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Old 03-30-2013, 03:37 PM   #61
Rohirrim's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Twixt Hell & Highwater
Posts: 55,935

Malik Jackson

It's naive to look on this move of NKs as totally separate from the campaign of aggression the Chinese have been pushing the last few years:

China's creeping assertiveness towards its neighbours, evident since 2008-09, has become even bolder. Within weeks of his (Xi's) ascendancy, for the first time, four Chinese warships entered waters near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands that China calls Diaoyu. This was followed by a Chinese maritime surveillance aircraft flying over the contested islands, prompting Japan to scramble its own fighter jets. A confrontation was avoided as the Chinese plane had left the area before Japanese interceptors arrived. But the message was clear: China was ready to use force to change the status quo. Although the island has been under Japanese control for five decades, China's attempt to change the reality on the ground is perhaps based on calculation that a weakened and dispirited Japan would seek to avoid direct confrontation. China's aggressive moves also coincided with its submission of documents to the UN, detailing its claims to the continental shelf in the East China Sea.

This escalation comes in the wake of other incidents in the South China Sea, in which Chinese patrol boats had repeatedly intercepted Vietnamese and Malaysian survey vessels and cut seismic cables used for exploration. China's Hainan province has passed a law allowing its officials to search and repel foreign ships believed to be engaged in "illegal activities" in the territorial waters surrounding islands that China claims. Like the surveillance flight over Senkakus, this operation too, is designed to make good China's claim to the islets, rocks and surrounding waters claimed by Beijing.

By launching its first aircraft carrier and expanding its maritime patrol Beijing has put some teeth behind its territorial claims. These military moves have also been accompanied by stepped up economic pressure on the neighbours. After banning exports of rare earth minerals (on which China holds a monopoly) to Japan, China has sharply cut back imports from Japan and scaled down Chinese tourist visits to the country, causing Japan to run a trade deficit for the fifth month in a row. Earlier, China cancelled banana imports from the Philippines in retaliation for its challenge to China's territorial claims. Alarmed Vietnamese officials have called on China to desist from using trade tools in settling a territorial dispute. As Vietnam's largest trade partner, China holds considerable sway.


Last edited by Rohirrim; 03-30-2013 at 03:40 PM..
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