Beijing December 8, 2014 - Military aircraft of the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) scrambled on December 6 to confront five Chinese warplanes which were shuttling between the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean by flying over the sea area between the Main Island of Okinawa and the Miyako Island, according to the information released on Saturday by the Joint Staff Council of the Japan's Defense Ministry (same as the General Staff Headquarters).
Two days before this event, the Japanese Defense Ministry released a piece of news that five Chinese warships including destroyers passed through the Osumi Strait and entered the Pacific Ocean to conduct exercise on December 4, 2014.
Data published by the Japanese Defense Ministry show that the five Chinese military planes flying over the Miyako Strait on December 6 consisted of one Y-9 electronic reconnaissance plane, two Y-8 maritime early warning planes and two H-6G bombers.
Among the five Chinese military warplanes, the Y-9 electronic reconnaissance aircraft is worth special attention. The Y-9 carries four elongated antenna fairings to replace the large external antenna fairing usually seen on China-made electronic reconnaissance planes. It is speculated to be equipped with new-type airborne comprehensive signal reconnaissance system and able to monitor radar and communication signals.
A Chinese Y-9 electronic reconnaissance plane flew near the waters around the Diaoyu Islands on October 3 this year, and JASDF warplanes also scrambled to monitor the Chinese military aircraft and took photos of it for the first time.
Regarding the "formation" of the five Chinese military warplanes, military commentator Li Xiaojian held that if the data published by the Japan's Defense Ministry are true, it's highly possible that they are conducting sea-air coordinated drill with the Chinese fleet that were reported a few days ago to sail to the Western Pacific for high-sea training. This indicated that the Chinese Navy is capable of carrying out vessel-aircraft joint operations.
The Japanese military and media are obsessed with hyping up the news about the Chinese naval and air forces passing the Osumi and the Miyako Straits for normal exercises. In the viewpoint of Li Xiaojian, it reflects that the "China threat theory" is still at work in Japan.
Li Xiaojian also pointed out that another key reason for Japan's actions is that the rapid development of China’s sea and air strength has caused mental discomfort for Japan. According to Li, the frequent appearance of the Chinese naval ships in the relevant waters may help eliminate this kind of mental discomfort.
Although the Miyako Strait is Japan's exclusive economic zone and Japan has repeatedly hyped up Chinese surface vessels and military warplanes crossing it, both the Miyako Strait and the Osumi Strait are international waterways, where vessels and aircraft can pass freely without prior application or approval of Japan.