Tension Eased as China Says 15 Government Ships Are for ‘Big Catch of Fish’Posted: August 11, 2016
In my post yesterday titled “Japan Panicked as 7 of 10 Chinese Government Ships Armed with Cannons”, I says based on HK radio that Japan regards the situation as very serious as it finds that 7 of the 10 Chinese government ships in the sea area near the disputed Diaoyu Islands (known as Senkakus in Japan) carry cannons. Japanese foreign minister directly contacted his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and asked Chinese ships to leave as soon as possible.
China’s official media Global Times says in its report today that Japan has lodged 23 protests over the past 5 days through various channels against Chinese government ships and fishing boats operating within 12 nautical miles of the disputed Diaoyu Islands.
The operation of 15, the largest number ever, government ships in disputed waters is obviously China’s retaliation at Japan’s interference with China’s disputes in the South China Sea. Japan is not a party to the disputes nor a South China Sea country, but it has been urging China to respect the Hague ruling on the dispute and even expressed “deep concern” over China’s rejection of Hague arbitration ruling in its annual defense review on August 2.
However, neither Japan nor China wants tension to deteriorate without limit. Japan elected Toshihiro Nikai, a pro-Beijing politician, as secretary general of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party because after all Japan has lots of investment and interests in China. China, on the other hand, wants to keep good economic relations with Japan.
As a measure to ease the tension, Chinese ambassador to Japan Chen Yonghua visited Nikai to congratulate him. SCMP says in its report titled “Why are Chinese vessels sailing off the Diaoyus? According to Beijing’s envoy, they’re after ‘big fish’” today that Nikai expressed his concerns to Chen about the operations of large number of Chinese government ships in disputed waters.
Chen was previously very tough and contended that the area is China’s territory waters, hinting that Chinese ships were there to claim China’s sovereignty. However, to Nikai who he regards as a friend, he said instead that the unprecedented large number of 15 Chinese government ships were there for a “big catch of fish”.
SCMP says that Nikai said he was told by Cheng Yonghua that “fish were markedly concentrated” in the area around the islets. As Chen told Nikai Beijing would address the situation “sincerely” and has agreed with Nikai on a plan to seek an amicable solution through dialogue, the crisis must have been over now.
However, there has been no sign that China is withdrawing its government ships and its fishing boats have remained there to conduct large-scale fishing.
This blogger has pointed out in his previous posts that the disputed islands are but useless rocks and what China care is the fish and energy resources around them. Now China is getting the benefits of having the disputed islands by exploiting the fish and energy resources there. Is there any need for China to take the disputed islands by force? Better maintaining the profitable status quo and let Japan has nominal administration of the disputed islands. What is the point to have military conflict with Japan for those worthless rocks?
Comments by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be viewed at: