Heightened Tensions in East China Sea: Reactions from China and Japan
Chinese commentary provided scathing criticism of Japan’s actions in the dispute, blaming the Shinzo Abe administration and the United States for escalation in tensions.
- “It is the latest provocation by the newly installed Shinzo Abe administration to test the response as well as the tolerance of China and of the broader international community,” said the state-run People’s Daily. “Japan has become the vanguard of the US’ strategy which aims to contain China,” declared the Global Times.
- Li Qingsi, a professor at the School of International Studies, Renmin University of China, added that “China has been earnestly persuading Japan to reflect on its war crimes, but its efforts have not resonated with the international community, especially the US, which believes an anti-China Japan will be conducive to its ‘return to Asia’ strategy.“
- The China Daily wrote, “In recent years, countries like Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam have not only lodged unwarranted claims over China’s territorial waters and islands in the East China Sea and the South China Sea…they have also tried to enlist support from countries outside the region for their ill-grounded claims. Their reckless moves have brought more risks and challenges to China’s security environment and prompted China to respond and react in a timely and effective manner.” Therefore, China’s patrols in the East and South China Sea should be regarded as a normal performance of duty for “safeguarding sovereignty.”
In Japan, editorials expressed a more nuanced view of the crisis, cautioning leaders on both sides to act with restraint.
- Yoshibumi Wakamiya, editor-in-chief of the Asahi Shimbun, stated that “It is easy for the leader of one nation to criticize another. But what is expected of all true leaders is the wisdom and courage to stop any chain reaction of dangerous and misguided nationalism by firmly warning their own people against it.”
- Noting that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will make his first overseas trip to Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia this week, the Asahi Shimbun underscored the importance of “countries facing challenges posed by China’s growing economic and military power to bolster their cooperation.” At the same time, the editorial expressed hope that Abe will “adopt a diplomatic agenda designed to ease tensions in Asia and contribute to peace and prosperity in the region.”
- The Japan Times took a more nationalistic stance on the dispute, stating that “China is repeatedly violating Japanese territorial waters and airspace around the islands. Japan needs to enhance its ability to protect its territorial waters and airspace in the area…at the same time, Japan should strive to counter voices in the international community that are attempting to undermine the legitimacy of Japan’s possession of the Senkaku Islands.”