Heightened Tensions in East China Sea: Reactions from China and Japan

Heightened Tensions in East China Sea: Reactions from China and Japan

Earlier this month, after China repeatedly flew surveillance aircraft into disputed airspace with Japan and prompted Tokyo to send F-15s in response, China sent fighters of its own into the East China Sea on January 10th. This post highlights commentary from China and Japan on this area fraught with contention between the two countries.


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.

  • 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.”