In a display of military strength, Chinese warships have been observed encircling Japan for several days, possibly in response to Japan’s deployment of a missile system on an island near Taiwan.
According to Japan’s defense ministry, a Chinese naval flotilla led by the guided missile destroyer Lhasa has been sailing around Japan since April 30. The flotilla initially passed through Japan’s Tsushima Strait and later moved through the Tsugaru Strait. On May 11, the Chinese warships were spotted in the Izu island chain.
Japan’s deployment of the PAC-3 surface-to-air missile defense system on Miyako Island, which is in close proximity to Taiwan, seems to have triggered this response. China claims Taiwan as its territory and has expressed its determination to exercise sovereignty over it. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno confirmed this deployment and emphasized that it was intended to deter the missile threat posed by North Korea.
China’s state news outlet Global Times has criticized Japan’s actions as “provocative.” The publication argues that the move is not aimed at countering threats from the Korean Peninsula but rather as preparation for potential military intervention if China should invade Taiwan.
In addition to Miyako Island, Japan has also stationed PAC-3 missiles on the Ishigaki and Yonaguni islands.