The East China Sea affair
Who owns the Senkaku/Diaoyu/Diaoyutai islets and why are two powerful nations (three if you include Taiwan) flexing muscles over them? A small number of uninhabited or uninhabitable rocks jutting out of the sea don’t seem to be pricey real estate in the eyes of a simpleton but knowing ownership comes along with fishing rights, miles of pacific ocean and potential oil and gas deposits, then waging war might be worth it. Taiwan can’t even formally declare itself independent of China, yet it doesn’t want to be left out. Its presence in this tussle can be likened to interference by Rey Mysterio in a WrestleMania match between Big Show and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin nursing an injured knee and of course a dignified Mr. McMahon (USA) pulling some strings in the background.
The islets are closer to Taiwan and Japan than they are to China but geographically are part of the Chinese continental shelf. They were annexed by Japan at a time when it was the strongest nation in the region. The claimants cannot agree on a name for the islets, the name given by Taiwan (Diaoyutai) is completely ignored by the media, I actually found it by chance. The media isn’t sure of the number of islets, some say eight others say five but they all seem to be pretty sure war is imminent in the East China Sea and and the experts are having a field day, Reinhard Drifte‘s take is the simplest I’ve come across.
“I would annex the planets if I could; I often think of that. It makes me sad to see them so clear and yet so far”. – Cecil Rhodes
Powerful nations love to have overseas territories and the economist pretty much sums it up in this graphic detail. Disputes over tiny islands are very common especially when the islands are rich in resources, The Falkland islands/Las Malvinas dispute has not gone away but has been reduced to exchange of letters by the parties involved in newspapers which is just silly but entertaining. As for the East China Sea affair, the situation could really get messy. On the long term, whoever has the most guns and the deepest pockets may claim the islets. Other nations having disputes with China over other islands in the region will be hesitant to show solidarity with either side; Japan, an old aggressor whose power is waning and China, the new kid on the block and potential aggressor.
There’s been so much talk about China as a rising world power, while there’s no room for war warmongering on the blog, I for one am curious as to what a contemporary “made in China” war will look like.