Posts tagged ‘Aksai Chin’

04/09/2016

China says should constructively handle disputes with India | Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday that the two countries should respect each other’s concerns and constructively handle their differences.

The two nuclear-armed neighbours have been moving to gradually ease long-existing tensions between them.

Leaders of Asia’s two giants pledged last year to cool a festering border dispute, which dates back to a brief border war in 1962, though the disagreement remains unresolved.

Meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, Xi said relations had maintained a steady, healthy momentum, and should continue to increase mutual understanding and trust.

“We ought to respect and give consideration to each other’s concerns, and use constructive methods to appropriately handle questions on which there are disputes,” Xi said, in comments carried by China’s Foreign Ministry.

“China is willing to work hard with India the maintain the hard-won good position of Sino-India relations,” Xi added.

China’s Defence Ministry said last month that it hoped India could put more efforts into regional peace and stability rather than the opposite, in response to Indian plans to put advanced cruise missiles along the disputed border with China.

Indian military officials say the plan is to equip regiments deployed on the China border with the BrahMos missile, made by an Indo-Russian joint venture, as part of ongoing efforts to build up military and civilian infrastructure capabilities there.

China lays claim to more than 90,000 sq km (35,000 sq miles) ruled by New Delhi in the eastern sector of the Himalayas. India says China occupies 38,000 sq km (14,600 sq miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west.

India is also suspicious of China’s support for its arch-rival, Pakistan.Modi arrived in China from Vietnam, which is involved in its own dispute with China over the South China Sea, where he offered Vietnam a credit line of half a billion dollars for defence cooperation.Modi’s government has ordered BrahMos Aerospace, which produces the BrahMos missiles, to accelerate sales to a list of five countries topped by Vietnam, according to a government note viewed by Reuters and previously unreported.

Source: China says should constructively handle disputes with India | Reuters

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12/05/2015

Optics as well as substance important as India’s Modi visits China | Reuters

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in the ancient city of Xian on Thursday at the start of a visit to China, he will be met by Chinese President Xi Jinping, in an unusual departure from normal protocol.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands during a photo opportunity ahead of their meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi September 18, 2014. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Top Chinese leaders almost never travel outside Beijing to meet senior foreign guests on bilateral visits, and Xi’s appearance in Xian, located in Xi’s home province of Shaanxi, underscores China’s determination to set aside past rancor between the world’s two most populous nations, experts said.

“It definitely indicates the significance our president puts on Mr. Modi’s visit,” said Li Li, an India expert at the government-backed China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

“From the Chinese side, we were very impressed by the hospitality extended by Mr. Modi during Xi Jinping’s visit to India,” he added, referring to Modi greeting Xi in his home state of Gujarat when Xi visited India last year.

Modi will visit a Xian pagoda connected to Xuanzang, also known as Tripitaka, the monk who bought the Buddhist sutras to China from India thousands of years ago, according to people briefed on the trip.

“It is sending a very important message,” Li said of Xi’s going to Xian to greet Modi, a place closely connected to the deep historical links between China and India.

Still, the list of problems both countries face are considerable, ranging from a festering border dispute to China’s support for India’s arch-rival Pakistan.

Mistrust runs deep, something Xi will be keenly aware of despite the bonhomie and billions of dollars in deals likely to be signed.

Modi’s new account on Chinese social media site Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, was filled with messages soon after launching this month asking him to return what China calls South Tibet, otherwise known as the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

“This is the great, great pressure the Chinese government is facing,” said Mao Siwei, a former senior Chinese diplomat who was based in India and Pakistan, talking about the need to manage Chinese public concern about the disputed area.

China claims more than 90,000 sq km (35,000 sq miles) disputed by New Delhi in the eastern sector of the Himalayas.

India says China occupies 38,000 square km (14,600 sq miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west.

In September, the two armies faced off in the Ladakh sector in the western Himalayas just as Xi was visiting India for the first summit talks with Modi. This time, the border has been quiet ahead of Modi’s arrival.

While chances of a breakthrough on the border look distant, the exchange of visits by Modi and Xi so soon after both took office is a positive sign, said Ram Madhav, a senior leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a hardline Hindu nationalist organization that has close ties to Modi’s BJP.

