Wednesday, September 12, 2012

China squares off with Japan in East China Sea

As we are approaching the end of the conference I assume it is early morning in beautiful Singapore and if we speed up the conference we may be able to view the sunrise over the Singapore harbor. The last point of action is the security report and newest information on the attack we experienced earlier this evening. Just as our security chief was starting his speech the red light in the middle of the table.

Great, this delay will definitely cause me to miss the sunrise. Moments later the green light flashes and the door is being unlocked from the outside. As we unlock the door from the inside four guards escort another aide into the conference room with an urgent message for one of the generals. The military front has been very active which bodes well for our business on the financial front.

The most recent hotspot flared up in a familiar spot, the East China Sea. There has been another territorial dispute between China and, this time, Japan. Beijing dispatched to lightly armored patrol boats to the disputed islets of Diaoyu after Japan purchased the uninhabited islets from the Japanese family they recognize as their owner for a deal valued at $26 million. Japan was forced into this purchase thanks to the nationalist governor of Tokyo who called for the purchase and development of the Diaoyu or Senkaku as the Japanese call it.

The Chinese government had similar plans but got beaten by the Japanese which left the only other alternative and the China Marine Surveillance has drawn up a plan to protect what China claims as its own. Taiwan also claims the island or rather islets which consists of a total of five uninhabited islets and three barren rocks. China established claim of the islets in the 14th century while Japan controlled the islets from 1895 until it surrendered to the U.S. during World War II after which the U.S. took over administration until it transferred control back to Japan in 1972. In 1968 oil experts published a study in which it suggested oil reserves under the islets and in the surrounding area.Taiwan just claims the islets group to complicate the situation.

The two Chinese patrol boats will likely sail a fine line just off the 12 nautical mile territory which is classified by international law as sovereign territory of any country. The Chinese will not provoke an international incident by breaching that perimeter and may dispatch more vessels into the area especially if the more powerful Japanese Navy will send its destroyers to the islets. It will come down to who will blink first as both Navy's could see eye to eye for an extended period of time.

On September 7th 2010 a Chinese fishing boat collided with a Japanese Coast Guard patrol boat. The Chinese crew was escorted to Japan and held under custody pending charges. The crew was released on the 13th and the captain on the 24th of September without being charged. The incident disrupted relations between Japan and its biggest trading partner, China.

On July 4th 2012 a Taiwanese fishing boat carried three members of an activist group which raised the PRC flag, but not the ROC flag. China praised the activists while Taiwan criticized them. The fishing boat was was escorted by five vessels of the Taiwanese Coast Guard. The activists claimed they forgot the ROC flag with one of their bags. The Japanese Coast Guard came to intercept the convoy and the captain of the fishing boat wanted to fire a cannon used to scare away dolphins at the Japanese, but the Taiwanese Coast Guard commander told them to stand-down. The Japanese Coast Guard wanted to board the fishing boat, but the Taiwanese Coast Guard fended off the attempts. After the fishing boat left the islets together with four Taiwanese Coast Guard vessels the remaining one bumped into one of the Japanese Coast Guard vessels.

On August 15th 2012 14 activists from Hong Kong arrived at the islets. Upon their arrival they threw batteries as well as broken bricks at the Japanese Coast Guard. Five members landed on Uotsuri. All 14 members were arrested for violating immigration and refugee laws and deported without charges in order to not anger the Chinese.

After the Hong Kong activists were deported the Japanese organized a memorial service for fallen service members of WWII and 150 Japanese boarded 20 boats and held the memorial service. After the service ten swan ashore one of the islets and raised several Hinomaru flags.

Now two Chinese patrols ships have been dispatched to create the potentially biggest incident involving the Diaoyu islets group. The purchase of the islets has resulted in massive protests in China as well as Taiwan. The Chinese government has released coordinates which it claims as its territory and vowed to defend its sovereignty. This may be an incident which will have a long impact on relations between China and Japan.

The aid to one of the generals finishes his briefing and is being escorted out of the conference room. The doors are being locked from the inside as well as the outside and we prepare for the final point of the conference which is the briefing by our security chief.

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