Are China and Japan Inching Closer to War Over a Few Disputed Islets?

Tensions heightened after Beijing announces rules for “East China Sea air-defense identification zone” that includes territory claimed by both nations

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Kyodo / Reuters

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's surveillance plane flies around the disputed islands in the East China Sea, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China, on Oct. 13, 2011

The announcement came on a weekend, just as the world’s attention was diverted by tense negotiations toward an Iranian nuclear deal. On Saturday, Nov. 23, Beijing announced “aircraft-identification rules” for an “East China Sea air-defense identification zone” that includes the skies over a scattering of rocks that China calls the Diaoyu.

Japan, which currently administers the outcroppings and uses the name Senkaku to refer to the contested territory, has cried foul. On Sunday, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said that Tokyo refused to recognize Beijing’s division of the heavens. “It was a one-sided action and cannot be allowed,” Kishida said, warning that Beijing’s move was “expected to trigger unpredictable events.”

The rules mean that Beijing now requires aircraft flying through this patch of sky to report their flight plans to Chinese authorities, remain in radio contact with them and make their nationalities and logos clear. “China’s armed forces will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions,” reported Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency.

(MORE: China’s Restriction on Airspace Over Disputed Islets Could Lead to War)

Wars have been triggered by far less than the uncertain custody of a few remote specks of land. For more than a year now, tensions have simmered over the contested five islets, with patriotic rhetoric emanating from both sides after Japan nationalized three of the outcroppings in September 2012. The Japanese government says it bought the tiny territories from their private owners for fear they would be purchased by Tokyo’s jingoistic then governor.

Military posturing has surged too. This year, Japan unveiled its largest warship since World War II, while China’s military budgeting continues to escalate. Japan has repeatedly scrambled its jets to counter what it considers potential Chinese threats, including the first reported unmanned Chinese drone to fly near the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands. (The drone did not violate what Japan considers its airspace.) China has also increased the number of its vessels sailing the resource-rich waters surrounding the disputed islands.

To complicate matters, Taiwan, which calls itself the Republic of China (ROC), claims ownership over the bits of East China Sea rock as well. Its government said on Sunday that the disputed islets “are an integral part of ROC territory, a fact which is unaffected by mainland China’s declaration.” China’s newly announced air-defense identification zone (ADIZ) also overlaps with one that had been previously set out by South Korea, leading Seoul to describe the Chinese parameters as “regretful.” (Each nation is free to carve out its own ADIZ, which can extend beyond a country’s own airspace, setting up the potential for competing zones.)

Still, most concerning is the geopolitical discord between the world’s second largest and third largest economies. The current enmity comes as China, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, has been more actively pursuing territorial interests in another waterway, the South China Sea, straining Beijing’s relations with Vietnam and the Philippines, among other Southeast Asian nations. China has beefed up administrative controls over these South China Sea shoals, reefs and islets, even going so far as to promote Chinese tourism and business opportunities in some of the contested territory. Southeast Asian nations have responded by cozying up to the U.S. and even, on occasion, Japan.

(MORE: Return of the Samurai: Japan’s Leadership Seeks to Recapture the Country’s Former Glory)

Over the weekend, the U.S., which is bound by a security treaty to defend Japan should it come under attack, waded into the ADIZ controversy. “The United States is deeply concerned by the People’s Republic of China announcement today that it is establishing an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea,” said a statement from U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. “We view this development as a destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region. This unilateral action increases the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculations.” Although the U.S. claims it does not take sides on who rightfully owns the Diaoyu/Senkaku, Washington has repeatedly said that the American alliance with Japan covers the islets. Hagel’s weekend statement reiterated that “the U.S.-Japan Mutual Defense Treaty applies to the Senkaku Islands.”

On Monday, Japan’s hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the Japanese legislature that the creation of a Chinese air-defense identification zone was “a profoundly dangerous act that may cause unintended consequences.” Characterizing China almost as some rogue actor in international politics, he added: “Japan will ask China to restrain itself while we continue cooperating with the international community.”

