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Big Chill Between China and Japan Gets Frostier

China has detained an expert on Sino-Japanese relations, Zhu Jianrong, a professor at a Japanese university near Tokyo, on what could turn out to be allegations of espionage. The move has worried expatriate academics in both China and Japan, as well as ratcheting up Sino-Japanese tensions at an already difficult time. The New York Times:

The Japan Times recently reported his detention in an editorial on Sept. 29, without citing a source. A group that Mr. Zhu helped found, the Society of Chinese Professors in Japan, said Monday that it was almost certain Mr. Zhu was being held and was “currently responding to questioning.”

The society described him as “very active” in his role as “a bridge between China and Japan.” He was chairman of the group for nine years, and often appeared on Japanese television discussing the soured relations between the two countries.

There were some suggestions that Mr. Zhu met with Chinese military officials this year in connection with his research, and that the Chinese authorities were suspicious of his subsequent use of the information.

The Japan Times editorial said that China was looking into the meetings and whether they constituted an illegal collection of information.

Though he married a Japanese researcher in the 1980s, Zhu was known for appearing on Japanese television to staunchly defend China’s territorial claims to the contentious Senkaku Islands. Another Chinese academic was imprisoned in 2009 for 14 years for allegedly selling state secrets to Japan and South Korea.

This is all a backdrop to the APEC summit taking place in Indonesia starting this weekend. Though President Xi and Prime Minister Abe notably shook hands on the sidelines of this year’s G20 summit, there are currently no plans for any kind of meeting in Bali.

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  • lukelea

    I can’t see China going to war with Japan over those islands but I can see it using the dispute as an excuse for an enormous naval buildup. Would keep the economy humming, earn respect abroad — a twofer. Would also deflect unrest at home, so make it a threefer.

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