Upping the Ante in the East China Sea

South Korea Announces Expansion of Its Air Defense Zone - NYTimes.com

via South Korea Announces Expansion of Its Air Defense Zone – NYTimes.com.

South Korea’s expanded “air defense identification zone” was the latest sign of a broadening discord among the Northeast Asian neighbors, who are already locked in territorial and historical disputes.

China and S Korea are feuding over a submerged reef in the middle of the sea.  Right now S Korea has a research station at Ieo-do, called Suyan Rock by the Chinese.  The main attraction is that the seabed around the reef is full of oil and gas, which both countries need.

China expanded its Air Defense Zone 2 weeks ago to include a small group of islands northeast of Taiwan called Diayou.  The Japanese also claim the islands, which they call Senkaku.

Japan and S Korea are disputing control of 2 small islets in the East Sea (Sea of Japan) know as Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan.

China’s attempt to police additional airspace over the East China Sea has highlighted a potentially volatile dispute between China and South Korea. The South Korean Navy is already building a $970 million base naval base in Jeju, an island off the southern coast of South Korea, to protect shipping lanes for South Korea’s oil-dependent, export-driven economy as well as to respond quickly to any dispute with China over the submerged reef.

All these countries need energy resources, and so this will probably end badly – we can only hope the US doesn’t get dragged into the conflict.

Chinese Brinkmanship – 边缘政策

Protesters chant slogans outside the Japanese Consulate General in Hong Kong yesterday as they hold up a picture of the Diaoyu Islands with words reading: “Diaoyu belongs to China” and a sign saying: “Evil spirits of mountains and rivers.”

China dispatches ships to Diaoyu — Shanghai Daily | 上海日报 — English Window to China New.

TWO China Marine Surveillance ships reached waters around the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea yesterday morning to assert the country’s sovereignty in a show of protest against Japan’s “purchase” of the largely barren outcroppings from so-called private Japanese owners.

The two countries are locked in a dispute over some islands, with the winner being able to claim the right to mine the rich gas fields around the islands.

In a statement read out on a state television news broadcast, the foreign affairs committee of China’s legislature said yesterday: “We strongly urge Japan to fully grasp the dangerousness of the present situation and step back from the edge of a precipice over the Diaoyu Islands issue.”

This is a serious game of chicken, with neither country willing to back down.  How will this issue be resolved?  How far will China and Japan push each other?  How will the US avoid getting sucked into this dangerous situation?

An Island by Any Other Name……

BBC News – Japan arrests pro-China activist swimmers in island row.

Japanese police have arrested 14 pro-China activists who landed on disputed islands, reports say.

The group had sailed from Hong Kong to the islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, followed by Japanese coastguard vessels.

The area around the islands is a rich fishing ground, near major shipping lanes, and possibly contains oil resources.  These are not the only islands Japan  disputes claims of ownership.

Meanwhile, a group of South Koreans finished a relay swim early on Wednesday to another group of islands claimed by Japan.

It followed the first-ever visit of a South Korean president to the islands – called Dokdo by South Korea and Takeshima in Japan – on Friday.

How will these disputes be resolved?  Will this lead to further aggression?  We can only hope not, and that Japan and the other nations involved will be willing to reach a mutually agreeable solution.

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