During the Cold War, the United States sought to contain China by forming a “first island chain” from Japan reaching all the way down to the Philippines. (Refer to the map on the left.) Circled are various straits China has successfully navigated through to date. After reading this China Daily report, I was curious where those mentioned straits are located. With Russia, China probably feels more emboldened to crossed those parts of the chain.
We are accustomed to hearing joint navy exercises between the U.S. and Japan in the region on a regular basis. However, in recent years, China and Russia are conducting exercises of their own. Given Obama’s Asia Pivot, where the U.S. officially divert more naval power to the region, China sees urgency in beefing up her presence too.
Whether we like the situation or not, an arms race in Asia is under way.
Some might wonder how China and Russia are able to navigate through the Tsugaru Strait without infringing on Japan’s territorial integrity. According to Wikipedia:
Japan’s territorial waters extend to three nautical miles (5.6 km) into the strait instead of the usual twelve, reportedly to allow nuclear-armed United States Navy warships and submarines to transit the strait without violating Japan’s prohibition against nuclear weapons in its territory.