China - Japan - USA - Growing Conflict - Dangerous Ground

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China - Japan - USA - Growing Conflict - Dangerous Ground

Unread post by Paul Kemp » Mon Dec 02, 2013 6:04 pm

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The China Japan Dispute Over Diaoyu Islands: Historical Analysis
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By Chandra Muzaffar
Global Research, September 27, 2012
Region: Asia
Theme: Culture, Society & History
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Tensions are rising in the dispute between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands —- 5 tiny islands and 3 rocks covering a mere 7 square kilometres in the East China Sea. It is unfortunate that this is happening especially when Chinese-Japanese economic ties have reached a new level since the end of last year with the two countries agreeing to use their respective currencies in their bilateral trade, instead of the US dollar.

To de-escalate tensions, Japan should make the first move. It was the Japanese government’s purchase of three of the islands from the Kurihara family on 11 September 2012 that ignited the present crisis. That decision should be rescinded immediately.


n fact, Japan has been upping the ante on Diaoyu — which Japan calls the Senkaku Islands — for some time now. It will be recalled that on 7 September 2010 when a Chinese fishing boat collided accidentally with a Japanese patrol vessel near Diaoyu, the captain and the crew of the Chinese boat were detained by the Japanese Coast Guard for a few days. Though they were all released in the end, the incident revealed a new toughness on the part of the Japanese. The Chinese have been reacting to this and other such incidents.

What explains this new toughness? Some analysts attribute it partly to the growth of the Political Right in Japanese politics. Japanese economic stagnation for more than two decades and China’s success in replacing Japan as the world’s second most important economy have increased the influence of conservative nationalist forces in the country who are now targeting China. Impending elections within the ruling Democratic Party and the forthcoming General Election have also widened the berth for conservative politics.

It is also not a coincidence that the Japanese Right has become more vocal— especially vis-a-vis China— at a time when the United States is seeking to re-assert its presence and its power in the Asia-Pacific region. In the last couple of years, US political and military officials have on a number of occasions underscored the significance of US-Japan security ties. Even on the Diaoyu dispute, the US government, while professing to remain neutral, has through the Pentagon made it clear that the Japan-US Security Treaty would come into force in the event of a military conflict between Japan and China.

This stance has to be viewed in the larger context of the US’s active military alignment with the Philippines in its recent clash with China over the HuangyanIsland in the South China Sea and its support for Vietnam in its longstanding tiff with China over parts of the Spratly Islands and the Paracels. For both Japan and the US there may also be other reasons why the Diaoyu Islands are important. In 1968-9, a United Nations agency, it is reported, had discovered potential oil and gas reserves near Diaoyu. The US military, it is not widely known, also uses one of the five islands — Kuba— as a practice range for aircraft bombing.

Whatever the reasons for holding on to Diaoyu, Japan’s claim to ownership is weak. There are books, reports and maps from the 15th century, during the period of the Ming Dynasty, that establish in no uncertain terms that Diaoyuis Chinese territory. The book Voyage with a Tail Wind and the Record of the Imperial Envoy’s Visit to Ryukyu bear testimony to this. Even writings by Japanese scholars in the late 19th century acknowledged this fact.

The challenge to Chinese ownership of Diaoyu came from Japanese annexation of the Islands in 1894-5 following the first Sino-Japanese War. China under the Ching Dynasty was too weak to fight back and regain lost territory. But annexation through military force does not confer legitimacy upon the act of conquest. This is why when Japan was defeated in the Second World War the victors who included China and the US recognised that Diaoyu was Chinese territory. Both the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Declaration acknowledged this though for administrative purposes Diaoyu was placed under US control as part of its governance over the Ryukyu Islands. The US was then the occupying power in Japan following the latter’s surrender.

