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Japan, Taiwan Leave China out of Senkakus Deal

Japan and Taiwan have gone behind China’s back and agreed to a deal to allow Taiwanese fishing boats to work within 12 miles of the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, the Japanese-administered islands also claimed by China and Taiwan.

Taiwan’s approach to the islands dispute has been much more peaceful than China’s (although Taipei did recently launch two new coast guard vessels with the specific aim of defending its territorial claim). “We are not interested in the issue of sovereignty over the islands. We just want to fish,” said Chen Chun-sheng, a leader of a Taiwanese fishermen’s association, earlier this month.

The deal between Tokyo and Taipei seems to have taken China by surprise. Until now, as the Times of India reports, Beijing had been getting positive signals from Taipei and expected it to continue to dispute Japan’s ownership of the islands, as China does. Groups of Taiwanese activists have even made it to the islands several times in the past to protest Japan’s claim.

Yet there was little Beijing could do to prevent this situation. Taiwan now has permission from Japan to fish in and around the Senkakus, and China does not. “We are extremely concerned about Japan and Taiwan discussing and signing a fishing agreement,” said Hong Lei, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman.

Once again, China’s aggressive posture has served only to push its neighbors closer together. Japan and Taiwan, Japan and Burma, India and Burma, the Philippines, the US…the list goes on. China’s rivals grow friendlier by the day, partly because of their shared wariness toward Beijing.

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