By John Glasser
With the rise of China as Asia’s leading economic power, a Chinese government think tank says the nation’s conflict with Japan over the Senkaku Islands is inevitable at a time when its bilateral relations are changing as a consequence.
The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) also said in its annual report that the two countries’ relationship will enter into a highly unstable period.
While thinking that the conflict over the islands could be prolonged, China is now paying attention to what action the new Japanese government, headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, will take.
The “report on the development of the Asia-Pacific region” points out that China’s rapid development is raising anxieties in surrounding nations, forcing them into taking precautions and requiring them to accept the “readjustment” of the power balance.
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.
Aggressive US meddling in the region has long been predicted to have ugly consequences, like bolstering hard-line nationalistic politicians on all sides. “Signs of a potential harsh reaction are already detectable,” a recent CSIS report said. “The US 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.”