No War Drums Yet in the Pacific
Haven't seen much about this here in the "Burg, so thought I would toss it in. Good background and what is going on
Despite the unceasing calls for my sage advice regarding the drumbeats of war between China and Japan over the Senkaku (Diaoyutai) Islands, I have refrained from weighing in. This undoubtedly regrettable vacuum has been filled, however, by dozens of Asia-watchers, running the gamut from those calling for sterner measures, to those dismissing it all (in the infamous words of General Taylor in Good Morning, Vietnam) as "a tempest in a teacup, much ado about nothing; for crying out loud, man, this isn't brain surgery."
Indeed, the Senkakus tiff isn't brain surgery, but neither is it Sunday tea with Auntie. It's old fashioned elbow-throwing on the basketball court. It's a bit of pushing and shoving to see if your man gives some room, or backs down. The islands, located just off the northeastern tip of Taiwan, are claimed by Tokyo, Peking, and Taipei. They have been administered, however, by Japan since 1972, as part of the reversion of Okinawa to Japanese control by the U.S. They are strategically significant as part of a chain of control for sealing off the East China Sea from the western Pacific Ocean, which Peking fears would keep it blocked from the global commons; they also sit on top of enormous undersea oil and gas deposits, which both Japan and China are actively trying to explore and develop.
The latest contretemps has followed older scripts: A group of Hong Kong, Chinese, and Macau activists sailed to the islands to mark the Japanese surrender in World War II, and were arrested by the Japanese Coast Guard (a fine force, by the way) on August 15. Peking demanded their release, and after a few days, Tokyo expelled them all. This was then followed by a group of Japanese activists who briefly landed there before themselves being kicked off by Japanese authorities. Protests broke out in both countries, demanding that their respective governments assert control over the tiny territory.
Posted by: Sherry