However, when China was taken over by the Chinese Communist Party in 1949, the US changed its position and began to treat the Islands as part of Japan. The Chinese communist leadership protested vehemently. In 1971, the US Senate returned the Diaoyu Islands, together with Okinawa, to Japan under the Okinawa Reversion Treaty. Again, the Chinese government in Beijing objected, as did the Taiwan government which also regards the Islands as part of China. Since the normalisation of relations between China and Japan in 1972, both sides have agreed to allow their fisher folk to operate in the waters surrounding the Islands without resolving the issue of ownership. Of course, neither China nor Japan has relinquished even an iota of its claim in the last 40 years. Recent incidents have however forced this unresolved issue into the open.

Apart from taking the first step by abrogating its purchase of the Islands, as we have proposed, Japan should also come to terms with undeniable historical, legal and ethical facts. It must accept the irrefutable reality that the Diaoyu Islands belong to China. We realise that there are powerful vested interests that will not allow Japan to embrace this truth. Nonetheless, we should all try to persuade the Japanese government and the Japanese people that it would be in their best interest to do so. Governments in Asia should convey this message to Japanese elites through quiet diplomacy. Citizen groups throughout the continent should speak up in a firm and courteous manner. The media should play its role by laying out the arguments for an amicable resolution of the dispute which respects truth and justice.

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), Malaysia,
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US Flyover in China-Japan Island Row – Will the Real Provoca

Unread post by Paul Kemp » Mon Dec 02, 2013 7:40 pm

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US Flyover in China-Japan Island Row – Will the Real Provocateur Please Stand Up?
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By Nile Bowie
Global Research, November 29, 2013
RT Op-Edge 28 November 2013
Region: Asia
Theme: US NATO War Agenda
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Washington’s move to fly nuclear-capable bombers over China’s eastern air defense zone as a forceful endorsement of Japan’s claims over disputed islands is both needlessly confrontational and totally counterproductive.

The territorial dispute over an uninhabited chain of islands in the East China Sea – referred to as the Senkaku Islands by Japan and the Diaoyu Islands by China – has been a highly contentious issue in Sino-Japanese relations for decades, and the issue has resurfaced in recent times as both sides assert their sovereignty over the area.

Mass protests were seen in China targeting Japan’s embassy and Japanese products, shops and restaurants when Tokyo’s far-right former Governor Shintaro Ishihara called on Japan to use public money to buy the islands from private Japanese owners in 2012.

The issue stirs passions in Chinese society because Tokyo’s claims are seen as an extension of the brutal legacy of the Japanese occupation and a direct challenge to strong historical evidence that has legitimized Chinese sovereignty over the area since ancient times.

Moreover, the official stance of the government in Beijing is that Japan’s invalid claims over the islands were facilitated and legitimized by a backdoor-deal between Tokyo and Washington that directly challenges international law and post-World War II international treaties.

The right-wing government of Shinzo Abe in Japan has abandoned the passive approach to the issue taken by previous governments and has played on nationalist sentiments by asserting Tokyo’s firm position over the islands, which are internationally administered by Japan.

Chinese and Korean societies see Abe’s administration as whitewashing Japan’s history as a ruthless occupier and imperial power, and have lodged angry protests over his calls to revise Japan’s 1995 war apology and amend Article 9 of its pacifist constitution, which forbids Japan from having a standing army. China’s recent moves to introduce an air defense zone over the disputed islands have come as a response to months of aggressive Japanese military exercises in the area.

Beijing has denounced the presence of the Japanese navy in the region and Japan’s numerous threats to fire warning shots against Chinese planes that violate Japan’s air defense zone, which defiantly stretches only 130km from China’s mainland and includes the disputed islands. In addition to claims by Taiwan, both China and Japan have strengthened their rights over the islands due to significant oil and mineral resources that have yet to be exploited there.

Let history be the judge

Given legacies of both China and Japan as neighboring civilizations that morphed in modern nation-states, ancient history is sewn into conflicts like the Senkaku-Diaoyu dispute. The earliest historical records of the island being under China’s maritime jurisdiction date back to 1403 in texts prepared by imperial envoys of the Ming Dynasty; during the Qing Dynasty, the islands were placed under the jurisdiction of the local government of Taiwan province. Maps published throughout the 1800s in France, Britain, and the United States all recognize the Diaoyu Islands as a territory of China.

