China Asserts Itself

Tensions have been running quite high between China and Japan lately,due to an ongoing dispute over the contested Senkaku or as the Chinese call them,Diaoyu islands.This is nothing new of course since the dispute goes back more than a century,when China was still governed by the Qing dynasty,and Japan was at the end of the Meiji period.But the strategic importance of the islands was elevated in the late 1960s,when it was discovered that the seabed around them was potentially rich in oil and gas.A few days ago Japan decided to buy a group of the islands from their owner,the Kurihara family,eliciting an immediate response from China that dispatched several patrol boats as a show of force.

This can and should be interpreted as yet another sign of China’s confidence and resolution to assert control of what it considers a part of its sphere of influence,mainly the East China Sea,an effort that sets it in a path of confrontation with the region’s current master,the US,and its allies,Japan and South Korea.

It serves as a good indication that patriotic feelings run high in the “communist” country,a fact that its new leadership can use to its advantage should its economy,that many in the West-perhaps a bit spitefully-predict,suffers a hard-landing in the coming years.The tools by which Chinese leaders hope to become the dominant force of the region have been growing steadily,as China unveils yet another advanced fighter prototype,prepares to commission its first aircraft carrier ,and commences building a new class of destroyers,setting the foundations for a blue-water navy.

We will not dwell on the larger issue of what are the prospects for each of the aforementioned players here,but we will make a special note on how significant parts of the Chinese population reacted to Japan’s move-with a little official backing,no doubt-via this excellent piece from zerohedge,for as they say,a picture is worth a thousand words…






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