“There is an earnest eagerness to connect with the Indian leadership,” Madhav told a forum in Beijing.

“Prime Minister Modi has chosen to come in his first year (of office) to China. It shows that the leaders on both sides are seriously attempting to … bridge the most important challenge between the two countries – the trust deficit.”

via Optics as well as substance important as India’s Modi visits China | Reuters.

24/03/2015

China says it agrees with India to maintain border peace | Reuters

China and India have agreed to maintain peace and tranquillity along their Himalayan border while they work on resolving a long-festering boundary dispute, China’s foreign ministry said after talks in New Delhi.

China's State Councilor Yang Jiechi (L) and India's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval shake hands during a photo opportunity before their meeting in New Delhi March 23, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

The talks are aimed at fixing a dispute over the border that divides Asia’s largest nations, part of a push to make progress on the festering row before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits China.

China’s foreign ministry said in a statement released on Monday both countries would build on the results of previous negotiations and push forward in “the correct direction”.

“Both sides reiterated the appropriate management and control of the dispute and joint maintenance of the peace and tranquillity of the border region before the border issue is resolved,” the ministry said.

As major neighbours and developing countries, the development of relations is good for both peoples as well as for regional and global peace and development, it said.

“Both sides ought to work together to push for practical cooperation in all areas, and further increase coordination on global and international issues.”

The talks are the first since Modi took office. The nationalist Indian prime minister is keen to resolve a dispute that has clouded rapidly expanding commercial links. Any progress would throw a positive light on his expected visit to Beijing in May.

However, there is no simple solution to a conflict that largely dates back to British colonial decisions about Tibet.

The disagreement over the 3,500-km (2,175-mile) border led to a brief war in 1962 and involves large swaths of remote territory.

China claims more than 90,000 sq km (35,000 sq miles) disputed by New Delhi in the eastern sector of the Himalayas. Much of that forms the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls South Tibet.

India says China occupies 38,000 square km (14,600 sq miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west.

In September, the two armies faced off in the Ladakh sector in the western Himalayas just as Chinese President Xi Jinping was visiting India for the first summit talks with Modi.

via China says it agrees with India to maintain border peace | Reuters.

23/03/2015

India and China Talk About Their Disputed Border – India Real Time – WSJ

Indian and Chinese officials are meeting in New Delhi this week for talks on a border dispute that has for decades strained relations between the neighbors — the first such negotiations since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office last year.

The two Asian countries are separated by a nearly 2,200-mile border whose exact location is a subject of bitter dispute. China claims India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which it calls southern Tibet. India claims a Chinese-controlled region it calls Aksai Chin as part of its northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir.

India periodically accuses Chinese troops of “transgressions” across the two countries’ ill-defined boundary, known as the Line of Actual Control. Officials on both sides say such incidents are likely to continue – and perhaps escalate as India further develops its border lands – until the boundary is properly marked and settled.

The dispute cast a shadow over Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India last year – and on Mr. Modi’s efforts to improve relations with China. As Mr. Xi held his first official talks with Mr. Modi in September last year, their countries’ armies were locked in a tense face-off in the Himalayan region of Ladakh. Roughly 1,000 troops were called in on both sides, making it the biggest border confrontation between the two nations in decades.

Such episodes have interfered with the two countries’ efforts to deepen commercial relations as India seeks foreign investment to modernize its infrastructure. Mr. Modi is scheduled to visit China in May as part of those efforts.

Talks this week between China’s representative on the boundary question, Yang Jiechi, and India’s national security advisor, Ajit Doval, are aimed at giving momentum to the border talks.

Indian analysts say China may be more willing to negotiate given Mr. Modi’s steps to strengthen India’s ties with the United States. Mr. Modi visited the White House last year and U.S. President Barack Obama traveled to India to review a symbolically important military parade in January, signaling a willingness on India’s part to move closer to Washington.

But, Indian officials said, it won’t be easy. “It is an incredibly difficult problem if you look at the amount of real estate at stake and the length of the border,” said a senior official at the foreign ministry, who declined to be named.  The Indian government’s approach, the official said, is “let’s not let it drift.”

via India and China Talk About Their Disputed Border – India Real Time – WSJ.