Japan eventually defeated the Qing Dynasty in the late 1800s during its expansionary campaigns in the region and strong-armed China into signing the humiliating Treaty of Shimonoseki that officially ceded Taiwan and surrounding islands, including the Diaoyu, which the Japanese renamed to ‘Senkaku Islands’in 1900. Following the defeat and surrender of Japan in World War II, international treaties such as the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation legally returned all territories stolen by Japan to pre-revolutionary China.

Beijing accuses US forces in post-war Japan of unilaterally and arbitrarily expanding its jurisdiction to include the Diaoyu Islands shortly after the Chinese revolution in the early 1950s, which were ‘returned’to Japan in the 1970s in the Okinawa Reversion Agreement, a move condemned by China and the US-allied Taiwan authorities.

Japan has argued since the 1970s that the Diaoyu was not part of the affiliated islands that were ceded to Japan by the Qing Dynasty (despite strong evidence to the contrary), and that the islands were placed under the administration of the United States following World War II and ‘returned’ to Japan. The view from Beijing, and especially from within the Xi Jinping administration, is that this case constitutes an illegal occupation of Chinese territory that seriously violates the obligations Japan should undertake according to international law.

Tokyo’s position on the issue really doesn’t hold water considering that 19th-century Japanese government documents available for viewing in Japan’s National Archives suggest that Japan clearly knew and recognized the Diaoyu Islands as Chinese territory.

Washington’s B-52 diplomacy

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Beijing’s announcement of an air defense zone over the Diaoyu Islands would naturally be seen as controversial due to the dispute with Japan, and because Washington implicitly backs Tokyo’s claims, the US administration has taken to framing the issue so as to portray China as the hostile actor and principal belligerent.

China has defended its air defense declaration as an extension of its entitlement to uphold its national sovereignty and territorial integrity; Beijing has also pointed out how the US and Japan have established their own zones decades ago, which extend to the frontline borders of other countries in some cases. Beijing’s air defense declaration essentially asserts the right to identify, monitor and possibly take military action against any aircraft that enters the area, and despite the US backing Japan’s right to uphold a similar zone, the White House declared China’s moves “unnecessarily inflammatory.”

Just days after the Chinese government issued its defense declaration, the US military deployed two unarmed (nuclear-capable) B-52 bombers from its airbase in Guam that embarked on a 1500-mile flight into the Chinese air defense umbrella before turning back. The symbolic but forceful display by Washington is essentially the equivalent of the Pentagon giving the middle finger to the Chinese government.

The maneuver was apparently part of a ‘long-planned’ exercise, but the timing and the message sent a clearly hostile and deeply arrogant message to Beijing. China claims that it monitored the US bombers in the zone and took no action, and as Beijing exercises restraint, Tokyo and Washington openly stoke tensions and practice hypocritical double standards.

The United States and Japan both operate vast unilateral air defense zones, and yet Washington has the cheek to childishly reject the legitimate defensive claims of others.

To quote Xinhua columnist Wu Liming’s characterization of US-Japan policy, “Their logic is simple: they can do it while China cannot, which could be described with a Chinese saying, ‘the magistrates are free to burn down houses while the common people are forbidden even to light lamps.’”

The message derived from Washington’s actions perfectly illustrates the nature of the so-called ‘Pivot to Asia’, that even though America’s political representatives cannot be relied on to fulfill their long-planned appointments to visit the region, the Pentagon can always be relied on to deliver reminders that the US seeks hegemony in Asia.

The truth is that China and Japan have too much to lose as the second- and third-largest economies in the world to allow this issue to slide into a military confrontation, and cooler heads will likely prevent the latter scenario.

Given the contention around this dispute and the destabilizing effects it could have on the global economy if the situation were to deteriorate into a military conflict, it would be fundamental for the US to instead remain neutral and promote a peaceful compromise and settlement to this issue.

