Chinese military admits radar lock on Japanese destroyer

For the first time, Chinese military officials are agreeing with the Japan Coast Guard, but only by admitting one of its frigates locked radar on a Japanese destroyer in the disputed Senkaku Islands.

The Chinese admission is being reported by Kyodo News Agency.  It was one of the most serious incidents to date as tensions continue to escalate over ownership of the southwestern Okinawa Prefecture islands.  Until now, Beijing had denied Tokyo’s allegations, accusing Japan of hyping “the China threat” in order to garner world public opinion against China.

Kyodo News is citing unnamed “senior Chinese military officials” saying the weapons targeting had taken place. The officials, including “flag officers”—those at the rank of admiral—told Kyodo it was an “emergency decision”, not a planned action, and was taken by the commander of the frigate.

The radar incident marked the first time the two nations’ navies have locked horns in the increasingly bitter spat over the Tokyo-controlled Senkakus, which China claims as the Diaoyus. The report quotes Chinese officials said that on January 30th  the frigate and the Japanese destroyer were three kilometers apart in international waters some 110 to 130 kilometers north of the outcrops. The commander of the frigate directed his vessel’s weapons-targeting radar, based on the Chinese military’s rules of engagement, without seeking instructions from the fleet command or navy headquarters, Kyodo cited the Chinese officers as saying. It was not known if the commander had been reprimanded.

Japan is also accusing China of a Chinese frigate locked its radar on a Japanese helicopter in the middle of January. China has denied the accusations, and Beijing’s defense ministry said this week that the truth was “very clear”.  It told the news media outlet AFP “The Japanese allegation of Chinese navy vessels targeting warships and airplanes of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces with fire-control radar does not fit the facts.”   It also accused Tokyo “The Japanese side speculates from time to time on this issue, discredits the Chinese military and misleads the international community with ulterior motives.”