North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Sunday, September 19, 2010

China and Japan in sudden dispute

The troubled waters between China and Japan

It seems inevitable that at some point, China and Japan, now with world economies at #2 and #3 respectively, will have to take on a more serious, thoughtful ongoing relationship, rather than relying on tenuous, minimal diplomatic contact. Japan is calculating how to maintain its world economic status even as its population ages, and having always to import virtually all its raw materials, while China booms along using more resources, growing economically at one of the highest paces in the world.

The latest incident began last week with a Chinese fishing vessel colliding with a Japanese coastguard ship off a series of islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Details of the incident unexpectedly included an aggressiveness by the Chinese vessel's captain, who Japan said deliberately collided with two Coast Guard ships after finally responding to repeated messages to move out of Japanese waters. While Japan has returned the trawler and its crew, the captain is being held for legal proceedings.

The Chinese fishing trawler and crew has been returned

The 41 year old captain, however, was arrested and is being detained for possible court proceedings

The disputed islands are close to strategically important shipping lanes, offer rich fishing grounds and are thought to contain oil deposits. Japan currently controls them, but both countries claim ownership. One observer noted "It's unclear what the Chinese would actually do beyond a threat. But it is important to point out that the Chinese have been unhappy with reports that the Americans and the Japanese intend to hold military exercises in this region later this year.

"When it comes to China, there's a lot of national pride. You can look at this as a case of China saying 'these islands belong to us'. "It's about territorial integrity and this is something we've seen in China time and time again. China is saying that Taiwan is part of China, that Tibet belongs to China, so it's part of a wider theme."

China has repeatedly demanded the release of the trawler captain, Zhan Qixiong, , and constructed street demonstrations in its country to show its displeasure with Japan.

The islands in question, as well as the incident itself, are reminders of the unsettled nature of the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. The Korean peninsula is inbetween these two seas, and earlier this summer, a torpedo from North Korea sunk a South Korean military ship. In addition, the US has a very large naval presence at its base in Okinawa, an island part of the chain which is Japanese territory, not to mention over 30,000 troops on the line between South and North Korea. Thus, there are a number of flashpoints in an area full of shipping by both countries.

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