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Game of Chicken
Beijing Challenges U.S. and Japan in the East China Sea

While Beijing goes toe-to-toe with the United States in the South China Sea, there is already plenty of geopolitical drama in Asia to make it a major source of anxiety. But now the East China Sea is heating up too, with the U.S. saying a Chinese fighter conducted an “unsafe” intercept of an American plane earlier this week. Reuters:

“One of the intercepting Chinese jets had an unsafe excessive rate of closure on the RC-135 aircraft. Initial assessment is that this seems to be a case of improper airmanship, as no other provocative or unsafe maneuvers occurred,” Pacific Command said. It did not say how close the Chinese fighter came to the U.S. plane.

“The Department of Defense is addressing the issue with China in appropriate diplomatic and military channels,” the statement said.

The close approach sounds a lot like a similar interaction over the Spratly islands last month. China accused the U.S. of “deliberately hyping” the East China Sea incident but it’s pretty clear these days which side is escalating tensions. On Wednesday, Beijing sailed a frigate through disputed territory, the Associated Press reported:

Japanese officials said a Chinese navy frigate was seen off the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands, also claimed by China, which calls them the Diaoyu islands. The ship did not violate Japan’s territorial waters, and has since left the area.

While Chinese coast guard vessels routinely patrol the area, it was the first time a Chinese warship was spotted, officials said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki summoned Chinese Ambassador Cheng Yonghua to the ministry to deliver the protest.

Despite Japan and now the United States talking tough and acting tougher than ever, Beijing isn’t backing down at all. Abe isn’t going to blink. Will the United States?

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  • WigWag

    It’s long past time for Japan and South Korea to each develop their own nuclear deterrent. At the very least, if we are going to spend billions to protect them from the Chinese, we should exact some form of tribute from these ungrateful allies. Instead, with every American job they steal they think they are entitled to more and more protection. This can’t go on forever. Eventually something has to give.

    • Frank Natoli

      If America wants the Japanese and/or the South Koreans to possess nuclear weapons, then why not sell them some of ours? The fundamental “trick” of developing a nuclear weapon is infrastructure to extract fissile, bomb-grade U-235 from conventional uranium ore [what Obama-Kerry-Democrat-voters gave Iranians the green light to do] or to construct a breeder to convert natural U-238 to fissile, bomb-grade Pu-239. If we sell them the bombs, they are nuclear capable, but they don’t build that infrastructure. Isn’t that “better”?

      • WigWag

        I’m not sure whether its better or not. Both Japan and South Korea could develop a bomb in a heartbeat.

        Donald Trump believes that Japan and South Korea should develop their own nuclear arsenals. Hillary Clinton and practically all of our bipartisan foreign policy elite believe that Japan and South Korea should continue to shelter under the American nuclear umbrella. People of good will can disagree about this. What’s unfortunate is that the American Interest would rather run one hit piece after the next against Trump and one boring essay after the next about Putin, but never, ever provides an interesting essay about this very important topic.

      • christophergreen

        Transferring control of nuclear weapons to other nations or assisting other nations in their production is prohibited by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

        • Frank Natoli

          My suggestion would result in Japan and South Korea possessing nuclear weapons but without the infrastructure to build more bombs thus limiting the number of bombs.
          Compliance, as you indicate, with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, would likely result in Japan and South Korea building the infrastructure and manufacturing any number of nuclear weapons.
          The Treaty has failed to halt proliferation, particularly among the most dangerous of nations.
          In at least one case, Democrat voters have empowered a Democrat president to give a most dangerous of nations the green light to continue to extract fissile, bomb-grade U-235.
          I suggest the time has come to withdraw from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

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