In turn, China has expressed dissatisfaction with Japan’s criticism of the newly formed ADIZ. A spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of National Defense labeled Japanese concerns “utterly groundless and China won’t accept them,” explaining that the creation of the ADIZ was “totally rational and indisputable.” China has lodged formal complaints, or what Chinese state media called “solemn representations,” with both the Japanese and U.S. embassies in Beijing.

Early next month, Chinese officials will have the opportunity to discuss the American position on the territorial dispute in person with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who is scheduled for an Asian tour. Unsurprisingly, he will also be visiting Japan.

MORE: How China Sees The World

33 comments
TMichealBenton
TMichealBenton

This whole situation is going to push Japan to discard the Constitution that prevents them from building up a offensive minded military. When they do this, China is going to cry foul, yet it is their actions that are pushing this. If Japan is smart, then they need to start a coalition with all the nations aligned against China, include India, and they should have enough to keep them in check.

nidn1231
nidn1231

I dont get it if you look at the map where the lines are draw for both China and Japan.  It seems to be both countries are at wrong here.  The Japanese has their defense air space out really close to China and Taiwan shores.  So what should you do as a country??? Of course China will do the same thing back but because Japan is the United States' B of course the US will back them up.

DeanJackson
DeanJackson

For those not in the know, the "collapse" of the USSR in 1991 was a strategic ruse under the “Long-Range Policy" (LRP). What is the LRP, you ask? The LRP is the "new" strategy all Communist nations signed onto in 1960 to defeat the West with. The last major disinformation operation under the LRP was the "collapse" of the USSR in 1991. 

The next major disinformation operation under the LRP will be the fraudulent collapse of the Chinese Communist government. When that occurs, Taiwan will be stymied from not joining the mainland. This is why China is buying up gold all over the word. It is believed that China currently has 3,000 [metric] tonnes of gold. When China has 6,000 [metric] tonnes it will have the minimum gold reserves necessary for its currency, the yuan, to replace the United States' dollar as the world's reserve currency, that is after the fraudulent collapse of the Chinese Communist government (the United States gold reserves is approximately 8,133.5 [metric] tonnes).

The "dispute" between China and Japan over those rocks is manufactured by China for a purpose (as are all behaviors of Communist nations. All actions of Communist nations must be analyzed under the rubric of the LRP), and may well be a harbinger of a minor disinformation operation to come under the LRP. This "dispute" will more than likely be used by China as a pretext for a series of military clashes at sea with Japan, where China will fare badly, resulting in China requesting the assistance of Russian arbitration. The "loss of face" incurred by the Communist government 's poor military confrontation with Japan will be used by Beijing to set off a series of "controlled" national crises, where the manipulated public, smelling weakness within the ranks of the People's Liberation Army, "spontaneously" arise to bring down the Communist regime in Beijing:

“Since at least the early 1970s, the Communist party of China has been poised to create a spectacular but controlled “democratization” at any appropriate time. The party had by then spent two decades consolidating its power, building a network of informants and agents that permeate every aspect of Chinese life, both in the cities and in the countryside. Government control is now so complete that it will not be seriously disturbed by free speech and democratic elections; power can now be exerted through the all-pervasive but largely invisible infrastructure of control. A transition to an apparently new system, using dialectical tactics, is now starting to occur.” -- Playing the China Card (The New American, Jan. 1, 1991).



ArnoldSpencer
ArnoldSpencer

Great to see all these peace loving Chinese commentators.

I can't understand why the Japanese would feel threatened by them.

Truly GWB and Clinton will go down in history as patriots and humanitarians for enabling the rise of China.

ChinaLee
ChinaLee

U.S. mutual defense treaties were never designed to deal with China's development of thermonuclear weapons.

The U.S. signed a defense treaty with Japan in 1952. The United States had no idea that China would detonate a 3.3-megaton hydrogen bomb in 1967. China has spent 47 years to prepare for the next war. In 2009, China announced the completion of the 5,000km (or 3,000 mile) Underground Great Wall. No one has any idea how many Chinese thermonuclear warheads are hidden down there.