25/11/2014

India names special envoy for China border talks | Reuters

India on Monday named its powerful national security adviser as a special envoy on China, opening the way for resumption of talks on the disputed border, where tensions have risen in recent months over border patrols and stiffer defenses.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with India's National Security Adviser Ajit Doval at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing September 9, 2014.  REUTERS/Lintao Zhang/Pool

Ajit Doval, a close aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will lead the negotiations with Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi to try and reach a settlement on dispute over the 3,500-km (2,175-mile) border that has clouded rapidly expanding commercial links.

In September, the two armies were locked in a faceoff in the Ladakh sector in the western Himalayas just as Chinese President Xi Jinping was visiting India for the first summit talks with Modi.

Both leaders vowed to work together to resolve the border row that has defied a solution even after 17 rounds of high level talks over the last decade and negotiations even earlier between the diplomats of the two countries.

China lays claim to more than 90,000 sq km (35,000 sq miles) disputed by New Delhi in the eastern sector of the Himalayas. India says China occupies 38,000 square km (14,600 sq miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west.

Doval, a hardliner on national security issues, will conduct boundary negotiations as well as strategic consultations with China, Modi’s office said in a statement.

New Delhi has vowed to beef up defenses along the border to narrow the gap with China’s network of roads and communication links. Beijing has expressed concern about India’s plan to build roads and border outposts in Arunachal Pradesh in the east, which it refers to as south Tibet.

Indian officials say Chinese border patrols have been intruding deeper into their side of the de facto border, in a sign of assertiveness that has fueled concern in the region.

(Reporting by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

via India names special envoy for China border talks | Reuters.

20/09/2014

To engage with China, India must stop peddling myths about the Line of Actual Control

Nehru’s hubris about his own statesmanship, coupled with a refusal to discuss the matter reasonably since 1962, has led us to the present tangle.

Political commentators have been gushing over the possibilities of strengthened economic and strategic relations between China and India, but the unresolved border dispute remains alive and can always play spoiler in the future. A border is, after all, more than a line on the map or a series of military posts on the ground; it is a reflection of how the political elite of a nation-state thinks about its security.

Chinese-controlled Aksai Chin is claimed by India as part of Jammu and Kashmir, and Indian-controlled Arunachal Pradesh is claimed by China. The only feasible solution is to accept the status quo and transform the Line of Actual Control into an international boundary. There have been several rounds of talks since the 1990s, but a resolution remains distant. Despite its parliamentary majority, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will be unable to sell a permanent boundary settlement without being accused of ceding territory in Aksai Chin, though in reality it will only be giving up its claim over a territory India never controlled.

This raises a pertinent question: what precisely is the border upon which India and China cannot agree?

New neighbours

Through history, China and India have not been neighbours. The current de facto border has its genesis in a line drawn on a map by Henry McMahon during a secret treaty between Britain and Tibet in March 1914. Both entities, British India and Tibet, are no more: one has been transformed into postcolonial India and the other was occupied and colonised by communist China. Yet India and China, both of whom have overthrown the mantle of Western imperialism, are jostling over the same imperialists’ line – and have completely militarised and destroyed the traditional zone of contact that the border regions were.

The border is a legacy of a few dynamics, including the expansionist policies of the British in the Himalayan regions of India, the disappearance of the traditional Tibetan state, which had political and sacral hegemony over much of the region, and the modern nationalisms in postcolonial India and revolutionary China, which are keen on implementing a rigid notion of sovereignty in the border regions and legitimising the primacy of militarised security over the religious, cultural and human rights of the people inhabiting the region.

Stuck in the middle

The primary loser in the dispute is neither India nor China but Tibet. China has occupied most of Tibetan territory, while India has occupied the Tawang tract, which was historically part of Tibet. The Tibetan state had given up the Tawang region to British India in 1914 on the understanding that they would get friendship and assistance to protect their independence from China. When China went on to occupy Tibet in 1949-’50, India reneged on that understanding, preferring the diplomatically attractive Hindi-Chini-bhai-bhai rhetoric over a strategically sound and morally defensible Indo-Tibetan friendship.

