China and its Discontents

Finally Some Straight Talk from the Global Times


The Global Times published an op-ed yesterday that “offered support” for the actions of Chinese activists landing on the Diaoyu Islands, but to my relief stated clearly that “Chinese need to be clear that China cannot retrieve the Islands now. This would mean a large-scale war, which is not in China’s interests,” and that declining to send PLAN ships to escort activists to the Diaoyu Islands does not indicate China’s weakness.

This rhetoric stands in sharp contrast to the overly nationalistic op-ed published a month ago (that I also commented on around the same time), which called on China to challenge Japan’s sovereignty over Okinawa as a psychological ploy to capture the Diaoyu Islands. It is encouraging that Chinese state media is explicitly acknowledging that going to war (of whatever magnitude) over a few piddling pieces of rock is not in their national interests.

I can only hope that they will extend this message to also include the various islands and shoals in the South China Sea. Certainly the strategic calculus is mostly the same–conflict with either Japan or any of the states surrounding the South China Sea would not only severely disrupt trade and shipping, but would also inevitably involve the United States.

Written by Will

August 17th, 2012 at 6:54 am