Here's a picture of two DF-5 ICBMs in China's Underground Great Wall: http://i.imgur.com/CPSlF.jpg

It's time for the United States to extricate itself from an archaic defense treaty with troublesome saber-rattling Japan. After all, what can the U.S. do if China decides to detonate a megaton-EMP over Japan? The answer is not much unless you want to engage in an all-out thermonuclear war with China.

According to NTI, China has at least 294 megatons of thermonuclear warheads and they've been busy building more in the last decade. The U.S. has 570 megatons, France 55, and Britain 16 megatons.

Current list of China's thermonuclear/fusion warheads:

DF-5A ICBM: World's largest deployed warhead at five megatons
DF-5B ICBM: Carries 10 MIRVs with half a megaton per MIRV
DF-31A ICBM: Carries 3 MIRVs
DF-41 ICBM: Carries 10 MIRVs
JL-2 SLBM: Carries 8 MIRVs

Picture of DF-31A ICBM: http://i.imgur.com/AzKcQ.jpg
Picture of DF-41 ICBM: http://i.imgur.com/n2U1mzB.jpg

Frank1303
Frank1303

If China and Japan have a war, the biggest winner is USA. 

TomInShanghai
TomInShanghai

Japan is so great (just ask them), they are the pinnacle of human civilization (just ask them), they actually were trying to liberate Asian countries during WWII (just ask them) - so, they should be able to handle the Chinese, Koreans, or Norks without any assistance from lowly gaijin like U.S......

monsterkingkin
monsterkingkin

The easiest solution is to force Japan to enter a bilateral talk with China and freeze ownership debate for the foreseeable future. No one can enter; no one can develop. Anything else or military confrontations are just for domestic market.

txwiseman
txwiseman

The chinese have achieved impressive economic success, mainly as a result of the greed of Western Corporations and the stupidity of our politicians.  So, we are responsible for creating this monster that is now threatening all its neighbors, not just Japan.  We should do everything to help the Japanese to put china in its place.  


kl_iscool
kl_iscool

Why don't Japan just give back the islands. They know exactly when and who they took it off from. All this just comes to show that America is never a real friend, it only has interest. China was an ally in WW2 that took the greater brunt of Japanese aggression yet America allows Japan to keep a part of Chinese territory after the war.

Mujahideen
Mujahideen

Notice this in the article: "Each nation is free to carve out its own ADIZ, which can extend beyond a country’s own airspace, setting up the potential for competing zones." 

The Japs carved out an ADIZ covering the disputed islets years ago.  Now it's their counterparty's turn.  What's the big deal?  If the Japs are willing to withdraw their ADIZ over the islets, the PRC might consider following the suit.  Otherwise, suck it.

LacompaCida
LacompaCida

Whether China wants war or not,  what it is doing may force a war.  What China intend to do and what will happen are usually not the same,  just like when Xici declared war on 8 European powers in the 1800's, she didn't want to start a war either.

ChinaLee
ChinaLee

China detonates a DF-3A IRBM with a 3.3-megaton warhead at 120 miles above Japan to create a massive EMP that destroys all electronics with a 50,000 volt surge per meter.

The Sino-Japanese war is over.

----------

Regarding the map of China's air defense identification zone, it is perfectly legitimate because it was drawn in accordance with international guidelines.

China's continental shelf is 100 miles from China's coast. Since Japan is an island, its continental shelf is about 5 miles off the Japanese shore. The midpoint between China's and Japan's continental shelves is the international air boundary. This is also the formula used by UNCLOS to delimit an international maritime boundary.

NiuChang
NiuChang

any boosts/moves by japan will be matched by counter-boosts/moves by Chinese military 5 -10 times as large. Chinese military and the overwhelming majority of Chinese nationalists such as me desperately need the boosts from japan - a real threat and enemy to Chinese nation - to justify and maintain the momentum of the annual double digit increase Chinese military spending, which will double every 5 years for the next 2 to 3 decades -- that is Chinese military spending will increase from the current 200 billion to 1.5 trillion in less than 20 years and will be more than 50% of the entire world's military spending -- i.e. double American's, and 10 times of japan's and more than the rest of the world combined, just as the American's budget is today.

