Are Japan and China Headed For War?
China-Japan Tensions Rise As Trawler Crew Released, Captain Held
Tensions racheted up between China and Japan over a fishing trawler captured near some rocks after it collided with Japanese patrol boats. Yes, it sounds trivial, but these are not just any rocks. These are rocks claimed by China, Japan and Taiwan – some rocks.
Today, the Japanese released the ship’s crew but are holding on to the captain and may try him. The Chinese are, to put it officially, pissed.
All of this comes in context of Japanese elections, Chinese naval encroachment and increasing interdependence between two historial enemies.
Whoo. As I said, some rocks.
From Nicholas Kristof in his New York Times blog:
This is a boundary dispute that could get ugly and some day have far-reaching consequences for China, Japan, Taiwan and the United States …
The reason to worry is that nationalists in both China and Taiwan see the islands as unquestionably theirs and think that their government has been weak in asserting this authority. So far, wiser heads have generally prevailed on each side, but at some point a weakened Chinese leader might try to gain legitimacy with the public by pushing the issue and recovering the islands. It would be a dangerous game and would have a disastrous impact on China-Japan relations, but if successful it would raise the popularity of the Chinese government and would also be a way of putting pressure on Taiwan.
Meanwhile, three Taiwanese activists are setting sail to the rocks, while the Chinese government is doing everything it can to stop local activists from doing the same.
The name of the rocks? Best to be avoided, as they have three names and to pick one is politically charged – they are called the Senkaku chain by Japan, the Diaoyu islands by China, and the Diaoyutai by Taiwan.
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