Does China want to use Japanese aircraft as guinea pigs in Senkaku dispute?

 Hong Lei

Hong Lei

There was some ridiculous development in the dispute between China and Japan over Diaoyu Islands (called Senkaku Islands by Japan). It causes me to have the assumption that China wants to use Japanese aircraft as guinea pits.

The Japanese government purchased the islands under dispute, while China responded by routine patrol of the areas around the islands by its marine surveillance and fishery administration ships.

Both Japan and China must have been satisfied, as each has got something. Those who worry that a war may break out between the two countries have begun to rest at ease as a new balance has been struck, and the tension will not further intensify.

Ridiculously, however, recently China sent its warships to patrol the area, which might go beyond Japan’s limit of tolerance.

In fact, there is no need for China to send its warships. The patrol by its surveillance and fishery administration ships is quite enough for China to claim its sovereignty over the disputed waters.

What puzzled everyone was that China sent Marine Surveillance Aircraft No. B-3837 to patrol the disputed sea area. The aircraft even flew very low around the Diaoyu Islands. It was not necessary for China to challenge Japan in that way unless it wanted to fight a war with Japan.

The Chinese aircraft was a Y-12 transport of low speed and poor battle functions. However, Japan sent eight F-15 jets and one early warning aircraft to drive away the Y-12. In fact to deal with the Y-12, one F-15 is more than enough. However, the deployment of such a large fleet of aircraft was not something absurd. By that deployment, Japan sent China a message: Enough is enough.

The normal assumption is that neither China nor Japan wants to fight a war, but now Japan has given China the message that China has gone too far, and that if China continues to do so, Japan will fight.

It is also the normal assumption that under such circumstances, if China really does not want to fight, it should put some sort of restraint on itself, but it has not done so. On the contrary, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Friday that as the Diaoyu Islands belonged to China, it was entirely normal for Chinese aircraft to fly above the sea areas of those Islands.

Hong said the Chinese Foreign Ministry has urged the Japanese side to take China’s solemn position seriously and stop all acts that infringe upon or harms China’s territorial sovereignty (Xinhua report at

China’s official mouthpiece Global Times published a commentary yesterday urging China to speed up its actions to normalise China’s patrol of the territorial sky above the Diaoyu Islands. It says that if Japan persists in intercepting Chinese marine surveillance aircraft, China must send fighter aircraft to the islands.

We hope that was bluffing and both China and Japan will act with restraint.

However, I have some assumption under the absurd circumstances.

China has developed its J-15 fighters for only 18 months, but regards it as a mature product. I have seen the photos of seven J-15 fighters.

China conducted the first test flight of its J-20 stealth fighter in January 2011. Does China regard it as a mature product for mass production now after only 23 months?

According to Chinese media’s repeated reports and commentaries that praise the engineer in charge of the development of the J-15, who died on the job after the successful landing of the J-15 on China’s aircraft carrier, Chinese aircraft research workers have been working overtime for a long time in developing China’s aircrafts. It is quite possible that China believes that its J-20 is now ready for use.

China now needs to test the fighters to see whether it is as good as America’s top stealth fighter F-22. If it uses J-20 in an air battle against Japan, then Japan’s aircraft, that are less advanced than  the J-20, will be China’s guinea pigs in testing its J-20.

That may be absurd, but China keeps all its weapon development secret. How do we know its J-20 has not been ready for combat for a long time? Before the successful landing of J-15 on China’s carrier, quite a few foreign experts believed that it would take years for China to have its own carrier-based fighters.

I know China better but did not think China might be able to have five J-15 land on the carrier the same day so early. I predicted that it would take 6 months for the first successful landing.

On December 14, there was a commentary on entitled It Is an Inevitable Historical Development to Make J-20 a Carrier-based Aircraft.

According to the commentary, the J-15 is not heavy enough and can only be used as an attacking aircraft. To control the sky, China needs a heavier fighter able to deal with the F-22 of the United States. When 20 J-20s have controlled the sky to provide cover for attacking aircraft, China can send hundreds of attacking aircraft to attack the enemy.

If that is true, Japanese aircrafts will really become China’s guinea pigs.

Categories: Defence & Aerospace

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3 replies


  1. Chinese media speaks of all out war with Japan, attacking Japanese cities « China Daily Mail
  2. Chinese navy buildup no threat to US, but a possible threat to Japan « China Daily Mail
  3. Japan eyes air superiority over China in talks with western defence contractors | China Daily Mail

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