With military analysts in Beijing criticising Japan’s placement of a US-made Patriot missile defence system at Miyako Island, which is close to Taiwan, the breach between archrivals China and Japan is certain to grow.
With military analysts in Beijing criticising Japan’s placement of the US-made Patriot PAC-3 missile defence system at Miyako Island, which is close to Taiwan, the breach between archrivals China and Japan is certain to grow.
At a news conference on May 8, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said that the Air Self-Defense Force has stationed Patriot PAC-3 ground-to-air guided missiles at its Miyako Island installation in Miyakojima, Okinawa Prefecture.
In the “first island chain” close to Taiwan, this is seen to be a key strategic node.
Matsuno also told the media that the PAC-3 missiles from Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force had been stationed at the Ishigaki and Yonaguni islands in addition to the Miyakojima deployment.
Matsuno explained that the Patriot missiles are intended to intercept any future launches of long-range ballistic missiles from North Korea.
Ballistic missiles that North Korea claimed to be artificial satellites were fired; the missiles twice passed close to these three islands, once in 2012 and again in 2016.
However, as reported by the state-owned Global Times, Chinese analysts have harshly criticised the deployment.
The analysts emphasised that Taiwanese media had noticed that the deployment locations are closer to Taiwan than North Korea, adding that this “is yet another Japanese attempt to interfere in the Taiwan question.”
Regular patrols and drills encircling the island of Taiwan as well as through the Miyako Strait into the West Pacific are conducted by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) between the island of Taiwan and Yonaguni Island.
The focus of China’s military exercises has also changed significantly, with the PLA soldiers emphasising the practise invasion of Taiwan by surrounding it and cutting it off from any “external interference.”
China launched extraordinary live-fire drills in reaction to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August of last year, firing numerous missiles towards the waters between northeastern and southwestern Taiwan.
Taiwan has had to strengthen its air defences in response to China’s escalating hostility and “grey zone tactics” against the island nation.
The Skybow III and Patriot missiles that were deployed to the northern half of the state in February of this year make up the majority of Taiwan’s air defence. Taiwanese media, however, saw Japan’s deployment of a PAC battery close to the island as a favourable move given China’s pattern of military escapades in the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan fears a growing threat from China and is hoping the Patriot PAC-3 missile defence system can deflect Chinese missiles headed its way.
The Taiwanese news organisation “Taiwan News” has reported that these southern Japanese islands are closer to Taiwan than North Korea. The possibility that the deployment could possibly be intended to intercept Chinese missiles is raised by this.
It highlighted that while Yilan County in northeast Taiwan is only 362 kilometers away from Miyako Island, Kaesong, the southernmost metropolis of North Korea, is 1,459 kilometers away. Although Japanese or Taiwanese officials have not supported such theories, Chinese analysts are brimming with suspicion.
According to Wei Dongxu, a military expert in Beijing, Japan’s placement of Patriot missiles on its southwest island chain has nothing to do with the nearby Korean Peninsula.
The analyst went on to say that the move is extremely aggressive towards China since its real objective is to arm the islands with anti-air and anti-ship missiles and prepare for a military intervention in the Taiwan dispute.
Wei counselled China to bolster its defences against any military incursion attempts from hostile outside forces. Just a few days prior, the PAC-3 Patriot missile defence system in Ukraine performed brilliantly by intercepting and downing a Russian hypersonic Kinzhal missile.
Modern military hardware that Kyiv is receiving from its partners in the West, mainly the United States, is now being tested in Ukraine. China, for its part, has been closely observing the combat effectiveness of Western military hardware against the powerful military force of Russia.
Ukrainian officials have been clamouring for the PAC-3 Patriot missile defence systems, which can take down the super-maneuverable ballistic missiles, ever since Russia launched a volley of ballistic and cruise missiles on Ukraine, causing devastation on the troubled nation last year.
Finally, these systems were shipped to Ukraine in April, and it is said that they were then installed in Kyiv, the country’s capital. The PAC-3 stunned the Russian and Ukrainian military earlier this month when it successfully shot down a Russian hypersonic missile. Due to their speed and erratic flight paths, hypersonic missiles are thought to be able to penetrate air defence systems.
Thus, China may feel even more uneasy if a PAC-3 Patriot missile defence system is deployed close to Taiwan. The American system has turned into a pain in the neck for its rivals, China and Russia.