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October 1, 2012 | by  | in News |
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Oriental Diplomacy


Discontent is brewing in the East China Sea, as China and Japan dispute the ownership of a group of uninhabited islands and their surrounding waters.

Why care about uninhabited rocks? Primarily, because they’re located near rich fishing grounds and a potentially huge oil reserve.

Last week, Japan announced it had nationalised the Senkaku Islands, known as the Diaoyu Islands in China. The announcement sparked large protests in Beijing where more than 1000 protesters marched outside the Japanese embassy, hurling eggs and bottles. Some shouted, “Return our Islands! Japanese devils get out!” While others held signs that read “For the respect of the motherland, we must go to war with Japan.”

Some have equated the situation as similar to the tension between Germany and the British-French Entente prior to WWI, but most experts agree that war is highly unlikely (although they said the same thing in 1914).

Both Asian superpowers have been throwing their toys out of the cot. Two Japanese nationals briefly landed on the biggest Island, Uotsuri. Chinese officials condemned the act as “provocation” and responded by sending three patrol ships to the island. Japanese ships retaliated by turning giant hoses against the

Chinese, in what must’ve been the world’s most grown-up waterfight.

Because both China and Japan are soon to face domestic political changes, neither side wants to back down.

The Japanese government signed a deal to purchase the Islands from Japanese businessman Kunioki Kurihara, in response to an even more provocative plan by right- wing Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara to buy and develop the Islands using public donations.

Yet China claims it discovered the Islands in the 14th century. But since WWII, the Islands have been passed between the US and Japan like a hot potato.

The US is trying to stay impartial, but should anything happen it will have to take the side of Japan, with whom it holds a security alliance.

However, international observers are hopeful that diplomatic talks between the countries will result in a “sharing is caring” approach to the Island’s resources, while some hope the US will use the situation as an opportunity to draw China peacefully into a system of world governance.

But putting China, Japan, and the U.S in a room to talk it all out? Easier said than done.

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