When rocks become a matter of national security
The Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, including five uninhabited islands and three rocks, each smaller than 3.5 km² (Shaw 1999, 9), have caused diplomatic tensions between China and Japan for the last four decades. Most recently, an increase in Chinese vessels approaching the islands (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan 2015), currently under Japanese control, as well as an increase in intercepted chinese aircrafts in the area (Japanese MoD 2015) have raised concerns about an escalation of the conflict. The declaration of an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) by China has further caused the US to send B-52 bombers to fly through the zone (Danner 2014), a move accompanied by similar reactions from Japan and South Korea.
How did islands which China described as „economically and strategically insignificant“ in 1990 (Downs and Saunders 1999) and whose ownership was ignored by both sides until the 70s (Shaw 1999) become such a major issue in the relations between the two countries? Continue reading Competing for the Sea: Historical origins of the territorial dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands