Former Chinese Commander Warns of War If Japan Shoots Down Drone

A retired Chinese military commander warned Japan that attacking China’s drones would represent the “first shot” of a war, adding to tensions over islands claimed by both sides in the East China Sea.

China should attack Japanese planes over the islands as a “minimum response,” Wang Hongguang, former deputy commander of the Nanjing military region, wrote in the Global Times today.

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should be “mentally prepared,” Wang wrote. “China has many kinds of countermeasures from low intensity to high intensity.” The Global Times said in July that Wang had retired recently.

Wang’s commentary echoes warnings by China’s Defense Ministry after Japan’s Sankei newspaper said the country may consider new rules allowing it to shoot down unmanned aircraft that enter its airspace. The islands, known as Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese, are at the center of a diplomatic quarrel between Asia’s two biggest economies.

Japan deployed fighter jets in September when an unidentified aerial drone was spotted near the islands, that country’s Defense Ministry said.

“China’s weight is too big, and its economic strength has surpassed Japan and the gap continues to widen,” Wang wrote. “China’s military power has advanced by huge strides, each navy may have its strong points and China’s overall military strength is far higher than Japan’s.”

Shooting down drones would provoke a decisive response from China, Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said in comments posted to the ministry’s website Oct. 26.

In a sign of continued tension, a Chinese research vessel entered Japan’s exclusive economic zone near the disputed islands for a second day, Kyodo News reported on Nov. 2, citing Japan’s coast guard.

— With assistance by Henry Sanderson

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