Beijing and Tokyo should both take their claims to the UN to settle this issue indefinitely if a mutual compromise to jointly develop the disputed region cannot be agreed upon.

Nile Bowie is a political analyst and photographer currently residing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He can be reached on Twitter or at nilebowie@gmail.com

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US wades into China-Japan island dispute with missile defens

Unread post by Paul Kemp » Mon Dec 02, 2013 10:16 pm

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US wades into China-Japan island dispute with missile defense deal
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Giants in Dispute
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http://www.youtube.com/v/-JbQxQsxK-M?rel=0"
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A territorial dispute between China and Japan could spark a “violent conflict,” US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said. The US also inked a missile defense deal with Tokyo likely to anger Beijing, while mass anti-Japanese protests grip China.

"I am concerned that when these countries engage in provocations of one kind or another over these various islands, that it raises the possibility that a misjudgment on one side or the other could result in violence, and could result in conflict," Panetta said.

He also warned that Beijing and Tokyo should put an end to provocations or risk a “potentially expanding” conflict.

Following the diplomatic meeting with Panetta, Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said that Washington had agreed that the Senkaku islands, claimed by both Japan and China, are covered by a US-Japan security treaty.

In the 1960 treaty, the US committed to aid the Japanese in the event of an attack on the nation’s territory.

"I did not bring up the topic today, but it is mutually understood between Japan and the United States that [the islands] are covered by the treaty," Gemba said after the meeting on Monday. Washington previously claimed that the US would not take sides in the territorial dispute over the archipelago in the East China Sea.

The US also signed an agreement with Japan on Monday to build a second missile defense radar installation on Japanese territory, aimed at countering North Korea. China may view the move as a provocation.

The Senkaku islands – known as Diaoyu to the Chinese – are uninhabited, but are believed to contain rich mineral deposits and are located on important shipping lanes.

Violent protests rocked China after Japan announced last week that it had purchased three of the islands from a private owner. In the latest bout of demonstrations, anti-Japanese activists attacked Panasonic factories in the eastern city of Quingdao. Protesters burned Japanese flags and targeted Japanese-made cars.

In response to the wave of unrest, Panasonic temporarily ceased operations in China. In addition, Canon announced that it would suspend operations for employees’ safety. Toyota Motor Corp also said that it was affected by the anti-Japanese unrest, citing a suspected arson attack on one of its factories in the eastern Shandong province.

With tensions between Beijing and Tokyo on the rise, Steven Clemons, editor-at-large of The Atlantic, says the two nations are probing the other's weaknesses.

“It is really about China testing the United States and its alliance with Japan,” he told RT, adding that he expects the skirmishes to continue for a long time.

“What we are seeing today is a snapshot of what we are going to see for the next decade – or more.”

With both sides showing signs of strength, it may turn into an arms race, where each side tries to meet the military capabilities of the other, Clemons warns.

‘A decade of stagnation’

In a worrying escalation of the standoff around 1000 Chinese fishing boats are heading to waters near the disputed Senaku Islands, the state –run China National Radio reported, in what may be an additional counter measure over the Japanese nationalization of the isles.

The 1000 fishing boats may be joined by six Chinese surveillance ships, which have been stationed nearby since Friday.

On Monday, the Chinese government threatened that Japan could suffer from another “lost decade” if relations between the two countries deteriorate further.


"How could be it be that Japan wants another lost decade, and could even be prepared to go back by two decades," state newspaper the People's Daily said in a front-page article. China "has always been extremely cautious about playing the economic card," it said.

The paper claimed that China was prepared to “take up the battle,” should tensions persist.

James Corbett, an independent journalist based in Japan, said that the Japanese government’s move to sign a missile defense deal with the US will have “a very destabilizing effect on the region.”

“It’s destined to inflame tensions even further,” Corbett said. He dismissed US claims that the new missile defense radar is aimed at countering a North Korean threat as, “silly as saying that the missile defense shield going up in Europe is not aimed at Russia.”

