Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Defuse dangerous tensions

By Jin Yongming (China Daily) Updated: 2013-11-22 07:20

Japan's provoking of China in its bid to get a full-fledged military is a dangerous gambit that could go too far

Since the Japanese government's illegal "purchase" of parts of China's Diaoyu Islands last September, relations between Japan and China have continued to sour, and tensions are high after a Japanese warship and military plane intruded into a naval exercise being conducted by China on the open sea of the West Pacific.

Defuse dangerous tensions

The intrusion is a dangerous provocation that might lead to immediate military confrontation. Every country is entitled to hold military drills on the open seas, and the ships and planes of other countries are advised to stay out of the exercise area. When holding naval exercises, the country concerned should consider other countries' navigational freedom and alert foreign vessels and planes and make sure they are well informed. However, the country retains the right to send up a flare or even eject the foreign vessels and planes if they refuse to leave the area.

Chinese authorities publicized the exercise areas via international maritime organizations in accordance with international custom. However, Japan's military vessel and reconnaissance aircraft remained in the zone for an undue length of time. And ignoring an alert from China, they monitored Chinese activities at close distance and seriously disrupted the naval drill. Japan's act is in severe violation of international law and practice.

For decades, Japan has been aspiring to become a "normal country", one that can regain clout not only with a revived economy but also with a full-fledged military. In the eyes of Japanese politicians, the need to gain the status of a normal country seems particularly urgent in the context of Washington's strategic rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific, the prolonged tensions over regional territorial disputes, and also the new arms race in Asia. Japan is counting on the US' wish for it to play a bigger role in the region as an ally. China's rapidly growing strength and its firm stance over the Diaoyu Islands is also being drummed up by Japan as an excuse to further boost its military capabilities.

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