Commentary | September 12, 2016

Can China disarm Japan’s moves in the South China Sea?

Tensions are spiking again between China and Japan as China seeks to fend off any involvement by Japan in the disputed waters of the South China Sea and China tightens the vice on Japan in the East China Sea, J. Berkshire Miller writes in Asia & The Pacific Policy Society.

Last month, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy conducted a number of naval drills in the Sea of Japan, termed “a confrontation drill”, aimed at simulating a potential maritime conflict. Of course, Beijing caveated—with little attention to strategic planners in Tokyo and Washington—that the exercise was “not aimed at any one country”. The drills, which follow a significant uptick in tensions over the past few months in the East and South China Seas, are telling on Beijing’s strategic intentions to push back against what it sees as a coordinated and sustained effort by the US and its allies—principally Japan—to “name, shame and contain” China.

Indeed, the past year has seen a marked deterioration in Japan-China relations, especially as a result of increased tensions in the East and South China Sea. One of the big watermarks has been the decision on July 12, by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, to award the tribunal ruling to the Philippines in its dispute with China over the latter’s expansive claims in the South China Sea, largely centered on its intentional ambiguity surrounding the infamous “nine-dash line”. Beijing has predictably responded by calling the ruling a “waste of paper” and has assembled its diplomatic influence in the fractured Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in order to disrupt potential unity on whether the ruling should be respected. 

 

The full article can be accessed here.