From Sarajevo to the Senkakus
Disputed islands may be the spark that ignites a
by Eric Margolis: Will
There Be a US War on China?
On 30 January,
a Chinese Jiangwei II-class frigate entered the disputed waters
around the Senkaku Islands, a cluster of uninhabited rocks in the
East China Sea claimed by China as the Diaoyu Islands. A Japanese
destroyer was waiting.
When the two
warships were only 3 km apart, the Chinese frigate turned on its
fire-control radar that aims its 100mm gun and C-802 anti-ship missiles
and painted the Japanese vessel. The Japanese destroyer
went to battle stations and targeted its weapons on the Chinese
both sides backed down. But this was the most dangerous confrontation
to date over the disputed Senkakus. Japan and China were a button
push from war.
a Japanese naval helicopter was again painted by Chinese
fire-control radar. Earlier, Chinese aircraft made a clear intrusion
over waters claimed by Japan.
Peoples Liberation Army HQ ordered the armed forces onto high alert
and reportedly moved large numbers of warplanes and missile batteries
to the East China Sea coast.
A U.S. AWACS
radar aircraft went on station to monitor the Senkaku/Diaoyus
a reminder that under the 1951 U.S.-Japan mutual defense treaty,
Washington recognized the Senkaku Islands as part of Japan and pledged
to defend them if attacked. Japan seized the Senkakus as a prize
of its 1894-95 war with Imperial China.
state-run media claimed the U.S. was pushing Japan into a confrontation
with Beijing to keep China on the strategic defensive.
newly elected government led by conservative PM Shinzo Abe vowed
to face down with China. Spasms of angry nationalism erupted in
both feuding nations. The Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam, who
also claim the Senkakus, chimed in with their territorial demands.
special Chinese crisis group led by new President Xi Jinping has
been set up to deal with the Senkakus meaning any clash there
may be more likely to become a major crisis.
Shades of August,
1914, when swaggering, breast-beating, and a bloody incident triggered
World War I, a conflict few wanted but none could avoid.
Japan is in
a difficult situation over the Senkakus. Its nearest air bases are
in Okinawa, 500 km away; Japans main airbases are 1,000 km
further to the Northeast.
the rest of the article
him mail] is the author of War
at the Top of the World and the new book, American
Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the
West and the Muslim World. See his
© 2013 The
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