Mar del Sur (Continuación)

The Pakistani government early this month gave its nod to a proposal for Chinese government-owned China Overseas Port Holdings Ltd. to purchase control of Gwadar port from Singapore’s PSA International, which had won the contract in 2007 to operate the port for 40 years.

With this, operational control of the strategic deep-water Gwadar port will go to China. New Delhi’s reaction was as confused as ever with the Indian defense minister describing it as a matter of “serious concern” for India, but the external affairs minister suggested that India should not “overreact to everything that Pakistan does or everything that China is involved in.”

China has always been keen on gaining a strategic toehold in the Arabian Sea and Gwadar has been an attractive option.…  Seguir leyendo »

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this week condemned China’s «unnecessary escalation» of tensions between the two nations over disputed islets known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan.

He was referring to two incidents in January when Chinese frigates reportedly locked weapons radar onto a Japanese vessel and a helicopter, a claim China denies. Once fire-control radar is locked on, a missile can be fired at the designated target, generating obvious risks of miscalculation.

At best this is a militarized game of tag but one that could, at its worst, spark wider hostilities. When Japan indicated that its jets might fire tracer bullets to warn off Chinese aircraft, a Chinese general responded that Japan should refrain from doing so, as this would be taken as an act of war.…  Seguir leyendo »

There is increasing discussion in the international press of uneasy parallels — with some pointing to similarities and others highlighting major differences — between the developing situation in East Asia today and the Balkans tinderbox 100 years ago. Even former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has joined the debate (“A maritime Balkans of the 21st century?” Foreign Policy, Jan. 30). At the heart of the conversation is China’s parallel with a rising Germany a century ago.

Australia today is experiencing tensions between its historical origins, cultural roots and political antecedents in Europe, and its geographical location and trading interests in Asia.…  Seguir leyendo »

The tension in the East China Sea between China and Japan is America’s problem. Sure, there are all sorts of reasons war will “never” break out — from “it just wouldn’t make sense” to “everybody is making too much money to fight.” But given the history of the region and the lack of rules for handling such crises, the reality is that one stupid mistake could start a war. Since the United States is obligated by treaty to defend Japan if it is attacked, it falls to Washington to make sure a conflict does not erupt.

Over the past several months, Tokyo and Beijing have played a game of chicken, in the streets, on the seas, in the air and through the airwaves over a cluster of three uninhabited islands and two big rocks called the Senkakus by the Japanese and the Diaoyu Islands by the Chinese.…  Seguir leyendo »

Will 2013 be the year when one or more of the intractable disputes in the seas off China explode into armed conflict, involving the United States in a wider war to protect its Asian allies? The disputes are about ownership of islands, and jurisdiction over strategic maritime zones and valuable resources.

The answer should be a resounding “no.” Such a war, with no guarantees that it could be contained, would have unpredictable but potentially catastrophic consequences. The major protagonists in these disputes — the U.S., China and Japan — are respectively the world’s three largest economies, with a strong mutual interest in maintaining peace to boost their trade, growth, investment and jobs.…  Seguir leyendo »

In late January, the government of the Philippines served official notice that it plans to bring China before an arbitral tribunal over the latter’s persistent violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea — the multilateral treaty that serves as the touchstone for much of the world’s behavior on the high seas. The move garnered only limited media coverage, but it provides a telling snapshot of the struggle that is now under way for the shape of Asia.

The basis of Manila’s complaint, which was filed on Jan. 22, is straightforward. China and the Philippines are both signatories to the Law of the Sea treaty, which codifies internationally recognized parameters for the demarcation of territorial waters and exclusive economic zones.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las recientes tensiones entre China y Japón a propósito de los diferendos territoriales evidencian que los riesgos en Asia oriental no se limitan al contencioso norcoreano. Es verdad que las economías de ambos países están intensamente ligadas. De hecho, más de 23.000 empresas japonesas están implantadas en China, su primer mercado exportador. Pero un agravamiento de las tensiones, que a priori nadie desea, pudiera tener efectos muy dañinos. Por el momento, a pesar de repercusiones circunstanciales ya sea en la evolución del turismo o en la compra de vehículos, no es así. Incluso en el momento álgido de los reproches mutuos, las negociaciones para un Tratado de Libre Comercio (TLC) junto a Corea del Sur no se han detenido.…  Seguir leyendo »

When China ratified the United Nations law of the sea treaty in 1996, it was hailed as an important step toward stability and peaceful settlement of disputes in East Asia’s vast, valuable but conflict-riven offshore zone.

So the recent move by the Philippines to turn to the U.N. for a ruling on whether China’s sweeping claims to ownership and control over nearly all of the South China Sea in the maritime heart of Southeast Asia is in line with the 1982 treaty seemed like a perfectly law-abiding step.

But China’s Xinhua news agency said the Philippines’ referring the issue to a U.N.…  Seguir leyendo »

With most of the world’s attention focused on the realignment of the “Arab Spring,” Islamists and the latest Hamas-Israeli conflict, China continues its aggressive island imperialism in both the South China and East China seas with its illegal territorial claims. The confrontational incidents forced by China’s bullying tactics on our regional allies — most recently, Japan over the Senkaku Islands and the Philippines over Scarborough Shoal — are clearly unacceptable.

