That sound you hear? That’s the postwar security arrangement straining as Japan and China continue their tit-for-tat game of escalation in East Asia.Just as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was sent an offering to the Yasukuni Shrine that so reliably infuriates China and South Korea, a court in China ordered the seizure of a Japanese ship in connection with a 1936 debt. Japanese officials quickly slammed the move, but the Chinese were adamant that nothing out of the ordinary was afoot:
The spat over the ship was a “regular business contract dispute”, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said, adding that the government would safeguard the rights of foreign investors.“This case has nothing to do with compensation from the Chinese-Japanese war (World War Two),” Qin told a regular news briefing.“Nothing has changed in the Chinese government’s position on adhering to, and defending every principle in, the Sino-Japanese Joint Statement,” he added, referring to an announcement in 1972 that the two countries were establishing official ties.
Nevertheless, as Shen Dingli, an expert in Northeast Asian geopolitics at Fudan University told the Financial Times, “In the past [the Chinese authorities] might have discouraged suits like this but now they don’t stand in the way.”President Obama lands in Japan on Wednesday for a three-day visit, part of a longer trip across Asia which will see him also visit South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Nice of the Chinese to heat up the region for him ahead of his arrival.