Conflict in East Asia, specifically between China and Japan, continues to escalate. A major focus of the conflict seems to be territorial disputes over a small chain of island, called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese. Japan bought the the privately held islands not long ago, nationalizing them, though they have been under Japanese control since 1895. China views these islands as belonging to them and that Japan stole them. In fact, China has included the airspace above the islands in their Air Defense Identification Zone, which requires all aircraft to enter flight plans and radio information.
The dispute has continued to escalate, along with a war of words between the both nations (including op-ed columns in the British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, by a Chinese and Japanese ambassador). Both China and Japan have expanded their naval fleets, with such additions as new aircraft carriers. Taiwan has also added to its arsenal with purchases of sub-launched harpoons, in an effort to bolster defenses against a possible attack by the Chinese.
Parallels can be drawn between today’s East Asia and yesterday’s Europe. A hundred years ago, Europe was at the height of its power and wealth. European countries were continually attempting to expand their economies, as well as political strength and influence. Territorial tensions between France and Germany throughout the early twentieth century is similar to current disputes between China and Japan. The high competition for economic and political superiority are also comparable.
The source of much of the conflict stems from nationalistic ideals. China has not forgotten (nor will it led the world forget) the atrocities committed by Japan during World War II, and has voiced its concern that current Japanese policies may be steering the country towards a path of militarism akin to policies undertaken in the early twentieth century.
An ongoing concern is the potential consequences this current conflict will have, not only on East Asian countries, but also the global community. Should armed conflict break out, European countries and the United States will surely be drawn in. America has viewed China as an economic competitor, even a threat, for the past decade. Europe as well has had its share of tensions with the Chinese.
The current issues between China and Japan must come to a peaceful resolution. Nationalistic sentiments and pride must be put aside as they have no place for countries participating in a global community. With the current course of things, a small incident between China and Japan could unleash a potential global conflict. Much like it did a century ago.