Difficult past: Dangers of territorial conflicts in Asia

An important topic is the longterm broiling Chinese-Japanese conflict that escalated a couple of months ago,  after a minor incident between Japanese navy vessels and a Chinese fishing boat which wanted to flee a Japanese inspection and finally rammed the pursuing navy vessels. The Chinese captain was freed after a few weeks although it came to serious diplomatic clash between China and Japan which even saw a brief interruption of diplomatic relations. This incident was just the last in a series of confrontations that the neighbours China and Japan have about a heavily disputed area which is rich of natural resources, eg gas around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

The setting up of Chinese flag 3000m deep on the ground of the sea also had the goal to show the determination  of claiming disputed areas elsewhere . Its not only about resources and rivalry –  also  the prevailing mutual distrust since the end of World War II  is important. Even smallest incidents let nationals sentiments explode in both countries which are at least benevolently tolerated by both governments.

In weaker form you find similar problems with many other countries in the South East Asian region, e.g. in the conflict about the Spratly or Paracel Islands in the South China Sea where huge oil and gas fields are . These islands are claimed among others by Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei und the People‘s Republic. Because of the substantially improved relations between the aforementioned countries they agreed to settle the dispute by a conciliatory commission.

It is much to be hoped that China and its neighbours can settle their differences, e.g. by partitioning the disputed areas or by jointly producing the oil and gas.  Furthermore it will be fundamental for China‘s but especially for Japan‘s future that they finally settle their sixty year old conflict. That would not only be in the interest of the both nations economies but the whole world would be freed from a political hot spot that could turn into a violent conflict with  implications not only for the new and old superpowers China and the United States and their Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean Allies but also for the whole world.

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