A senior U.S. military officer has accused China’s People Liberation Army of training for a “short sharp war” against Japan in the East China Sea aimed at seizing the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.
According to the U.S. Naval Institute, Captain James Fanell, Director, Intelligence and Information Operations for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said that the massive Mission Action 2013 exercise between all three branches of the PLA last year was aimed at preparing for a war to defeat Japan’s Self Defense Forces in a conflict in the East China Sea.
“We witnessed the massive amphibious and cross military region enterprise — Mission Action 2013,” USNI News quoted Capt. Fanell as saying. “[We] concluded that the PLA has been given the new task to be able to conduct a short sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea following with what can only be expected a seizure of the Senkakus or even a southern Ryukyu [islands] — as some of their academics say.”
During the speech delivered at the USNI-sponsored WEST 2014 conference, Capt. Fanell also took aim at some of China’s broader maritime activities in the East and South China Seas.
“Tensions in the South and East China Seas have deteriorated with the Chinese Coast Guard playing the role of antagonist, harassing China’s neighbors while PLA Navy ships, their protectors, (make) port calls throughout the region promising friendship and cooperation,” Fanell said, according to USNI News.
He went on to add: “By the way, protection of maritime rights is a Chinese euphemism for coerce[d] seizure of coastal rights of China’s neighbors.”
Fanell has wide experience serving in the Pacific, giving him unique insight into how the region’s navies operate and how this is changing over time. He also has broad expertise on China itself. According to his official biography, in 1991 Joint Intelligence Center, Pacific (JICPAC) named him as one of the first China maritime watch officers. Between 2005 and 2006 he studied China’s naval operations at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and from 2006 through 2008 he was the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)’s senior intelligence officer on China. He currently serves as the moderator of Red Star Rising, an information service that monitors the rise of China.
Although Fanell’s remarks were far blunter than is typical of senior U.S. military leaders, they were not uncharacteristic for him. Fanell has often offered more withering criticism of China’s military than many of his counterparts in the U.S. armed services. At the same USNI conference last year, for example, Capt. Fanell stated:
“In my opinion, China is knowingly, operationally and incrementally seizing maritime rights of its neighbors under the rubric of a maritime history that is not only contested in the international community, but has largely been fabricated by Chinese government propaganda bureaus in order to quote-unquote ‘educate’ the populace about China’s ‘rich maritime history’ clearly as a tool to help sustain the Party’s control.”