International ties

Japan's miscalculation will be dangerous

By Wang Hui (
Updated: 2010-09-21 11:46
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Japan's illegal detention of a Chinese ship captain is becoming a major predicament in bilateral relations between Beijing and Tokyo.

Japan's decision on Sunday to extend the detention of the Chinese captain to Sept 29 was a reckless move and will further intensify the tension between the two neighbors.

Tokyo should be prepared for any consequences for turning a deaf ear to Beijing's repeated protests and opposition. Tokyo should be held fully responsible for worsening bilateral ties if it does not back off from its current hard-line stance.

On Sunday evening, Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Wang Guangya summoned Japanese Ambassador to China Uichiro Niwa again to lodge China's solemn representation and express strong indignation and protest against Japan's prolonged detention of the Chinese captain.

Wang warned China will take strong countermeasures if the Japanese side fails to release the Chinese captain immediately and unconditionally. The strong wording, rare in China's diplomatic lexicon, shows that the situation has become increasingly intolerable.

The Chinese captain, Zhan Qixiong, was arrested on the so-called suspicion of "obstructing public duties" after his fishing ship collided with Japanese patrol boats before being illegally intercepted off the Diaoyu Islands in East China Sea on Sept 7.

Japan's allegation does not hold water as the Diaoyu Islands have been Chinese territory since ancient times. There is no justification for Japan to impose its domestic laws on the Chinese national.

China has insisted that Japan releases Zhan immediately and unconditionally. But Japan has repeatedly ignored China's rightful demand. As a result, the incident created by the Japanese side has severely damaged China-Japan relations.

The diplomatic tension between the two sides has escalated with each passing day. The Chinese public has also reacted strongly to the incident. Chinese people's indignation has risen to such an extent that the government has again expressed its hope that they express their ideas rationally and legally.

On Saturday, hundreds of Chinese gathered outside Japanese diplomatic residences across the country to protest Japan's seizure of the captain as sirens wailed to mark the 79th anniversary of Japan's invasion of China.

In the latest series of moves to protest the incident, China suspended bilateral exchanges at and above the provincial or ministerial levels and halted contact with Japan on the issues of increasing civil flights and expanding aviation rights between the two countries. The number of Chinese tourists to Japan has also declined.

Some Chinese media and experts have begun to make recommendations to the government on what countermeasures it can take. As the two countries have growing trade ties and co-operation in a wide range of fields, China has a lot of choices if it decides to respond.

To prevent the situation from becoming unmanageable, the only wise move for Japan to make is to return the Chinese captain unconditionally and immediately. Any miscalculation will be dangerous. China, like any country in the world, is determined to defend its territorial integrity.