Rising Tensions In East China Sea Territorial Dispute

For months, China and Japan have engaged in an exchange of threats and counter-threats with regard to the ownership of five islets in the East China Sea. In recent weeks, the fragile relationship has come under increasing strain and has raised fears that a minor tussle could trigger a larger and more dangerous conflict.

Partially in response to the ongoing dispute over the islands, which the Japanese call Senkaku and the Chinese call Diaoyu, Japan unveiled new maritime policy guidelines that will expand patrol and information gathering capabilities, and lay out steps for “dealing appropriately” with foreign vessels that anchor or stay in Japanese territorial waters, according  to the Wall Street Journal.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting on Monday to discuss possible resolutions to another territorial dispute over the Kuril Islands that has been unresolved since the end of the Second World War.

Council of Foreign Relations senior fellow Sheila A. Smith delves into the escalating tensions between China and Japan and the role the US must play in averting a potentially dangerous conflict.

The danger posed by a minor conflagration, says Smith is that “against the backdrop of China’s growing military power, the island dispute has increased concerns in Tokyo about Beijing’s regional intentions and the adequacy of Japan’s security, while stoking nationalistic politics in both capitals. Political miscalculation in Tokyo or Beijing, or unintended military interactions in and around the disputed islands, could escalate further, leading to an armed clash between Asia’s two largest powers.”

Smith recommends US policymakers should be pursuing three broad policy goals:

  1. Promote de-escalation of the dispute,
  2. Initiate crisis management consultations with Japan, and
  3. Intensify efforts to create multilateral maritime risk reduction mechanisms in the Asia-Pacific region.

Sheila Smith’s Full Report Can Be Downloaded HERE

Radical Islam Also Posing Threats In Arab Nations
The threat of radical Islam has been a longtime concern for Western nations, and that threat, as the recent attacks at the Boston Marathon demonstrate, is quite real. Contrary to popular belief, Arab nations also rightly fear the spread of that brand of radicalism to their homelands.

One of the unforeseen consequences of intervention in the civil war in Mali by France and the United Nations, according to an article in The Guardian, has been the migration of radical Islamists from Mali to Libya.

Among the diplomatic class, those fears were increased following the bombing of the French embassy in Tripoli last week. One senior western diplomat told the newspaper that the fingerprints of radical forces are clear.

“There are established links between groups in both Mali and Libya – we know there are established routes. There is an anxiety among the political class here that Mali is blowing back on them.”





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