There are multiple territorial claims throughout the East China and South China seas. This is a strategic maritime area transited by more than half of the world’s total shipping trade. While there is a growing competition for the natural resources near the contested islands, these confrontations must be viewed in a broader context involving China’s ultimate objective: As part of its anti-access and area-denial strategy, China wants to replace the United States as the dominant power in the Western Pacific.…  Seguir leyendo »

Recientemente, diplomáticos chinos, surcoreanos y japoneses subieron al podio de la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas para reafirmar las posiciones de sus países sobre las cuestiones territoriales en torno a varias islas pequeñas de los mares del Asia oriental, pero la serenidad con la que formularon sus observaciones no reflejaba las tensiones existentes en relación con las islas, que han llegado casi al punto de ebullición en los últimos meses.

En el centro de una acalorada disputa entre China y el Japón se encuentran las islas Senkaku, que los chinos llaman islas Diaoyu. En septiembre, el Gobierno del Japón anunció su adquisición de tres de las islas a su propietario privado japonés, con lo que despertaron las protestas en toda China.…  Seguir leyendo »

El Japón ha salido en los noticieros últimamente por su disputa con China sobre seis kilómetros cuadrados de unos islotes áridos en el mar de la China Oriental que el Japón llama Senkaku y China islas Diaoyu. Esas reivindicaciones opuestas se remontan a finales del siglo XIX, pero el reciente estallido, que provocó generalizadas manifestaciones antijaponesas en China, comenzó en septiembre, cuando el Gobierno del Japón compró tres de esos diminutos islotes a su propietario privado japonés.

El Primer Ministro, Yoshihiko Noda, ha dicho que decidió comprar las islas para el Gobierno central del Japón con el fin de impedir que el gobernador de Tokio, Shintaro Ishihara, lo hiciera con fondos municipales.…  Seguir leyendo »

Raucous clashes triggered by the recent Sino-Japanese territorial dispute have made creative writing impossible for me. I’ve been devoting all my time to following the news, anxiously delving into every new development.

Again and again, I ask myself: What turns an interminable island dispute into a fireball? Who can put out the flames? Who can make politicians sit down to sip iced tea together and engage in calm and courteous dialogue? Where are the voices of reason?

I long for more rational voices, I long to hear from my fellow writers.

I was deeply touched after reading translations of the Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe’s views on the territorial issues and Haruki Murakami’s recent commentary warning of the damage caused by the outbursts of nationalism.…  Seguir leyendo »

Shigeru Yoshida, the suave, cigar-smoking former diplomat and one of Japan’s most prominent postwar prime ministers, has gained renewed popularity, thanks to a historical drama on national television and the talents of the actor Ken Watanabe.

In one scene, Yoshida points to the letters “GHQ” — the initials of the General Headquarters of the Allied Occupation of Japan — and renders them as “Go Home, Quickly.”’

Yet despite his desire to see the foreigners leave, Yoshida was able to work closely with Gen. Douglas MacArthur and a succession of former enemies. The “Yoshida Doctrine,” emphasizing economic growth and dependence on the United States for security, charted a realistic and ultimately successful course for his defeated and discredited nation.…  Seguir leyendo »

The recent visit to Beijing by the U.S. secretary of defense, Leon Panetta — which coincided with State Department statements that the U.S.-Japan security treaty would apply to the disputed Senkaku Islands — highlights the growing tension with China over America’s military presence in Asia, Chinese efforts to counteract it, and the dangerous misperceptions that can arise if defense strategy gets in the way of diplomacy.

The U.S. military strategy underpinning the Obama administration’s “pivot” to Asia is known in Pentagon circles as “Air-Sea Battle.” It depends upon the long-range capabilities of the U.S. Navy and Air Force to overcome the mines, submarines, anti-ship missiles and other advanced technology designed to keep the U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

No parecen gran cosa, unos pocos peñascos yermos en el mar de China Oriental, entre Okinawa y Taiwán, y un par de diminutos islotes en el mar de Japón en los que solo habitan unos pocos pescadores y algunos oficiales de la guardia costera surcoreana. El primer grupo de tierras, que en Japón llaman islas Senkaku y en China, islas Diaoyu, lo reclaman China, Japón y Taiwán; el segundo, Takeshima para los japoneses y Dokdo para los coreanos, está en litigio entre Corea del Sur y Japón. Aunque estos diminutos afloramientos rocosos tienen poco valor material, la disputa sobre su pertenencia ha provocado un serio enfrentamiento internacional, con retiradas de embajadores, masivas demostraciones antijaponesas en toda China (en las que se llegó a dañar a personas y propiedades japonesas) e intercambios de amenazas entre Tokio y Seúl.…  Seguir leyendo »

This month’s maritime standoff between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea isn’t the first time the region’s navies have gone toe-to-toe. But while past tensions revolved around resources under the ocean floor, this most recent event is part of a growing strategic rivalry pitting Chinese power against the United States and its East Asian allies. How Washington responds may determine the prospects for continued peace in the Pacific.

The latest crisis arose after the pocket-size Philippine Navy, with an old United States Coast Guard cutter as its new flagship, tried to apprehend Chinese fishermen it claimed were operating illegally near the Scarborough Shoal.…  Seguir leyendo »