The Chosun Ilbo, quoting Japan’s Fuji TV, is reporting that that two Chinese frigates have been spotted 80km northwest of the Senkaku Islands.
If true, this is the first time Chinese warships have entered the waters near the islands. Neither the Chinese government nor media is mentioning anything about warships in the area.
The reported Chinese move is believed to be in response to Japan’s deployment of an additional Aso-class coast guard patrol boat and the JMSDF to the waters near the islands.
The warships are reportedly watching each other using long-range radar and satellite photos, but both sides are armed with guided munitions and could strike one another at any time.
Things are getting complicated around the islands, with Chinese surveillance and fishing patrol vessels and Japanese coast guard patrol vessels confronting one another up close and more powerful warships watching one another over longer distances.
And in more good news, five of China’s military districts have reportedly gone to Defcon 3. China apparently has four defcon levels—three means leave and passes are cancelled for combat personnel and equipment gets inspected and replenished.
The PLA went to Defcon 3 when tensions rose in the South China Sea, too.
And if things weren’t rosy enough, Chinese generals appear to be taking a hard line. Quoting a pro-Chinese paper in Hong Kong, the Chosun reports that during a recent round table talk in Beijing, one of the five generals in attendance called for bold military action if Japan’s MSDF enters 12 nautical miles of the Senkaku Islands or if Chinese civilian ships are attacked. The other four were apparently pro-war, too.
China’s next leader, Xi Jinping, reportedly warned US SecDef Leon Panetta not to get involved, too.
This all said, the Chosun Ilbo says the dominant opinion is still that an armed clash is unlikely as both sides look for ways to talk their way out of this.
China has apparently put the kibosh on the anti-Japanese protests and told Japan it would hold memorial events marking 40 years of Sino-Japanese relations. The Japanese Prime Minister, too, appeared on TV to say he would consider sending a special envoy to China.
UPDATE: Korea Times, quoting Chinese papers, reports that Chinese nuke subs might be in the area, too. And some of the rhetoric employed by Chinese demonstrators has been quite colorful.