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CHINA AND JAPAN IN STARE DOWN: JAPAN BLINKS PDF Print E-mail

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Pawn in larger chess game?
On September 19th Japan extended the detention of Zhan Qixion, captain of a Chinese trawler whose vessel rammed into Japanese coast-guard patrol boats off of China's Diaoyu Islands on Sept 7.  China claims that Qixion was being held "illegally".   Japan accused the captain of "obstructing public officers" when they tried to detain him and the incident has led to tensions between the two countries.  China's foreign ministry spokesman issued the following statement on September 20th:

China demands that Japan immediately release the captain without any preconditions . . . If Japan clings obstinately to its own course and insists on making one mistake after another, China will take strong countermeasures and all the consequences should be born by the Japanese side.

The Diaoyou Islands are a group of disputed and uninhabited islands controlled by Japan since 1895 but also claimed by the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the People's Republic of China (China).  The U.S. controlled the islands as part of its occupation of Okinawa from 1945 - 1972.  Japan's decision to detain Qixion was a de facto claim of sovereignty over the Diaoyou Islands.  However, since Japan's economy is largely dependent upon China, Japanese officials released the captain on Saturday September 25th.  Japan also made overtures to the U.S. about strengthening ties between the two countries.  Whether the recent dispute will set precedence for how China deals with other countries in the region remains to be seen.
 

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