Tensions heat up in the East China Sea between China and Japan


Image Source: Wikipedia

Tuesday, Japan accused China of directing radar capable of aiding weapon strikes at a Japanese naval vessel and helicopter. The Japanese were near disputed islands located in the East China Sea. In China the islands are called Diaoyu and in Japan the islands are called Senkaku.

This is not the first time, in recent history, that tensions have flared over the islands. On Tuesday, Japan’s Ministry of Defense announced that a Chinese military vessel used its targeting radar on a Japanese naval destroyer near the island on January 30, 2013. The significance of this radar is that it can precede an attack, Itsunori Onodera, the Japanese Defense Minister said that this “could have pushed things into a dangerous situation.”

China did not respond immediately, however, yesterday, China’s Defense Ministry Website said that its naval vessels’ radar had “maintained normal observational alertness.” China went on to say that Japan was “deliberately creating a tense atmosphere and misleading international opinion.”

Despite the escalated tensions, Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu, said, “I think it’s a positive development that the Chinese would deny doing this, as opposed to saying, ‘Yes we did it, and we’ll do it again.’ ” He went on to say, “[f]or the Chinese to not want to be portrayed as an aggressor, I think, is a good sign.” For example, in early January, when Chinese ships entered Japanese-controlled waters near the islands for 13 hours, the Chinese ambassador responded that the islands belong to China and that the Japanese ships had no right to be there.

With the trading relations that America has with Japan and China and the amount of American debt that China owns what implications could a war between these two nations mean for us?


Source: New York Times

One comment

  1. In 1960, the United States signed a treaty with Japan called the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan. A plain reading of Article 5 of this Treaty shows that the United States is not legally bounded to take military action if there is a conflict between China and Japan. (http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Mutual_Cooperation_and_Security_between_Japan_and_the_United_States_of_America). The only legally binding action that the United States would have to do is inform the Security Council of the UN in accordance with the provisions of Article 51. (Id.). There are three important factors in my opinion to consider when deciding if a conflict with China is even possible. 1) military capability of China, 2) military capability of Japan, 3) economic status of China and the United States in terms of debt. Mr. Tortora questioned if the 3rd issue, the amount of debt the United States owes to China, is of significance. For that issue I would say that while there is a tremendous amount of debt owed to China, it is a reciprocal relationship where both countries are dependent upon each other. China could dump the Treasury bonds it holds and send the interest rate that the U.S. would have to sell future bonds at to sky high rates, but that would also mean that the ability to control the inflation of the Chinese currency would also be severely affected, leading to the economic downturn of both countries. (http://www.businessinsider.com/why-japan-and-china-buy-us-debt-2012-9). The other two issues deal with the military capabilities of both nations. Japan is weak militarily having no air craft carriers, but Japan does have Marine Corps bases in Okinawa with over 10,000 combat ready U.S. Marines fully equipped to deploy anywhere in the Pacific. China has a large military force but only one aircraft carrier. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_aircraft_carriers_by_country#China). There is little use for a large invading Chinese army if you can’t transport them anywhere.

    In conclusion then, an all out war between China and Japan would have very little long term effect on us. Neither country would be able to fight on a large scale because there would be no way to transport the troops to the actual fight and the economic advantages are extremely limited considering the negative economic effects global sanctions could have on either country to motivate them to continue to fight. It would be a short war and have short term economic consequences for us because the international community would step in and quell the conflict. On the other hand, wars do stimulate economies so I would say at the very least we’d see a bump in our economy.

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