China-Japan tensions throw U.S. Focus on Asia off-balance

This article which shares the name if this blog post I found in while browsing through the print edition of the Washington Post. Unfortunatelly I have not been able to find an online copy but I will include a picture of the article if possible.

This article goes in depth on the Japanese and Chinese tensions over the chain of Islands in the East China Sea. China and Japan who have a storied history of hostility, are now not speaking to each other as tensions increase. The US who is trying to quell tempers on either side is not even being listened to. Obama who had tried to shift America’s foreign policy focus out of the middle east an onto East Asia now is stuggling to maintain good relationships in the area. Some in China are saying that America has reverted to Cold War era tactics and their siding with Taiwan and Japan is simply containment tactics. The United States denys the claims. However, the US is allied with Taiwan and Japan and sworn to help in their defense if necessary. On the other hand the US has massive economic investments in China and wants to maintain cordial relationships with the Chinese as well. The author of this article calls this an “impossible balancing act for a “perfect world” scenario.”

This article outlines an aspect of what I want to study. I want to look into this tension over a virtually uninhabited and fairly useless string of islands. I want to know what the deeper reason for tension is between these two historically hostile countries and also how these tensions affect the US, and Sino-American relationships.

One thought on “China-Japan tensions throw U.S. Focus on Asia off-balance

  1. Your Penultimate sentence about tensions over”a virtually uninhabited and fairly useless string of islands” threw my mind immediately to the Falkland Islands. The Falklands are still held by the British for, in the words of one comedian, “strategic sheep purposes.” The Argentinan-English conflict over the Falklands would be a bizarre little thing, easily forgotten, if it hadn’t caused the downfall of the Argentinan government. I make this point for a reason: Argentina’s military dictatorship made a rash move in declaring war on Great Britain over a small and useless piece of land, and they did not do so due to any intrinsic value of the islands nor because their place in the international balance of power demanded it. These two motives, reasons of profit or foreign affairs/power dynamics, i.e. China-Japanese or China-U.S. tensions, are the two you have suggested for China. I would like to suggest a third for you to consider, that sometimes nationalism or internal political movements demand international action. In the case of Argentina, the government tried to rally an increasingly estranged populace and public image behind a war to reclaim what was in their minds de jure Argentinan territory. Neither the islands’ value nor foreign policy dictated the decision; it was a public opinion campaign within the country first. Consider this type of motive too, or at least what sort of response Chinese defense and claims over the islands would evoke to the Chinese layman.

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