Thursday, January 3, 2013

Diaoyu Islands

The dispute between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, or what the Japanese refer to as the Senkaku Islands, seems a little absurd provided the amount of damage the political tension is doing to China and Japan’s economy.  
No one has really paid attention to these islands until it was discovered a few decades ago that there may be huge oil reserves under the sea near the islands. From that point on, the two sides' quarrel over the islands remained unabated. China, with its growing thirst for oil to feed its economy, and Japan, with its historical need to import oil, both laid claim to this once abandoned child. Taiwan, in the meantime has laid claim as well, but due to the juggernaut statures of these two economic powerhouses, its claim has mostly been ignored as squeals in the background.   

Currently, the islands are administered by Japan due to treaties formed after WW2 in which the United States played a key role in implementing.
As of late, the political climate between the two countries has intensified due to the Japanese government's decision to nationalize the islands.

We hear of news reports of how Japanese companies are scaling back their factory operations in China resulting in a setback to Japanese output as well as Chinese employment. Boycotts of Japanese goods in China and a drop of tourism to Japan from Chinese nationals have dealt a severe blow to the Japanese economy. China has also felt the effects as Japan, after all, is China’s third largest trading partner.

The scene of Chinese fishing boats crashing onto the shores of the islands followed by a Chinese fisherman storming out onto the shores and being chased by Japanese coast guards has been a common site in the nightly news.  The Chinese fisherman will be seen sticking a Chinese flag onto the island only to be instantly tackled by one Japanese guard with another pulling the flag out a few seconds after it had been stuck in. That scene reminds me of how enthusiastic Chinese violently crowd in Buddhist temples on Chinese New Year in order to be the first to stick their incense into the main alter, only to have their incense pulled out by temple staff shortly after it had been stuck in. For someone who is not religious like me, it seemed quite meaningless—not to mention quite hilarious.
Deng Xiao Ping, famous for his pragmatism, had a good suggestion to the Islands’ dispute. He told his counterparts in Japan to let future generations deal with it; their concerns should be at improving present relations.

Seeing that this generation is incapable of resolving the matter, I offer another solution—why not nuke the islands off the face of the earth?
The islands, in retrospect, are useless; it is not like you can build luxury resorts on the islands or build a Disneyland like on Lantau Island in Hong Kong. After all, it is the oil that both countries aspire for. The islands represent the oil; but if there were no islands, there would, in essence, be nothing concrete for each country to quarrel for. The oil is under the sea and will remain there until actual rigging begins.  

If each want to lay claim to the oil, then let each country’s ships sail aimlessly around the waters, waving their country’s flags. The Japanese do not need guards patrolling the island and the adventurous Chinese fishermen do not have a destination to sail to for them to stick their flags in.
It would be a test of wills, and after sailing in loops for a few months or years, perhaps both countries will realize the futility, and come to the table to discuss how to co-operatively excavate the oil from the sea instead.

Chinese fighting to plant their insence on Chinese New Year

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