Friday, September 27, 2013

HOW FAR WILL THE DRAGON SWIM? This in from Channel News Asia

Four China Coast Guard Ships In Disputed Waters: Japan

Disputed Senkaku /Diayous PD             Chinese Coast Guard vessel Photo by Japanese Coast Guard                                                                                                                              

"Chinese ships were in disputed waters on Friday, Japan's coastguard said, a week after Beijing said talks were possible if Tokyo was prepared to acknowledge the existence of a disagreement. The four Chinese coastguard vessels sailed into 12-nautical-mile territorial waters off one of the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islands -- which Beijing calls the Diaoyus -- at around 3:00pm (0600 GMT), the Japanese coastguard said.
It was the first such incident reported in eight days." 
EDITOR'S NOTE: Japan has owned the Senkaku since at least 1895. Prior to that time the islands were largely considered undiscovered though they are a short distance from both mainland China and the southern islands of Japan. few are larger than an acre and there is no fresh water so they have been uninhabited throughout history. China showed no interest in the islands which were administered by Japan from 1895 until 1950 when Japan was technically occupied by the United States. In the final "peace treaty" with Japan which also constituted a formal military defense treaty between the United States and Japan the United States formally recognized the Senkaku islands as the southern most territory of Japan. China, a `U.S. ally in WWII was absent from this treaty process because it was engaged in the Communist Revolution in 1950. China never really showed any interest in the islands until the 1960s when oil was first discovered in the vicinity. Because of our defense treaty with Japan, as written,  if China invades we are treaty bound to help repel them militarily. In no uncertain terms that means war , at least localized naval war, between the United States and China. This would be very disruptive for economies of all involved, but might actually present the United States with an unprecedented opportunity. No sensible nation expects a belligerent party nation to fund the war making of another nation fighting opposite in an armed conflict. Without damage to its international credit rating the United States could repudiate or suspend all debt payments to China. This would of course destroy China's economy and possibly cause the conflict to spread beyond China Sea naval engagements. But it is a real possibility.
 China on its part has de-escalated  just a bit by using coast guard forces to routinely violate Japan's sovereignty instead of their war ships. China claims it is "administering" its "territory". Under international law Japan's sovereignty over the islands is just about iron clad. China now says it is willing to "negotiate" if Japan will acknowledge that there is a dispute. Japan isn't about to do this because it would simply reward China for its aggression. But perhaps Japan should consider calling China's bluff by filing suit in the UN Sea Tribunal for a dispute of their own definition. Here its is.
 China has no claim to the surface or immediate adjacent (12 mile) waters of the Senkakus. However in such a situation where two nations are so physically close to a set of islands the usual 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) described in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is recognized as unworkable. Japan and China are almost at blows over the region, its time for binding arbitration over the local EEZ boundaries. China is establishing offshore rigs almost within site of Japanese territorial waters. These may be in what is ultimately decided to be Japan's EEZ or China's. Regardless, geological oil reservoirs  pay no attention to boundaries drawn on maps depicting the ocean's surface. It would be in the best interest of both Japan and China to engage in joint mineral licensing in a negotiated region around the islands. China says it will negotiate if Japan admits there is a dispute. There is a dispute not over surface rights to these rocks which in fact no one really cares about but relative to the mineral rights beneath the nearby seas. There is no way Japan can license mineral extraction leases, or China do the same without a high probability of pulling oil with out compensation from common formations. Negotiated joint mineral licensing will get the dispute off of square one, and get oil flowing to both oil starved nations. If China can't live with the judgement of history that the islands are Japan's, there will be war and it will be the ruin of many, but if it is any time soon it will be the total destruction of China. The Chinese Navy / Coast Guard team is not ready for a U.S. /Japan naval team which may be joined by several other major players. The U.S. economy would lose much in the down fall of China but also gain by lawfully leaving behind a lot of its debt. China simply will collapse. The dragon's trading partners will find new suppliers less interested in military adventure and China goes back to being a back water. If Japan calls China's bluff on negotiations and defines the case in terms of mineral rights, EEZ boundaries ,and offers joint mineral leasing arrangements as a partial cure and China engages constructively everybody wins by preservation of the status quo. The United States will eventually pay its debts out of the vast energy reserves that it has but can't fully exploit while Obama is in the White House. China's continuing rise is raising a lot of boats besides China's and Japan's economy is engaged with and interlocking with China's even as their Coast Guards fire water cannon at each other off the Senkakus. If everybody just starts to act like adults the New World Order" could continue to evolve peacefully, peacefully means the spread of prosperity. The U.S. would pay a heavy price in blood and steel if this escalates but in the end walks away the big winner, richer than ever, more powerful than ever, but more resented than ever with the seeds of some future WWIII already planted,  This is not the "New World Order" the United States had in mind. The United States has always been willing to let the New World Order evolve. We have no interest in expending any more of the blood of our youth. But in the end when thug states engage in thug tactics against our real friends and that certainly includes Japan and the Philippines we reluctantly , but great efficiency come in shooting. 
 The ball is totally in China's court. Japan has not set one foot outside of its internationally recognized territory. Either China continues to pursue its reckless course or not. The dragon holds the keys to peace and war, and to its own future. We hope they opt for peace and prosperity. Japan can help by acknowledging that there is indeed a dispute, but the one China claims. deal with the reality of close proximity EEZs and subterranean oil deposits that cross EEZ boundaries. 


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