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The Chinese navy's Open Sea exercise is reasonable

Editor: Zhang Dan 丨CCTV.com

12-11-2014 17:29 BJT

By Zhao Jun, Researcher for the Naval Equipment Research Institute
The Chinese navy conducted this year's final open sea exercise in the West Pacific Ocean last week. Although some countries reacted with apprehension, the exercise was in accordance with the annual training plan of China’s navy, and was legal, reasonable and appropriate.

The Chinese navy

The Chinese navy's Open Sea exercise is reasonable

It is common practice for military powers to organize open sea exercises, which can undoubtedly help to improve fighting strength. All major powers emphasis the importance of military training, especially military exercise. Russia, for example, conducted over 3,000 military exercises in 2013 and more than 3,500 in 2014 in order to maintain fighting strength and war readiness. The US organized more than 130 large-scale, prolonged joint exercises in the Asia Pacific region alone in 2014, with names including "Key Resolve", "Vulture", "Max Thunder", "RIMPAC", "Golden Cobra", "Balikatan", "Keen Edge" and "Keen Sword". After one year of training on technical foundation and basic tactics and formation, the Chinese navy needs to partake in complicated maritime training both offshore and out in the open sea to improve its fighting strength.

It is also a basic right granted by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that the Chinese fleet may cross the Ryukyu Strait. Japan generally claims 12nm-wide of territorial sea but only 3nm in the La Perouse Strait, the Tsugaru Strait, the east and west canals of the Tsushima Strait, and the Osumi Strait. In other words, the Miyako Strait, about 145nm wide, and the Osumi Strait, about 15nm wide, are not the territorial sea, but rather an important international maritime passage. According to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, all ships and airplanes may freely cross the straits mentioned above. So, it is the basic right for Chinese navy to cross the Osumi Strait and the Miyako Strait while conducting training in the West Pacific Ocean.

China’s use of the international public sphere to organize the naval exercise between the first and the second island chains is indeed reasonable. The maritime area between the first and the second island chains is located in the West Pacific Ocean, which is a part of the international public sphere shared by all countries in the world. It is appropriate for China, a member of the international community, to organize a military exercise in this area so long as the exercise does not interfere with the normal maritime activity of other countries.

The naval exercise is in line with the basic principles of the UN Charter. According to the charter, the Chinese navy is allowed to organize a military exercise in the West Pacific Ocean to meet China's strategic requirement of "offshore protection". Early during the parade ceremony of the 60th Anniversary of the People's Republic of China in 2009, China announced the strategic requirement of "open sea protection" and "offshore defense" to stress that the Chinese navy should protect itself from external threats and implement defensive strategic activities.

The UN Charter grants member countries in Article 51 of Chapter 7 the right of independent and collective self-protection against invasion. The China's recent open sea naval exercise constitutes a protective measure and it meets the basic principles of the UN Charter. Furthermore, the exercise demonstrates that China, as one of the permanent members of UN Security Council, can shoulder the responsibility of helping contribute to global security.

The military exercise in the West Pacific Ocean is designed to help maintain the security of the sea lane of the Pacific Ocean, which meets the common interests of the Asia Pacific area as a whole. Economic globalization and international trade are developing fast and the sea lane plays an increasingly important role in this process.

China has become the second largest economy in the world and the largest trading nation, with more than 90% of overseas trade completed via marine transportation. Through the sea lanes from the Far East to North America; the Far East to the Caribbean and east coast of North America; from the Far East to the west coast of South America; and from Far East to Australia and New Zealand, China has established economic trade blocs with North America, Central America, South America and Oceania, and the sea lane has become the link through which to facilitate common development and prosperity. China's naval exercise in the West Pacific Ocean is meant to protect the security of marine transportation in the Pacific and to work toward the common interest of the countries occupying the Asia Pacific region.

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