Tensions Grow Over Disputed Islands in the East China Sea: Senkaku Islands

There are high international tensions boiling around five small islands and three rocky outcroppings about 75 miles from Taiwan and 90 miles from the closest Japanese island (click here for more).

The Chinese call them the Diaoyu Islands and claim them as part of Chinese territory dating back to the 14th Ming Dynasty.

The Japanese call them the Senkaku Islands and say they incorporated the islands in 1895 - when they placed a marker on one of them declaring them to be part of Japan.

Above: Thousands of Chinese protesters marching in a demonstration in southwest China's Sichuan province against Japan's claim of the Senkaku islands.

For almost 200 years, neither country focused very much attention to the islands - as they were thought to hold little commercial value - they are covered by jungle, there is fresh water only from rainfall, and the only significant animal life are small goats that were introduced about 30 years ago.

But then in 1970, the Chinese began to take interest after a United Nations study showed there might be oil and gas in the seabed around the islands.  Today, these islands are source of increasing tensions between Beijing and Tokyo as they are near key sea-lanes and both nations are laying claim to the fishing and natural gas deposits in and around the islands (click here for more).

On August 15, 2012, the 60th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War, a group of activists landed on the biggest island, Uotsuri, as part of China's public relations campaign for ownership. The Japanese government detained them (click here for more).

Following the detainment of the Chinese, Japanese activists waved the Nippon flag on one of the islands. This sparked off protests across China. Chinese protesters took to the streets, attacking Japanese-made cars and Japanese-owned businesses (click here for more).

Discussion starters:

1.     Is this growing dispute a manifestation of shifting power balances in the region?

2.     Do you see international law providing a solution to this dispute?



International Relations wrote Geopolitics and Foreign Policy in the South China Sea
on 09-03-2012 12:22 PM

Speaking in Jakarta today, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States has a national

International Relations wrote United States sends two B-52 bombers into newly established Chinese air defense identification zone in East China Sea
on 11-27-2013 8:06 AM

There are a group of very small islands in the East China Sea that the Japanese call the Senkaku Islands

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