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New paramilitary recruits take part in their first shooting practice with real ammo at a base in Nanjing, Jiangsu.
BEIJING: China yesterday vowed a “steadfast” military defence of its territorial integrity, after a report said Japan and the US will draft a plan to counter any Chinese invasion of disputed islands.
Japan’s Nikkei newspaper, citing a US Pentagon source, said Japanese and US officials will come up with the joint military plan on retaking the outcrops in the East China Sea if China seizes them.
The joint preparations, to be finished by the summer, will be the first by the allies to address the threat of attack on a specific area held by Japan, the respected business daily said.
The report added that it was intended as a deterrent against Beijing over its claims to the Japanese-controlled islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
Tensions over the dispute have mounted in recent months, with Beijing repeatedly sending ships to waters around the islands to intensify its claims. Tokyo has alleged that a Chinese frigate locked its radar on a Japanese destroyer in January.
China’s defence ministry said it had seen the report and reiterated Beijing’s stance that the islands belong to China.
Washington has repeatedly said the Japan-US defence alliance applies to the islands, meaning US troops would act with their Japanese counterparts if China physically takes them over.
General Shigeru Iwasaki, chief of staff of the Japanese Self Defence Forces Joint Staff, will meet with Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of the US Pacific Command, in Hawaii this week to discuss the plan, the Nikkei said.
Japan and the United States already have such joint action plans to deal with possible crises in the Korean peninsula or in the Taiwan Strait, the newspaper noted.
Last Sunday, China’s newly installed President Xi Jinping said he would fight for a “great renaissance of the Chinese nation”, in comments seen as promoting patriotism under the one-party rule of his communist regime.
Japan too has expressed a new strain of nationalistic rhetoric under its hawkish prime minister, Shinzo Abe, who last Sunday called on new graduates of the National Defence Academy to guard the country against “provocations”.
Xi’s appointment of two top diplomats last week displays a desire to repair relations Japan after months of disruption, while keeping the US and its strategic pivot to Asia at bay.
Yang Jiechi, a former ambassador to Washington, has been named the state councillor in charge of the foreign ministry, its top post.
He believes the US should stay out of regional Asian affairs such as the South China Sea dispute.
New Foreign Minister Wang Yi is in charge of repairing ties with Tokyo.
This week, Xi heads to Russia for his first diplomatic foray as president, reinforcing a relationship with Cold War roots which is finding shared strategic and business interests.
Xi will visit Moscow from tomorrow for talks with President Vladimir Putin.
The two countries enjoy expanding commercial relations — China is the world’s biggest energy consumer and the largest trade partner of Russia, one of the biggest oil producers.
They co-operate on several issues at the UN and in advance of his trip, Xi called Russia “our friendly neighbour”, adding his visit underscored the “great importance” China placed on relations. Putin and Xi will also oversee the signing of many agreements. Agencies