China’s Evolving “Core Interests”

China + JapanWhenever China wants to identify the issues considered important enough to go to war over, it uses the term “core interests”. The phrase was once restricted to Taiwan, the island nation China has threatened to forcibly unify with mainland. About 5 years ago, Chinese leaders expanded the term to include Tibet and Xinjiang, two provinces with indigenous autonomy movements that Beijing has worked feverishly to control. Since then, the Chinese officials have spoken more broadly about economic growth, a territorial integrity and preserving Communist system. But recently they narrowed their sights again, extending the term explicitly to the East China Sea, where Beijing and Tokyo are dangerously squabbling over some uninhabited islands. Top Chinese military officials first delivered the message to Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when he visited Beijing last month. The next day, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, told reporters that “the Diaoyu Islands are about sovereignty+territorial integrity. Of course it’s China’s core interest.” This wording, with its threatening implications, is raising new tensions in a region already on edge over North Korea and several other maritime disputes, and it will make it harder to peacefully resolve the dispute over islands, called Diaoyu in China, and Senkaku in Japan. While Japan has held the islands for more than a century, China also claims title and has sent armed ships and planes from civilian maritime agencies to assert a presence around them. The waters adjacent to the islands are believed to hold oil and gas deposits. To some extent, China is simply throwing its weight around, challenging United States and its regional allies. On Wednesday and Thursday, Chinese state-run newspapers carried commentaries questioning Japan’s sovereignty over island of Okinawa, where about 25.000 American troops are based. Japan, whose wartime aggression against China and other countries still engenders animosity, has not helped. Last September, the government of the Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda provocatively bought three of the islands from their private owner. The right-wing nationalists who took power in December may be equally unwilling to put Japan’s past behind it, although the government of new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, took a positive step on Tuesday when it said it would abide by official apologies that the country made two decades ago to victims of World War II. China and Japan have strong economic ties and are critical to regional stability. Both will lose if they stumble into war or otherwise cannot resolve this escalating dispute. Though efforts are under way to find a mutually face-saving solution, using loaded phrases like “core interests” to describe the islands only adds to political and emotional sensitivities and will not advance that goal. (source: THE EDITORIAL BOARD – NYTimes – 12/05/2013)

Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

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