Rome–(Updated with link to Philippines position) China has told Japan in no uncertain terms that the business of sea lanes and disputed Pacific territories is China’s and China’s alone.
The notification came in response to Japanese plans to intensify defense relations with The Philippines over China’s construction of air harbors and lighthouses atop South China Sea reefs. The reefs are claimed not only by Beijing and Manila but also Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia.
Japan is also considering joint sea patrols in the region with the United States Navy.
China has called these activities “abnormal” and accused Japan of having “maliciously created tensions in the South China Sea.” Moreover, because of Japan’s World War II history, it doesn’t have a say in East Asian affairs, China asserts. China’s Foreign Minister Wang YI has offered the similar prickly advice to the US about meddling in the seas of China’s coasts.
Beijing was outraged when the recently-concluded G-7 meeting in Germany backed Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over his maritime worries.
At stake are the sea lanes through which huge amounts of world trade pass. disputes not only include reefs and outcroppings but invisible maritime borders/ But there are other factors at work: by claiming hegemony over the seas in the western Pacific, China asserts a military big brother role over all Southeast Asia. Claiming control of the China Seas would enclose the commercial harbors of Taiwan, which China regards as merely a renegade province in the smothering embrace of China’s navy. To bring Taiwan to its knees, China need not invade. It needs only a blockade.
And for the first time since WWII, someone is challenging America’s dominance of the Western Pacific. There’s a new sheriff in town.
It’s a volatile mix of concerns and rivalries and the tensions are not going to be doused soon.
China criticizes G-7 for sympathizing with Japan’s concerns.
Xinhua calls Abe an “illiterate.”
Philippines rebukes China.
From Forbes, a brief history of the changes in US-Japan relationship that coincide with China’s rise.