Monday, January 21, 2013

China-U.S. Tensions: Heading Toward War? ~ China: Clinton’s Words On Island Dispute Among Most Aggressive Ever

via Stop NATO
Global Times
January 21, 2013

Mixed US signals need not alarm China
China’s priority is to maintain our attitude toward the Diaoyu Islands. We have to help other sides properly understand us. There should have no ambiguity when it comes to China’s willingness to counterattack in the event of a military provocation. As long as there is understanding, the words of the US won’t seem so important.

Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday that the US has no position on the Diaoyu Islands dispute. She did however, claim that the islands are under the administrative jurisdiction of Japan and that the US opposes any unilateral moves to encroach on Japan’s area of jurisdiction. This demonstrates that the US has admitted its bias in the Diaoyu Islands dispute. 

This doesn’t come as a surprise. If further escalation of the confrontation between China and Japan occurs, such signs of bias may also be demonstrated by the US military. If the situation leads to conflict, US forces in Japan will take further actions to exert pressure on China. China should be psychologically prepared for this.

Some elements of the Diaoyu Islands disputes and the South China Sea disputes will be partly transformed into a competition between China and the US. If we regard Clinton’s remarks as a significant change, the whole diplomatic strategy of our country should be revised and the importance of our national rejuvenation needs to be reexamined. 

Does this mean that military conflict between China and the US will be triggered by a conflict such as the Diaoyu Islands dispute? Perhaps not. 

It will depend on whether the US has the determination to contain China’s rise via military means. We have not yet seen such determination. 

With China’s rise, the risks faced by the US in any military action will increase. Obviously, the US does not want to face such risks if they can be avoided.

It also depends on whether China moves to directly threaten core US interests. If China expands its forces and tries to drive the US out of East Asia, the US will resort to military action despite the risks. However, China has no such intention. 

The Diaoyu Islands lie within the range of our national defense forces’ effective zone of deterrence, so US tactical intervention has no certainty of success. China has enough military and non-military means to retaliate against US actions.

Therefore, China should treat subtle changes in US statements rationally. There’s no need to exaggerate words that suit China’s aims, nor be afraid of US bias. US influence is important, but not so powerful that China cannot deal with it. 

There is going to be a very complex period involving games between China, the US and Japan. These three sides will test each other’s bottom line as well as enjoy the benefits brought about by cooperation. They do not intend to go to war, but they are all preparing for an emergency. Despite the many tactical uncertainties, it is not the time for powers in the Western Pacific to engage in a strategic collision. The Diaoyu Islands are not big enough to be the trigger for this.

China’s priority is to maintain our attitude toward the Diaoyu Islands. We have to help other sides properly understand us. There should have no ambiguity when it comes to China’s willingness to counterattack in the event of a military provocation. As long as there is understanding, the words of the US won’t seem so important. 


Global Times
January 21, 2013

Clinton heats up Diaoyu row
By Bai Tiantian

China Sunday expressed strong dissatisfaction and opposed US comments regarding the disputes between Beijing and Tokyo over the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a veiled warning to Beijing not to challenge Tokyo’s control of the disputed islets.

Observers said the latest US comment was “one of the most aggressive” positions on the disputes, and was dangerous enough to embolden Japanese right-wing politicians to make more radical moves on the disputes.

Qin Gang, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Sunday called Clinton’s comments “ignorant of the facts” and “indiscriminate in terms of right and wrong,” and said the US bears undeniable historical responsibility for the issue of the Diaoyu Islands, referring to the fact that despite opposition from China, the US put the islands under Japanese control after World War II. 

“We urge the US side to adopt a responsible attitude in regard to the issue of the Diaoyu Islands. It should be careful with its words and acts, and maintain regional peace, stability and the general situation of China-US relations with practical actions and build credit with the Chinese people,” Qin said.

Qin’s comment was made in response to a speech by Clinton on Friday during a joint news conference at the State Department after holding a meeting with the new Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.

“Although the US does not take a position on the ultimate sovereignty of the islands, we acknowledge they are under the administration of Japan,” Clinton said. 

“We oppose any unilateral actions that would seek to undermine Japanese administration, and we urge all parties to take steps to prevent incidents and manage disagreements through peaceful means,” said the outgoing secretary of state, who also invited new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to visit Washington next month.

Japan’s Kyodo News commented that it was the first time Clinton had clearly stated Washington’s opposition to altering the status quo regarding the isles.

Qu Xing, director of the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times Sunday that the US’ explicit support for Japan showed a big change in Washington’s public tone over the issue, and that Washington’s stance on the Diaoyu row is “never neutral.”
Qu’s opinion was echoed by Ni Feng, an expert on East Asia security affairs from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who told the Global Times that Clinton’s statement is one of the most aggressive comments over the Diaoyu Islands ever released by the US. 

“It complicates the current situation between China and Japan and will very likely deepen the conflict as the statement clearly encourages Japanese right-wing politicians to make more radical moves since the statement assured them of US protection should a military clash break out,” Qu said.

Since December 13, 2012, Chinese government aircraft have conducted several patrols in the airspace over the Diaoyu Islands, prompting Japan to scramble F-15 fighter jets to the area.
On January 10, China sent two J-10 fighters to the East China Sea after a Chinese Y-8 aircraft was closely followed by two Japanese F-15 fighters as it patrolled the southwestern airspace of the East China Sea oil platform.

Qu said the aggressiveness of Clinton’s speech is a signal that the US believes a military conflict between the two countries is more likely to happen given the tense situation.

“It would be a political and economic disaster for the US if the world’s second largest economy and the world’s third largest economy engaged in a war,” warned Ni.

Despite rising tensions between the two neighbors, the channel for dialogues is still open.
A handwritten letter from Abe is expected to be sent to Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central committee, this week by Natsuo Yamaguchi, the head of the New Komeito Party and Abe’s close ally, to initiate a high-level talk over the territorial dispute, the Nikkei newspaper reported.

Xinhua contributed to this story

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