Corbett described the “diplomatic scuffle” over the islands as relatively recent, stemming from the deposits of natural gas and oil believed to be near to the islands.

“For an awfully long time these islands were claimed by Japan and no one really cared about it in the region,” Corbett said.

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East China Sea Tensions Soar as China Scrambles Fighter Jets

Unread post by Paul Kemp » Mon Dec 02, 2013 10:43 pm

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East China Sea Tensions Soar as China Scrambles Fighter Jets Against US/Japan
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Published on Friday, November 29, 2013 by Common Dreams
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Dangerous escalation as China responds to provocations by Japan and US militaries
- Jon Queally, staff writer
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According to government officials in Beijing, the Chinese on Friday scarmbled fighter jets over the East China Sea in order to assess and monitor the presence of US and Japanese military aircraft flying inside airspace that both China and Japan now claim as their own.

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Tensions over what China has declared as an "air defense zone" have dramatically increased in the last several days with some worried that a stand-off that pits the rising power of the Chinese military against a Japanese-US alliance could escalate with unknown consequences.
"In almost all games of chicken, each side underestimates the other’s will to risk disaster rather than accept humiliation. This could end quite badly." –journalist, analyst Gwynne Dye
As the New York Times [url=hhttp://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/30/world/asia/c ... ne.html?hp]reports:[/url]
  • China scrambled jets on Friday and identified two American surveillance planes and 10 Japanese aircraft in its newly declared air defense zone, the Chinese state news media said. The scrambling of the jets to find foreign aircraft was the first move announced by China showing that it was enforcing the zone, which it established last weekend.

    Although there was no indication that China’s Air Force showed any hostile intent, the move ratcheted up tensions in a long-simmering dispute between Japan and China that could lead to a military miscalculation that some fear could spiral out of control. The United States, which is bound by treaty to defend Japan if it is attacked, directly entered the fray this week by sending unarmed B-52s into the contested airspace, defying Chinese demands that all aircraft notify the Chinese they were coming in advance or face military action.

    The dispute between China and Japan centers on uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. The new air defense zone includes airspace above the islands. Analysts believe that China’s intent in declaring control was not to force conflict, but to begin to show that it had as much claim to the islands as Japan, which has long administered them.
And the Guardian adds:
  • While such zones are common, China's is controversial because it includes the skies over islands known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, which are the subject of a long-running territorial dispute, and overlaps zones established by Japan and South Korea. There has also been concern over China's warning that it would take unspecified "emergency defensive measures" if aircraft did not comply.

    Taylor Fravel, an expert on regional security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said establishment of the zone increased the potential for an incident in the air that could spark a larger crisis. But he said tensions might ease if China continued to clarify the nature of the zone and how it intended to deal with unidentified aircraft, especially those flying through the zone but not heading toward China.

    "China has always chafed at Japan's adiz [air defence identification zone], which at some points is less than 150km from China … China probably wants to level the playing field with Japan and increase the pressure on Tokyo regarding the disputed islands," he said.

    Japan does not acknowledge that ownership of the islands is disputed. The US does not have a position on their sovereignty but recognises Japan's administrative control and has said they are covered by the joint security pact.

    Many analysts think China is laying down a long-term marker, but did not anticipate the forceful response it has received from the US as well as Japan.
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Providing further perspective on the situation, independent journalist and commentator Gwynne Dyer, writing at Common Dreams Thursday, described the tensions over the air defense zone as a game of chicken—a dangerous one:

The Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands are not worth a war, or even a single ship or aircraft. They are uninhabited, and their alleged connection with the seabed rights to a natural gas field around 300 km. (200 miles away) is extremely tenuous. This move is a deliberate escalation of an existing dispute, made with the intention of forcing the other side to back down and lose face.

It’s quite common in games of chicken to block off your own escape routes from the confrontation, in order to show that you are not bluffing. And in almost all games of chicken, each side underestimates the other’s will to risk disaster rather than accept humiliation. This could end quite badly.

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