As a side effect, within 20 years, China will doom japan by dragging japan to economical suicide and bankruptcy in this multi-decade, ever-accelerating arms race, to the same fate as the former Soviet Union, just as Regan did in the Cold War. More importantly, an absolutely positive effect of the current Sino-japanese standoff will be to dramatically accelerate the Chinese nuclear parity and MAD capability development within the next 10 years and finally bring a lasting strategic stability between China and America, and a permanent peace to Asia continent.

atlas
atlas

This is Japan fault starting this by purchasing the islands and making a new game on the dispute islands. Both China and Japan claimed the islands and Japan has the defensed air zone already, then why not China declares his right on the defensed air zone.  If Japan is so worried the contlict, they should stop purchasing the islands, stop conducting military exercise, stop deploy air missels...  Another problem is the Japan leader Abe showing aggressive attitude to China making the situtation getting worse as he comes from the extreme righ wingt and his background is from the famous WWII war criminal family will not favor to both countries. 

RobertNguyen
RobertNguyen

Chinese 's belligerence must be contained or WWW III will unavoidable be started.

This is truly regretful just for a little greed. The World has given much to China and this is what we have gotten back in return. It's time to bring all jobs back to the US from this rogue nation. 

Dr_BS_Goh
Dr_BS_Goh

USA and Australia fundamental interests in this conflict is to prevent an accident andna very serious war between China and Japan.

The way forward is for USA and Australia to mediate or ask that China and Japan go back to their positions before the so called recent purchase of these Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. In the Peace Treaty between China and Japan in 1972 it was agreed that the dispute should be put into COLD STORAGE. This is an established and well understood policy to avoid wars over accidents of history.

China and India recently used this Cold Storage approach to defuse a dispute over vast territories in the Himalayan Mountains.


World856
World856

@ChinaLee Correct me if I am wrong have the Chinese figured out how to design an aircraft carrier? Or is your country still begging the Russian French and Australian for theirs?

Mujahideen
Mujahideen

@LacompaCida Firstly, it is Cixi rather than Xici.  Secondly, it is not 8 European powers, the so-called "8 powers" also include the USA and the Japs.  Thirdly, it is not the 1800's, its 1900.  

An allout war over the tiny islets is stupid.  A threat of an allout war over the same thing is even stupider.

LacompaCida
LacompaCida

@ChinaLee Tge Sino-Japanese war may be over,  and the Sino-American war has just started.

spollard71
spollard71

@ChinaLee and so we couldn't do that to China? What are you the only folks with Nukes? How about we send 1000 ICBM's to China. Country Over!!


Moron!  Go grab your $0.50 now.

spollard71
spollard71

@NiuChang You're dreaming. To do that you'd have to keep expanding and that won't keep happening until your people can think freely and create disruptive technology that bankrupts some companies and helps others. Until you can create, instead of just mass produce. You are about at the end of the road.

spollard71
spollard71

@atlas Hi Atlas. The CCP called. They have more posts they'd like you to make.

Be_Reasonable
Be_Reasonable

@atlas Actually, Japan did not start this. Japan only purchased the islets after it was alarmed at the aggressive Chinese land grabs in the South China Sea. 


China needs to learn that land grabbing and imperialism is a thing of the past. The civilized world has moved on....it's time for China to move on and join the international community of civilized nations. The land grabbing has to stop!


Perhaps conflicts like these could be avoided if China started ACTING like a responsible power, rather than just SAYING that they are.

ChinaLee
ChinaLee

@spollard71 You would have to explain to the American people why China will detonate a five-megaton EMP from a DF-5A ICBM over the United States in a counter-strike.

Unless you can make a convincing case to the American people that they should live in the Stone Age, the American people will stay out of a Sino-Japanese War.

China is fighting for its territorial integrity. It has prepared at least 40 underground air bases to protects its military aircraft from an EMP.

If necessary, China is willing to engage in an EMP exchange with the United States. It is up to the American people to decide if they want to get in the middle of a Sino-Japanese War. The Chinese people are used to hardship and they are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices.