Despite reluctantly hosting the Tibetan exile community today, India did not offer any tangible help to the Tibetans in their struggle for independence. Today, as Modi and Xi plan collaborations on various fronts, Tibetans are reminded that in this world of realpolitik, morality and human rights are subservient. Tibetans are perceived as strategic assets or liabilities in bargaining with China, not people of an occupied land for whom India should raise its voice. For India, it is the border matters, not the border inhabitants.

Myths peddled by India

The popular as well as strategic approach of many in India towards the border dispute is jaundiced by the myths the Indian state peddled about the humiliating war of 1962. After the 1962 defeat, there was no credible reflection at the policy level in India. Indians accepted as real the myths that Indian territorial claims were legitimate and sacrosanct, and that the Chinese were duplicitous and stabbed gullible India in the back. The reality could not be further from this. The first Survey of India Map in 1950 showed the boundary as undefined in Aksai Chin and as undemarcated in the north east. It was only in the summer of 1954 that Jawaharlal Nehru gave personal orders for all old maps to be withdrawn and destroyed and to remove qualifiers and show the McMahon Line in bold, as if that was the de jure boundary.

Nehru later claimed innocence, insisting that there was no boundary disagreement and that Chinese claims were surprising. Since 1959, India rejected all the diplomatic overtures of Zhou Enlai and said negotiations could only take place if China withdrew from Aksai Chin, though India would not offer anything in return. Since 1961, the Indian military followed a “forward policy” in the border regions that was not only provocative but based on the assumption that China would not retaliate.

A great unresolved mystery from the time is why the best Indian minds working in intelligence, military and diplomacy accepted this assumption without a murmur of protest. It can be explained by Nehru’s hubris in his own capacity as a statesperson, bureaucracies subservient to him, and the inability of the civilian and military elite to be independent-minded. Macho posturing was the order of the day. The Indianisation of the top brass in the military occurred only after independence in 1947, so they were inexperienced as leaders. Faced with an army that had its genesis in revolutionary wars, the Indian army, which had been servant to an imperial power, failed to perform its basic duty of protecting the country.

via Scroll.in – News. Politics. Culture..

01/12/2013

China, India spar over disputed border | Reuters

China on Saturday urged India not to aggravate problems on the border shared by the two nations, a day after the Indian president toured a disputed region and called it an integral part of the country.

China's President Xi Jinping (R) talks with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (L) during a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing October 23, 2013. REUTERS/Peng Sun/Pool

The two countries, which fought a brief border war in 1962, only last month signed a pact to ensure that differences on the border do not spark a confrontation.

But Indian President Pranab Mukherjee\’s visit to the state of Arunachal Pradesh in the remote eastern stretch of the Himalayas that China claims as its own provoked a fresh exchange of words.

\”We hope that India will proceed along with China, protecting our broad relationship, and will not take any measures that could complicate the problem, and together we can protect peace and security in the border regions,\” China\’s official news agency, Xinhua, quoted Qin Gang, a spokesman of the country\’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as saying.

\”Currently Sino-India relations are developing favorably and both sides are going through special envoy meetings and amicable discussions to resolve the border dispute between our two countries.\”

Mukherjee was on a routine visit to Arunachal which has been part of the Indian state for decades, and where India has regularly been holding elections. But China has of late grown increasingly assertive and questioned New Delhi\’s claims over the territory, calling it instead South Tibet.

Mukherjee told members of the state\’s legislative assembly it was \”a core stakeholder in India\’s Look East foreign policy\” that intends to link the country\’s northeast with South East Asia.

\”We seek to make our neighbors partners in our development,\” Mukherjee said in Itanagar, the state capital. \”We believe that India\’s future and our own best economic interests are served by closer integration with Asia.\”

China lays claim to more than 90,000 sq km (35,000 sq miles) disputed by New Delhi in the eastern sector of the Himalayas, while India says China occupies 38,000 square km of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west.

via China, India spar over disputed border | Reuters.

23/10/2013

China, India sign deal aimed at soothing Himalayan tension | Reuters

China and India signed a deal on Wednesday aimed at soothing tension on their contested border, as the two nuclear-armed giants try to break a decades-old stalemate on overlapping claims to long remote stretches of the Himalayas.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) speaks during a joint news conference with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing October 23, 2013. REUTERS/Kyodo News/Peng Sun/Pool

The agreement was signed in Beijing\’s Great Hall of the People following a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

China, a close ally of India\’s long-time foe, Pakistan, lays claim to more than 90,000 sq km (35,000 sq miles) disputed by New Delhi in the eastern sector of the Himalayas. India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometers (14,600 square miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west.

via China, India sign deal aimed at soothing Himalayan tension | Reuters.

