The China-Japanese war is not over?

Henry Blodget:
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China and Japan, you may recall, each claim ownership of these islands, which are little more than a handful of uninhabited rocks between Japan and Taiwan. Recently, the Japan-China tension around the islands has increased, and has led many analysts, including Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group, to worry aloud about the potential for a military conflict.

The Chinese professional at dinner last night did not seem so much worried about a military conflict as convinced that one was inevitable. And not because of any strategic value of the islands themselves (they’re worthless.) Because China and Japan increasingly hate each other.

The Chinese professional mentioned the islands in the context of the recent visit by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. The Yasukuni Shrine is a Shinto shrine where Japanese killed in Japan’s many military conflicts over the centuries are memorialised — including the Japanese leaders responsible for the attacks and atrocities Japan perpetrated in World War 2. A modern-day Japanese leader visiting the Yasukuni Shrine is highly controversial, because it is viewed by Japan’s former (and current) enemies as an act of honouring war criminals.

That’s certainly the way the Chinese professional at the dinner viewed it.

He used the words “honouring war criminals,” to describe Abe’s visit to the shrine. And, with contained but obvious anger, he declared this decision “crazy.”

He then explained that the general sense in China is that China and Japan have never really settled their World War 2 conflict. Japan and America settled their conflict, he explained, and as a result, the fighting stopped. But China and Japan have never really put the war behind them.

The Chinese professional acknowledged that if China asserted control over the disputed islands by attacking Japan, America would have to stand with Japan. And he acknowledged that China did not want to provoke America.

But then he said that many in China believe that China can accomplish its goals — smacking down Japan, demonstrating its military superiority in the region, and establishing full control over the symbolic islands — with a surgical invasion.

In other words, by sending troops onto the islands and planting the flag.

The Chinese professional suggested that this limited strike could be effected without provoking a broader conflict. The strike would have great symbolic value, demonstrating to China, Japan, and the rest of the world who was boss. But it would not be so egregious a move that it would force America and Japan to respond militarily and thus lead to a major war.

Well, when the Chinese professional finished speaking, there was stunned silence around the table.
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The rest of those at the event thought the idea was crazy and would lead to a wider war.  But it does give an idea of how some in China see events and could miscalculate the response to their aggression.

This piece in the Wall Street Journal also explains the dispute between China and the Philippines over some distance islands in the South China Sea.  It gets into the waves of claims under the Law of the Sea Treaty at the UN, but it is good background on the territorial dispute and how they can lead to conflictgs that drag tghe US into a war with China.

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