Territorial, historical issues drag down Northeast Asia

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/1/23 23:08:39

Now that US President Donald Trump has taken office, China, Japan and South Korea will all be confronted with the pressure of future adjustments to US diplomacy. Will the three Asian nations form a united front against the possible presumptuous demands raised by the Trump government? Almost impossible.

Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul will have to face the pressure from Washington on their own. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the first head of government of the three nations to have met with Trump. He will very likely fly to the US soon to meet with him again. One of his goals is to seek Trump's assurance on the US obligation to defend the Diaoyu Islands.

The disputes over the deployment of the THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea have raised tensions between Beijing and Seoul. South Korea believes some of the restrictive measures from China are punishments against Seoul because of THAAD. A recent move from South Korea, imposing anti-dumping duties on Chinese offset printing plates, is also analyzed as a retaliation against Beijing.

Conflicts over historical issues among the three sides emerge one after another. The Japanese APA hotel chain sparked controversy after putting books that denied the Nanjing Massacre in guest rooms. A statue of "comfort women" outside the Japanese consulate in Busan further soured Japan-South Korea ties.

China, Japan and South Korea were once one of the most active areas in the world in economic, trade and cultural exchanges. However, the current trend is far from optimistic.

The scale of territorial controversies among the three is quite small. They are almost nothing compared with the disputes in the South China Sea and on the continent of Asia. When China, India and the Philippines can be cool with their territorial controversies, the contention in Northeast Asia only indicates that it is not merely an issue of territory.

Japan was the first one to treat historical issues with the mindset of a strategic battle, and it is going forward on this path as if it has nothing to lose. South Korea is showing its stubbornness and readiness to risk everything.

Being affected by them, China can only withstand through confrontation. As a region that used to be dominated by development and cooperation, it is now shrouded in divergences and antagonism.

We should be aware that we have better options than that, yet we walked away from it.

Posted in: OBSERVER

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