Tokyo: Ahead of the G7 Summit in Japan, Chinese warships sailed around Japan in a display of military power, reported CNN.
Chinese naval flotilla led by a powerful destroyer has been on a 12-day circumnavigation of Japan’s main islands and it comes as leaders of the Group of Seven prepare to meet in Japan beginning May 19.
Japan’s Defence Ministry on Thursday released a map showing the Type-055 guided missile destroyer Lhasa, one of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s most powerful warships, leading a four-ship flotilla that also included a smaller destroyer, a frigate and a supply ship on the clockwise circumnavigation.
The Japanese map shows the voyage began on April 30 in the Tsushima Strait between South Korea and Japan, progressed through the Tsugaru Strait at the northern tip of Hokkaido on May 5 and 6 and then was in the Izu island chain south of Tokyo on Thursday, reported CNN.
China’s state-run Global Times linked the flotilla’s journey to “Japan’s recent provocative remarks” about Taiwan, the democratically ruled island over which the Chinese Communist Party claims sovereignty despite never having ruled it.
“While the voyage is likely a routine PLA Navy far sea exercise that does not violate any international law or target any third party, it could be seen as a strong message to Japan,” the Global Times report said, citing Chinese experts.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in an interview with Nikkei Asia on Wednesday that “the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait is critical not just for our country, but for the whole international community.”
Chinese naval flotillas have performed circumnavigations of Japan in the past – most notably when a Chinese-Russian flotilla of 10 ships did so in October 2021 – and analysts say more can be expected as the PLA Navy more frequently flexes its muscles outside China’s nearby waters, reported CNN.