This seems to have turned into a thing with Japan, China and South Korea embroiled over ownership of a series of islands in the Japan Sea. I knew more than I wanted to know about the Senkaku island dispute but I actually had no idea that there was a dispute over Takeshima island as well. My Japanese wife vehemently agrees with Japan’s position while I wisely nod and keep any opinions to myself. I don’t think this is going to go anywhere as all three countries have way too much to lose economically if things became even more heated but if someone was thinking of making a game about WWIII then this seems like as plausible a commencement of hostilities as any.
And China vs. Vietnam on other islands and oil/gas fields with Russia publicly announcing more activity and bases there (Gazprom has a majority of the contracts for them).
And China vs. Philippines with more disputed islands and drilling & fishing fields, in this case Philippines just asked the US back to the old bases there and is also splashing “Look! Joint Exercises!” headlines about.
…Japan Sea? I think you mean the East Sea ;)
For what it’s worth, I think Senkaku is the weakest of the claims that Japan has to the territorial disputes - it’s so far out from the other islands that it’s more reasonable to think that China/Taiwan has a better historical claim to that land.
The other is less clear - although what is clear is that this is way for Japanese nationalists to look back to the good ol’ times when Japan was the undisputed #1 in Asia.
If you’ve watched the propaganda in China, it is extremely ugly. The Chinese are screaming “ALL LAWS POINT TO THESE BEING OURS!” and then refuse to take their case to court.
edit: Just recalled: one Chinese news segment which mentions that all of these disputes are part of the US strategy to encircle China. Yes, Obama the Indonesian Muslim is the evil puppet master.
It’s about the sea floor and the under water resources they might be able to extract.
The Chinese are legally obligated to defend any territorial claims to what was once China. Their hands are tied as soon as someone makes a claim.
The PLA is particularly militant on the issue of ‘lost territories.’ You can see the disconnect between the words coming out of Beijing and policy on the ground. They’ve dramatically stepped up their patrols in the region and engaged in aggressive behavior against rival navies. That includes attempts to ‘ram’ their opponents or otherwise disrupt free navigation. They’re doing their best to make life difficult for any civilian commerce as well using similar tactics.
The Party has historically used territorial disputes as a way to incite domestic anger and show its displeasure to the outside world. In doing so they’ve created a monster that they may have trouble containing. That’s going to make life in the region much more difficult for everyone involved.
People believe what they want to see. China still has a lingering fear that the outside world is circling, waiting to disembowel China in the way the colonial powers did in the 19th century. When you see a Pacific chock full of American allies, well… you begin to worry.
One possible view is that fostering these nationalistic feelings helps to take away attention from the problems at home.
I’m sure that’s very much the case. Sort of a ‘we’ve always been at war with Eurasia’ thing. At the same time they don’t want it to get out of hand and force them to do something they don’t want to do. They just want the population to forget that they’re largely a nation of impoverished peasants and there are way more young men than there are available wives.