Last Friday China conducted a naval exercise in the East China Sea. It was a show of force aimed at Japan over the disputed (but for more than a century Japanese-controlled) Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. In yet another fiery op-ed, China’s Global Times argues that Japan “must adapt to China’s navy moves” and promises there’s more to come:
This time the drill involved the navy. Next time it may well expand to missile forces in a bid to increase the level of deterrence and the range. . . .[T]he Chinese people have increasingly begun to think that some countries have been underestimating the consequences of angering China, and China needs to teach them a lesson. This growing public sentiment may pressure the government to change its diplomatic policies.Japan has to realize the fact that it has always been a small country compared to China, and in the future it will still only be another Vietnam or Philippines. It is better for Japan to show some respect, or it is asking for trouble.
As we’ve pointed out, Japan would do well to tone down its belligerent language in a tough neighborhood. But China is arguably in an even more difficult position. It lacks the broad U.S. alliance umbrella that Japan enjoys. China also has to deal with an increasingly restive, nationalist population.The Chinese leadership does not want war; this op-ed is likely aimed at appeasing the nationalistic sentiments of its mass readership. But it’s a fine and dangerous line to walk in such tense times.