20/10/2013

India, China near pact aimed at keeping lid on border tension | Reuters

India and China are close to an agreement to stop tension on their contested border touching off confrontation while they try to figure out a way to break decades-old stalemate on overlapping claims to long stretches of the Himalayas.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) speaks with the media as India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh looks on during the signing of agreements ceremony in New Delhi May 20, 2013. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

The border defense cooperation pact that diplomats are racing to finalize ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh‘s visit to China next week is a small step forward in a complicated relationship marked by booming economic ties but also growing distrust.

In May, the two armies ended a three-week standoff in the western Himalayas after Chinese troops set up a camp at least 10 km (6 miles) inside territory claimed by India, triggering a public outcry and calls that India should stand up to its powerful neighbor.

China denied that troops had crossed into Indian territory.

Under the new agreement, the two nuclear-armed sides will give notice of patrols along the ill-defined border. They will ensure that patrols do not “tail” each other to reduce the chance of confrontation.

The two armies, strung out along the 4,000-km (2,500-mile) border from the high altitude Ladakh plateau in the west to the jungles of Arunachal Pradesh in the east, have also agreed to set up a hotline between top ranking officers, in addition to existing brigade-level contacts.

“The key issue is maintaining peace and tranquility on the border,” said an Indian government official.

The border defense cooperation agreement is built on existing confidence-building measures and is designed to ensure that patrolling along the Line of Actual Control, as the unsettled border is called, does not escalate into an unintended skirmish, he said.

“Barring last minute problems, there should be an agreement. It’s a question of crossing the Ts and dotting the Is,” the officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

India and China fought a brief border war in 1962 and since then ties have been mired in distrust. China lays claims to more than 90,000 square km (35,000 sq miles) of land in the eastern sector. India disputes that and instead says China occupies 38,000 sq km (14,600 sq miles) of territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west.

A Chinese airline last week blocked two Indian archers from disputed Arunachal Pradesh from travelling to China, souring the mood in India just days before Singh travels to Beijing.

“The fundamental problem they are not tackling is defining the Line of Actual Control and then a settlement of the border,” said Srikanth Kondapalli, a China expert at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.

BEEFING UP DEFENCES

One reason tension has risen is that both countries are upgrading civil and military infrastructure on either side of the frontier.

China has vastly improved its roads and is building or extending airfields on its side of the border in Tibet. It has placed nuclear-capable intermediate missiles in the area and deployed about 300,000 troops across the Tibetan plateau, according to a 2010 Pentagon report.

India has also woken up and is in the midst of a 10-year plan to scale up its side of the border with a network of roads and airfields. In July, the cabinet cleared the raising of a new mountain corps comprising about 50,000 troops to be deployed on the Chinese border.

“China has developed the border infrastructure so intricately that its roads and tracks even in high mountainous regions look like fingers running down your spine,” said retired Lieutenant General Prakash Katoch who commanded the Indian army’s Special Forces wing.

Chinese nuclear and missile assistance to Pakistan as well as a widening trade deficit in China’s favor have added to Indian fear about encirclement. China, on the other hand, is concerned about Tibetan activists using India as a base to further their separatist aims.

“It strikes me that many of the usual grievances have grown in prominence over the past several months: Chinese incursions on the border, the issuance of irregular visas, continued Chinese support for Pakistan\’s nuclear program, and so on,” said Shashank Joshi, a fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London.

“It also seems that India is eager to keep these grievances in check.”

via India, China near pact aimed at keeping lid on border tension | Reuters.

See also: https://chindia-alert.org/2013/10/20/six-wars-china-is-sure-to-fight-in-the-next-50-years-stratrisks/

07/05/2013

* Thunder out of China

It is most confusing for this state of affairs when the country continues to declare at every opportunioy that it has peaceful intentions and wants to co-exist peacefully with everyone, especially its neighbours.

