Taiwan recently entered a mounting dispute over islands in the East China Sea by sending dozens of fishing boats to the region. Analysts fear these tiny, uninhabited islands could become the flashpoint for a full-fledged international conflict.
The islands at the center of the dispute are a small archipelago off the coast of Taiwan, claimed by China, Japan, and Taiwan itself. They are dubbed the Senkaku in Japan, the Diaoyu in China and the Tiaoyutai in Taiwan. Japan annexed the islands from China in 1895 and has controlled them ever since, except when the country was administered by the US from 1945 to 1972. The waters surrounding the islands are rich fishing grounds, and a 1968 geological survey discovered possible oil and gas reserves in the area.
Tokyo announced on September 5 that it was purchasing the islands from their Japanese private owner, and a whirlwind of violent protest ensued across China.
Amid the mounting tensions, Beijing announced on Monday plans to deploy unmanned drones to conduct marine surveillance of the area surrounding the disputed islands by 2015. Three Chinese patrol vessels remain in the seas near the uninhabited archipelago, and have briefly entered waters which Tokyo considers Japanese territory.
Taiwan then entered the dispute on Monday when it sent a flotilla of 40 fishing boats to the islands in a bid to reassert the country’s fishing rights in the region. The Japanese Coast Guard used water cannons to disperse the vessels.
Dr. Joseph Gerson, an expert in Asia-Pacific affairs and the Programs Director at the American Friends Service Committee, argued that these seemingly innocuous islands actually possess a surprising strategic value. Continue Reading: Treasure islands? Japan-China dispute sparks fears of war as US, Taiwan weigh in — RT
Map locating the disputed South China Sea island of Senkaku/Diaoyu. (Reuters)
11.09, 21:2147 comments
Two Chinese patrol ships have been dispatched to a group of disputed islands following Tokyo’s announcement that it would purchase the isles from private owners. Beijing has vowed “reciprocal measures” should the situation escalate.