News / Asia

China-Japan Dispute Tests China’s Ties With the US

Paramilitary police officers arrange the steel fence at the Japanese Consulate General in Shanghai, September 19, 2012.
Paramilitary police officers arrange the steel fence at the Japanese Consulate General in Shanghai, September 19, 2012.
VOA News
China's territorial dispute with Japan over a group of islands in the East China Sea is also testing the country's relations with the U.S.   

While both the American and the Chinese governments are taking steps to avoid escalating tensions between Asia's two biggest economies, there were signs this week that Washington’s alliance with Japan and its intentions in the region remain a source of friction.

During a visit to China this week, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged China and Japan to exercise restraint and repeated Washington's insistence that it does not take sides in the dispute.  But an article in China's state-run Global Times said it is "obvious" that Washington is partial to Japan.

Shi Yinhong, professor of international relations at Beijing’s Renmin University says that China is suspicious of Japan’s military alliance with the United States, guaranteed by the Japan-U.S. security treaty of 1951.  The pact assures that Japan gets U.S. assistance should China take military action against its neighbor.

“The Chinese government views the U.S. as encouraging illegal actions by Japan. The government is dissatisfied with this, and the Chinese population is even more dissatisfied,” Shi says.

Anti-Japanese rallies started in China after Japan announced it would nationalize three disputed islands in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
 
Some slogans during the most recent marches criticized the United States, blamed by people for having included the disputed islets into its security treaty with Japan.  

On Tuesday, the U.S. ambassador’s car was surrounded in Beijing by a small group of protesters who had wandered away from the nearby Japanese embassy, focal point of the recent demonstrations. Protesters pelted the car with small objects before Chinese police intervened and the car was able to make its way inside the diplomatic compound.

“I believe that this event will push the Chinese government to be more serious and more insistent to ensure that anti-Japanese protests are conducted in accordance with the law,” Shi Yinhong says.

Renown artist and Chinese government critic Ai Weiwei, who posted a video showing ambassador Gary Locke’s car becoming target of the protesters, told the French News agency that he believes central authorities were encouraging mass rallies.

Although extreme anger against Japan was palpable at the marches and some slogans included calls for brutal retaliation measures against China’s long time rival, most of the protests were peaceful. Reports of violence against Japanese individuals and businesses in some Chinese cities including Shenzhen and Guangzhou prompted the Chinese Foreign Ministry to say that criminal episodes would be investigated according to the law.

David Zweig, professor of social science at Hong Kong’s University of Science and Technology, says that Beijing certainly wished the demonstrations did not turn violent, but was in careful in how it phrased its warning.

“They did not publicly condemn the use of violence because that might make them look like they don’t support the marches or the protests,” Zweig says. “It’s a way of warning people, without antagonizing them,” he adds.

With no more protests reported since Tuesday and after a three-day visit by the American defense secretary, Zweig believes that China and the U.S. now have some breathing space to move forward in their overall relations.

“They decided to have joint exercises, which is a significant move forward,” he says.

Yet next month both countries face an uncertain political phase, with an election in the United States and China’s Party Congress expected to nominate the country’s next rulers.

Shi Yinhong says that this might complicate the two country’s traditional rivalries, which he thinks have gotten worse in the last few years and during the recent crisis with Japan.

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs