- Political competition and a lack of crisis management mechanisms could make it very hard for China and Japan to resist escalatory pressures in the very plausible event of a minor armed clash in the East China Sea.
- Japan’s reluctance to use force may be less extensive than some assume and its connections to US strategy and C4SIR systems increase the prospect of early American participation.
- Command and control vulnerabilities could mean serious pre-emption pressures if Beijing thought a larger conflict was possible. American attacks on the PLA’s conventional war-fighting systems could create perverse incentives for China to use its nuclear weapons early while it was still confident in its physical ability to do so.
- Crisis management mechanisms including a secure political hot-line and military to military communication channels which are regularly tested. Military personnel should visit each other, observe exercises and attend training courses.
- The USA could ensure it has a Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance System (C4SIR) which can operate separately from that of Japan. Japan could harden its system.
- China could make clear it has a robust C4SIR. China's deployment of military forces world wide recently may be in part to send such a message to potential enemies. This could include conducting exercises which the media and other nations military leaders are invited to attend. China could improve its C4SIR using its considerable commercial ICT industry capability and workforce.
Australian planners should assume that China and Japan may not be able to continue avoiding minor hostilities over their conflicting East China Sea claims.
Australian planners should also assume that initial hostilities between Japan and China could easily escalate into a much more serious conflict, potentially involving the United States and possibly crossing the nuclear threshold.
Australian policymakers and decision-makers should encourage their Chinese and Japanese counterparts to treat the Sino-Japanese relationship as an adverse partnership involving common as well as competing interests.