The Economist: “FOR an emerging power that makes much of the peacefulness of its rise, China is engaged in what looks suspiciously like aggression on an alarming number of fronts. India says Chinese soldiers have set up camp 19km (12 miles) on its side of the “line of actual control” (LAC) that separates Ladakh in its state of Jammu & Kashmir from China, in the absence of an agreed border. Japan reports that Chinese maritime surveillance vessels are every day circling the disputed Senkaku or Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. And on April 26th China demanded that the Philippines “withdraw all its nationals and facilities” from a number of islands and reefs in the South China Sea, where they have been, in some cases, for decades. In all these cases China can with some justification claim it is responding to provocation. That, however, is scant comfort to its increasingly anxious neighbours.

Of the three territorial disputes it is the rekindling of the one with India that comes most as a surprise. Two long sectors of the border are contested. In the east, China briefly occupied part of what is now the state of Arunachal Pradesh, south of Tibet, in a bloody punitive war in 1962. In the west, the Aksai Chin, a high plateau the size of Switzerland, is occupied by China but claimed by India as part of Ladakh. In both sectors, patrols from each side often stray into what the other sees as its territory. They do not, however, pitch tents, as China’s soldiers have in this incursion. It is the most serious confrontation on either end of the border since 1986. After that stand-off, the two countries agreed to set the quarrel to one side, in an endless negotiation on the demarcation of the LAC, as they concentrated on building trade and other ties. A drive a decade ago to reach a political settlement soon ran into the sand. But neither side has an interest in forcing the issue.

Now above all, when China is embroiled in the other disputes, and the region is tense because of North Korea’s erratic bellicosity, it seems incomprehensible that China should want to resurrect yet another squabble. China of course denies it has done anything of the kind, insisting its soldiers are on its side of the LAC. It may, however, feel provoked. Ajai Shukla, an Indian defence analyst, has pointed out that the Indian army has been undertaking what he calls its “third surge towards the Sino-Indian border”. The previous two were in the late 1950s—leading to the 1962 war—and in 1986, leading to the present stalemate. Now, once again, says Mr Shukla, India has been “thickening” its presence in Arunachal Pradesh and in Aksai Chin, with more soldiers, weaponry and infrastructure.

So China may feel India is exploiting both the inexperience of its new leaders who took over last November, and the pressure China is under on other fronts. It may harbour similar suspicions about Japan and its “provocations” over what China calls the Diaoyu islands. Its patrols near the islands were prompted by Japan’s ignoring its warnings not to “nationalise” three of the islands by buying them from their private owner last September.

More recently—in late April—ten Japanese boats carrying about 80 right-wing activists sailed towards the islands. And members of the cabinet of Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, angered China by visiting the Yasukuni shrine—where high-ranking war criminals are among the enshrined war-dead. Part of China’s response was to reiterate that the Diaoyus are one of its “core interests”—the issues, like Taiwan and Tibet, over which it might go to war. In a joint communiqué signed by Barack Obama in 2009, America and China promised to respect each other’s core interests.

The demand directed at the Philippines, that it withdraw from disputed islands, was also a reaction—to the Philippines’ taking its dispute with China to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. China rightly points out that, although the law of the sea sets rules about the waters and exclusive economic zones around islands, it says nothing about sovereignty over them.

On that question, China seems intent on imposing its own view. In addition to verbal attacks on the Philippines, it this week started tourist cruises around the Paracel archipelago (Xisha in Chinese). This is still claimed by Vietnam, which was evicted by China from the islands in 1974. China’s rows with the Philippines and Vietnam have been the most active of its many disputes in the sea. But in late March it also antagonised Brunei and Malaysia, by sending a naval flotilla where those two nations have claims, at the southern tip of China’s expansive “nine-dashed line”, a vague cartographic claim dating from the 1930s.

Individually, China’s actions can be seen as pragmatic reactions to different pressures. But, taken together, they bring two dangers. First, they make China seem embarked on a concerted campaign to establish new “facts on the ground” (or water) to strengthen its position in future negotiations or conflicts. More likely, they show almost the opposite: that China’s foreign-policy chiefs lack the clout to impose a co-ordinated, calibrated response to coincidental provocations. Rather than picking off its adversaries one by one, China is taking them all on at once. The impression of an aggressive rising power is hard to shake off.”

via Banyan: Thunder out of China | The Economist.

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