US Interventionism in Asia Antagonizes China, Aggravates Regional Tensions

John Glaser, May 09, 2013

The dispute between China and Japan over territorial claims to the Senkaku/Diaoyu island chains has become the front line in the Sino-Japanese realpolitik rivalry. But it is at least as much about the geo-political contest between the U.S. and China, with Japan as a proximate instrument of American power in East Asia.

President Obama’s so-called ‘Asia pivot’ is an aggressive policy that involves surging American military presence throughout the region and backing basically all of China’s rivals in a nationalistic scheme to block China’s rise as a world power. Included in this scheme is beefing up U.S. naval presence in the region’s vital waterways and reaffirming America’s security arrangements with countries like Japan. If Japan’s security is ever threatened, say our defense treaties, America will go to war on their behalf.

This understandably rattles China. A 2012 report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies predicted, correctly it turns out, that 2013, “could see a shift in Chinese foreign policy based on the new leadership’s judgment that it must respond to a U.S. strategy that seeks to prevent China’s reemergence as a great power.”

“Signs of a potential harsh reaction are already detectable,” the report said. “The U.S. Asia pivot has triggered an outpouring of anti-American sentiment in China that will increase pressure on China’s incoming leadership to stand up to the United States. Nationalistic voices are calling for military countermeasures to the bolstering of America’s military posture in the region and the new US defense strategic guidelines.”

And America’s role in Sino-Japanese tensions became even more explicit with news today that Japan lodged a diplomatic protest after Chinese state media “published a commentary by two Chinese government-backed scholars who said ownership of the Ryukyu islands should be re-examined,” Reuters reports. The Ryukyu islands are separate from the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute, resting further northeast. Importantly, the Ryukyu islands include Okinawa, the location of the biggest U.S. military base in all of Japan, holding about 50,000 U.S. military personnel.

The controversy prompted an ostentatious exchange:

“China cannot accept Japan’s so-called negotiations or protests,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing.

“The relevant scholars’ academic articles reflect attention and research paid by China’s populace and academia to the Diaoyu Islands and related historical problems,” Hua said.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular briefing in Tokyo on Wednesday that the islands were Japanese territory.

“Japan lodged a stern protest that we can by no means accept the article in question if it reflects the Chinese government’s stance,” Suga said.

China had responded to Japan by saying that the piece was written by scholars as individuals, Suga said.

The Chinese scholars claimed the Ryukyu islands were a “vassal state” of China’s Ming and Qing dynasties before they were annexed by Japan. Whether that has any legitimacy whatsoever, I don’t know. But it is probably not so coincidental that the conspicuous claim to even more territory long claimed by Japan also holds 50,000 U.S. military personnel.

The attempt by the United States to debilitate China for the sake of its own global hegemony has predictably emboldened China. Beijing and Tokyo have nearly come to blows in the recent past over conflicting territorial claims, but only after being inflamed by the U.S.-China rivalry in the background.

Late last year, a Chinese think-tank predicted that military conflict between China and Japan might be inevitable, thanks in part to US meddling in the Asia-Pacific region.

As for the Senkaku Islands, the report explained that Japan’s right-wing groups, which have gained strength through the country’s two decades of a sluggish economy called “the lost 20 years,” regarded U.S. policy of “pivoting to Asia” as the best opportunity to nationalize the islands. In September, Japan purchased three of the five Senkaku Islands, called the Diaoyu Islands in China, from a private landowner.

…“Japan’s nationalization of the Diaoyu Islands destroyed the framework for keeping a balance, which means ‘shelving a conflict,’ ” a Chinese diplomatic source said.

A veteran Chinese diplomat warned back in October that the US is using Japan as a strategic tool in its military surge in Asia-Pacific aimed at containing China and is heightening tensions between China and Japan. Chen Jia, who served as an under secretary general of the United Nations and as China’s ambassador to Japan, accused the US of encouraging a militaristic response by Japan. “The US is urging Japan to play a greater role in the region in security terms, not just in economic terms,” he said.

The U.S. shouldn’t have a military presence in Japan and shouldn’t be subsidizing Japanese defense. Washington has kept up its massive military presence throughout East Asia in order to keep geo-political rivals weak and maintain its own dominance. U.S. troop presence doubly antagonizes China in the already threatening context of Obama’s Asia-Pivot and U.S. meddling in the peculiar territorial disputes in the region that are none of America’s business only makes things worse, while giving Washington an excuse to police that part of the world just as it tries to do so in the rest of the world.

33 Responses to “US Interventionism in Asia Antagonizes China, Aggravates Regional Tensions”

  1. US and Japan are warmongers, and as I see it, it is their perceived military might that gives them the courage to enter into territorial disputes with China, so as to provoke China to a war. In US' pivot to Asia, the US has lured Japan, Australia, India, Philippines and Vietnam to form an anti-China military alliances and encouraged them to take tough stance on territorial disputes with China.

    However, I believe that US has chosen the wrong region to challenge China's military, which is in Asia, where there is a Communist bloc, comprising of Russia, North Korea and Vietnam. When a war erupts between the US and China, as a result of China's territorial dispute with any of the above-mentioned claimant nation, the war will erupt into a global conflict between US and allies in one corner vs. Russia and allies in the opposite corner. I would think that it would signal the beginning of the end of the US.

  2. More like the begginning of the end for hummanity. No won wins in a nuclear war numbnuts.

  3. USA militarism helping EU and are at war with the world.., one for to remain the master of the world economy.., the other where there is energy.., which is why both are at war with the world.

  4. China's greed is the cause of tension in Asia. China invaded and annexed Tibet and Uyghuristan (Xinjiang), formerly independent countries of the Tibetan and Uyghur peoples. Not satisfied, China claim the state of Arunachal Pradesh in India on the basis that Arunachal Pradesh was part of the once-independent Tibet. Not satisfied, China claim 80% of the South China Sea with the nine dash line. She claimed Senkaku and is laying groundwork for claiming Ryukyu. If China claims Senkaku and Ryukyu on the basis that they belonged to China back in the time of the Ming empire, will China return to its land border as in the time of the Ming empire, return Tibet and Uyghuristan (Xinjiang) to the Tibetans and the Uyghurs ?.

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  7. Unless you condemn and request strongly the American Indian, Hawaiian, Mexican and Guamanian land occupier to get out of their lands going back to Europe or what you said is insignificant. You seem to be the land occupier's running dog against China, do you think the land occupier can do something helping you independent from China? If so, you are dreaming. Remind you the land occupier boasted himself as the unique superpower in the world and that he could fight and win two wars at the same time, but after more than ten years this would-be superpower still pursued by Taliban , poor Tibetan and Uyghuran rebels, keep being in exile to death .

  8. China wants Senkaku back because Senkaku belonged to her since the time of the Ming Empire ?. What about Tibet and Uyghuristan (East Turkestan or Xinjiang) which were once independent countries of the Tibetans and the Uyghurs but were conquered and annexed by China. Many Chinese feel the pain of losing Senkaku, a tiny uninhabited island which they believe belonged to China a few hundreds years ago. Imagine the pain the Tibetans and the Uyghurs feel about losing their entire countries to China, countries which formerly belonged to the Tibetans and the Uyghurs since thousands of years ago. Many Chinese are angry when a dozen Japanese landed on and then left Senkaku. Imagine the anger the Tibetans and the Uyghurs feel as they watch hundreds of thousands of Chinese immigrating into their countries, turning the Tibetans and the Uyghurs into ethnic minorities in their own countries. Chinese peoples can freely express their pain and anger about Senkaku on the media but the Tibetans and the Uyghurs have no way of expressing their pain and anger in any media because when the Tibetans and the Uyghurs do so, Chinese police would come to arrest them and put them in jail. Isn’t it selfish to focus on a small hurt other inflicted on you while ignoring the great hurt you inflicted upon others. Many Chinese are angry at Japan for killing millions of Chinese during the Second World War. Imagine the anger the Tibetans and the Uyghurs feel at China for killing Tibetans and Uyghurs during the conquest of Tibet and Uyghuristan and during the uprising in Tibet and Uyghuristan. Because there are only several millions of Tibetans and Uyghurs, the number of Tibetans and Uyghurs that were killed by Chinese troops constitute a greater percentage of the population as compared to the number of Chinese killed by Japanese troops. China condemns Japan when Japanese officials visit Yakusuni but China glorifies Mao Zedong and the PLA, the men who subjugated the Tibetans and the Uyghurs. Where is justice, fellow humans ?.

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