----------

According to NTI, China has at least 294 megatons of thermonuclear weapons. The United States has 570 megatons.

However, no one knows how many thermonuclear warheads that China is hiding in its 5,000km (or 3,000 mile) Underground Great Wall. We will find out if there's an all-out thermonuclear war between China and the United States.

atlas
atlas

@Be_Reasonable  Your comment is misleading. Japan does not own the islands and they are belongs to China accroding to histroy. Look up the WWII surrender Cario declaration that Japan needs to return the islands. So far this Abe acting aggressively to China by delcaring the stolen islands on its own which is not acceptable. Even worse, this Abe is from the famous WWII war criminal family and shoiwng his objective is to bring back the evil imperial Japan army by using China as an excuse.  

Mujahideen
Mujahideen

@Be_Reasonable @atlas Ya, the time of imperialism is over.  Then why don't the imperialists return the lands they stole from others in the past, like the islets in the East China Sea?

It's like I robbed $100 from you yesterday, I keep the money in the pocket, and I kindly tell you today that "you should learn the time of robbery is over, your should behave like a civilize man as you claimed, I have move on, you should move on too, and let us maintain the status quo until I think otherwise".  How civilized and responsible I am!     

ChinaLee
ChinaLee

@TomInShanghai @ChinaLee Here's a picture of two Chinese DF-5 ICBMs in China's 5,000km (or 3,000 mile) Underground Great Wall.

Picture link: http://i.imgur.com/CPSlF.jpg

For your information, a Chinese DF-5A ICBM has the world's largest deployed thermonuclear at five megatons.

China has developed a more advanced DF-5B MIRVed ICBM version. The Pentagon report refers to it as an "enhanced" DF-5 ICBM. The DF-5B carries 10 MIRVs with about half a megaton per MIRV warhead.

TomInShanghai
TomInShanghai

@ChinaLee Hiding nukes in the 'Underground Great Wall'???  Man, you are sooooooooooooooooo funny!

atlas
atlas

@rip @Mujahideen @Be_Reasonable @atlas

From the jurisprudence perspective, Japan got hold of Diaoyu Dao in 1895 through a war of aggression. The Qing court was defeated in the war and was forced to sign the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki and cede to Japan “the isand of Formosa (Taiwan), together with all islands appertaining or belonging to the said island of Formosa”. Diaoyu Dao was ceded to Japan as one of those islands. When the Chinese government officially declared war against Japan during the World War II, it also declared the abrogation of all treaties between China and Japan, including the Treaty of Shimonoseki, annulling the jurisprudence grounds for Japan to claim Diaoyu Dao. After the victory of the Anti-Fascist War, such important documents as the Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Proclamation, and the Japanese Instrument of Surrender all provided that Diaoyu Dao, as an appertaining island to Formosa (Taiwan), shall be restored to China. In 1951, Japan, the US and a number of other countries signed the Treaty of San Francisco, which placed the Nansei Islands south of the 29th parallel of North Latitude under the United Nations trusteeship, but it did not include Diaoyu Dao. In 1971, Japan and the US signed the Okinawa Reversion Agreement, which in the absence of China provided that any and all powers of administration over the Ryukyu Islands and Diaoyu Dao would be “returned” to Japan. In the aftermath, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a solemn statement. In response to the strong opposition from China, the US publicly clarified its position on the sovereignty over Diaoyu Dao, stressing that the US took a neutral position with regard to the competing Japanese and Chinese claims to the islands.

As China and Japan were normalizing relations and concluding the Sino-Japanese Treaty of Peace and Friendship in the 1970s, the then leaders of the two countries, acting in the larger interest of China-Japan relations, reached important understanding and consensus on “leaving the issue of Diaoyu Dao to be resolved later.” But in recent years, Japan has repeatedly taken unilateral measures concerning Diaoyu Dao and conducted in particular the so-called “nationalization” of Diaoyu Dao. This severely infringed upon China’s sovereignty and ran counter to the understanding and consensus reached between the older generation of leaders of the two countries. It has not only seriously damaged China-Japan relations, but also rejected and challenged the outcome of the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War. This shows Japan steals the islands.