The true crisis in the Asia-Pacific

Article Highlights

  • China’s attempt to change facts on the ground (or water) around the Senkakus is part and parcel of its efforts to create a new order

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  • As in every democratic country, there are irresponsible nationalists in Japan. But Abe is not one of them.

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  • The confrontation over the Senkakus is about more than contested sovereignty claims.

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North Korean bombast has been using up all of the oxygen in the Asia-Pacific, but what may be the region’s most dangerous crisis is raging on a few hundred miles to the south. With front pages focused on Kim Jong-un’s threats and the United States’ shows of force, the ongoing Sino-Japanese impasse has gone overlooked in recent weeks. Even so, it is difficult to overstate the importance of the latter conflict’s long-term implications for peace in Asia.

As tensions in the East China Sea have heated up over the past year, analysts, journalists, and businessmen have been asking two questions: Could Japan and China really come to blows over the Senkaku (or, in Chinese, “Diaoyu”) Islands? Would the United States really allow itself to be drawn into a conflict over a handful of obscure, uninhabited rocks? These questions are based on an errant assumption that the roiling conflict is, at heart, about ownership of the Senkakus. It is not.

Read the full text of this article on The American website.

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Michael
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