20 September 2010

China Plays Diplomatic Hardball With Japan

China has raised the stakes in the current diplomatic skirmish over Japan's continued detention of the captain of a Chinese fishing boat.

Japan urged China to remain calm and not inflame their diplomatic spat further Monday after Beijing severed high-level contacts and then called off a visit by Japanese youth over the detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain near disputed islands.

China's actions pushed already-tense relations to a new low, and showed Beijing's willingness to play hardball with its Asian rival on issues of territorial integrity, which include sparring with Japan over natural gas fields in the East China Sea.

Late Sunday, Beijing said it was suspending ministerial and provincial-level contacts, halting talks on aviation issues and postponing meetings to discuss energy-related issues, including a second round of talks with Japan on the gas deposits.

On Monday, an official Chinese youth organization called off a visit by 1,000 young Japanese to Shanghai, piling more pressure on Japan to release the captain, who has been held for nearly two weeks after his ship collided with Japanese patrol boats in the East China Sea on Sept. 7.


This latest spat takes place against the background of more aggressive efforts by Beijing to pursue its claims on territory in the South China Sea and tap energy resources in the East China Sea.

In a possible sign of further turbulence ahead, Shikata, the Japanese spokesman, said the government was monitoring reports that China could be preparing to begin drilling in a disputed East China Sea gas deposit in violation of a 2008 agreement between the two nations.

"It would be unavoidable for us to consider taking a countermeasure if we confirm unilateral violations by the other party," Shikata said, without giving details on what measures are being considered.

By: Shelldrake

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