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[All Politics is Global] Chinese Media Hogwash on Japan Finds No Takers in Asia

Chinese media criticism of Japan's defense budget is sadly ironic. It's the CCP's military expansion and unilateralism that pose the greatest challenge to Asia.



A Chinese warship fires toward the shore during a military exercise near Fuzhou, China's Fujian Province, near Taiwan's Matsu Islands, April 8, 2023. (Adapted from ©Reuters)

In recent decades, China's strategic geopolitical stance and aggressive military stealth have engulfed global concerns. Indeed, they present the greatest strategic and military challenge of the 21st century. The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has been preparing itself for conflict situations around its claimed land and maritime borders. It seems to have been working towards retaining the edge from a strategic and geographic vantage point.

Unilateralism is being redefined by Beijing across Asia in an unprecedented fashion. Xi Jinping's China is taking unilateral actions that are problematic and chaos-inducing. Far worse, they threaten to push persistent rivalries beyond dangerous thresholds. They are thereby undermining regional peace and security and disturbing the balance of power.

Throughout, China's state-run and controlled media continues to run a periodic narrative against Japan. It uses various channels, aiming to take attention away from its revisionist and brute military actions in various subregions of Asia. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping (©Xinhua via Kyodo)

Fictionalizing Japan as an Enemy

In one example, the Global Times published an article titled "Asia, world should remain vigilant on the remilitarization of Japan" on January 4, 2024. It imprudently questions Japan's approved ¥7.9 trillion JPY (about $56 billion USD) defense budget for 2024. Global Times, of course, is the mouthpiece of the CCP's flagship newspaper, People's Daily

Ironically, ignoring China's own military investments, the article criticizes Japan for investing in "longer-range strike capabilities under a five-year plan to fundamentally revamp its defense posture." It also claims that "this is not constructive for Japan" and that it "will increase tensions in East Asia."

The Global Times piece is far removed from reality. However, the rest of Asia knows the truth about where Japan stands today. Moreover, Asia also knows that it is China that has been intensifying aggressive activities across East Asia. Today's China is backed by tremendous military capabilities acquired through a 45-year-long military modernization program. Its targets include the East China Sea, the Senkaku Islands, the Sea of Japan, and the western Pacific Ocean.

Verified Instances of Unilateral Military Action

Placed below are verified statistics of China's unilateral military actions and activities of the past decade in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the western Pacific. The collated analyses of these actions expose Chinese propaganda in its entirety.

Since 2016, China has been flying military aircraft over the Sea of Japan and intensifying the scope of its activities.


Here are some of the first confirmed instances of China flying military aircraft over the Sea of Japan since 2016:

  • Chinese military aircraft (Y-8 early warning aircraft and Y-9 intelligence gathering aircraft) (January 2016)
  • Bombers (H-6) (August 2016)
  • A formation including fighters (December 2017)

The first intrusion into Japan's territorial waters by China Coast Guard vessels and maritime militia equipped with armaments was in 2015. In recent years, there have also been continuous activities of Chinese warships and related vessels around the Senkaku Islands. These include:

  • Entry into Japan's contiguous zone by Chinese navy surface ships (June 2016, January and June 2018, July 2022)
  • Frequent cases of China Coast Guard vessels attempting to approach Japanese fishing vessels in Japan's territorial waters (8 cases in 2020, 18 cases in 2018, and 11 cases in 2022)
China Coast Guard vessel that tracked Japanese fishing boats in the territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands on April 10, 2022. (Provided by Kazushi Kinjo.)

China first carried out confirmed flights of its military aircraft over the Pacific in 2013. Examples of confirmed Chinese military flights over the Pacific Ocean include:

  • Chinese military aircraft (Y-8 early warning aircraft) between the main island of Okinawa and Miyakojima island (July 2013)
  • Bombers (H-6) (September 2013)
  • Passage of a formation including fighters between the main island of Okinawa and Miyakojima island (September 2016)
  • Passage of unmanned aerial vehicles between the main island of Okinawa and Miyakojima island (August 2021)

More Aggressive Unilateralism

Chinese activities in the South China Sea have also promoted unilateral changes to the status quo by force. Beijing established de facto control over the Scarborough Shoal in 2012. Since 2014, it has engaged in large-scale and rapid land reclamation and infrastructure development on seven features of the Spratly Islands. 

Chinese aircraft carriers have also been active in the Pacific Ocean:

  • First confirmation of entry into the Pacific Ocean by Liaoning (first aircraft carrier) (2016)
  • Flights by carrier-based fighters (including presumed ones) carried by Liaoning over the Pacific Ocean (April 2018, April 2020, April and December 2021, May and December 2022)
  • Liaoning had the highest number of shipboard takeoffs and landings (more than 300) during its operational period (2022)
  • First confirmation of entry into the Pacific by Shandong (second aircraft carrier). More than 600 shipboard takeoffs and landings were confirmed (2023)
The Chinese Navy Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier "Liaoning" was sighted in the Pacific Ocean east of Okinawa on December 21-22, 2022. The carrier repeatedly landed and departed fighter jets and helicopters a total of about 180 times. (©The Ministry of Defense Joint Staff Office)

China's military activities have also intensified around Taiwan. Aside from regular shows of force in the Taiwan Strait,

  • Beijing has not ruled out the possibility of the use of force against Taiwan to achieve "reunification" with the People's Republic of China.
  • Five Chinese ballistic missiles landed in Japan's EEZ (August 2022)
  • Significant increase in the number of Chinese aircraft entering Taiwan's airspace (2022)
In the waters around Taiwan, a Taiwanese military vessel monitors the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong. (©Ministry of National Defense, ROC via Kyodo)

Right to Self-Defense

A nation's military strategy is fundamental in defining its operational doctrine. The enhancement in China's military capabilities backed by decades of hefty defense budgets poses the greatest challenge to the entire Asia. Countries at prime risk have been left with no other option but to prepare to defend themselves. This is only a natural and proportional consequence of China's aggressive, revisionist unilateralism.

After all, nations have the right, and to an extent, an obligation, to use force to defend themselves against an attack or imminent attack. This "unit self-defense" is recognized by militaries around the world and serves as a key element of the militaries' rules of engagement.

Communist China seeks to rewrite history, rewrite rules, and rewrite laws as the new-age Asian hegemon. However, what it shall never be able to rewrite is another nation's spirit and right to exist, prosper, and fight back.


Author: Dr Monika Chansoria

Dr Monika Chansoria is a Senior Fellow at The Japan Institute of International Affairs in Tokyo and the author of five books on Asian security. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the views of any organization with which the author is affiliated. Follow her column, "All Politics is Global" on JAPAN Forward, and on X (formerly Twitter).

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