A ship from Hong Kong sailed into the open sea yesterday, and plans to head toward the Diaoyu Islands with an activists' ship from Taiwan. The Japanese side previously claimed that they might send Self-Defense Forces to block activists from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong from landing on the islands. Though the Japanese embassy has denied the claim, the situation surrounding the Diaoyu Islands looks grim.
We firmly oppose Japan sending Self-Defense Forces against Chinese grass-roots activists.
If Japan does so out of a whim, it will force China to send warships to the Diaoyu Islands' waters. A confrontation will arise between the countries' activists, which may later escalate into one between warships, boding ill for East Asian security.
Territorial disputes have intensified in East Asia as state leaders of Russia and South Korea landed on disputed islands under their control, spurring other claimants to take further actions. Japanese lawmakers have actively responded to the idea of visiting the Diaoyu Islands. Japanese media also urged Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to join the bandwagon. Joint efforts between the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong are a response to a series of actions proposed by Japan this year, from purchasing the islands to landing on them.
The geopolitical climate between China and Japan is also more complicated, most prominently in Japan. Coming under pressure from Russia and South Korea, Japan might vent its sentiment over the Diaoyu Islands, which are now under its control. Scoring points in the Diaoyu Islands, making up for the loss in the Northern Territories, known as the Southern Kurils Islands in Russia, and Takeshima Islands, known as Dokdo Islands in South Korea, is an attractive strategy to Japanese politicians.
Japan taking bold actions against Chinese activists or Japanese politicians visiting Diaoyu Islands will both mean a radical escalation in the situation. China must guard against them, and have countermeasures in place.
China needs to use different channels to warn Japan to restrain itself. Grass-roots activists from China are not new elements in the disputes. Japan's reaction cannot break the practices of the past. They have to ensure the safety of Chinese activists. Unexpected mishaps due to Japan's blocking will lead to retaliations from both the Chinese government and the public. Anti-Japanese sentiment is also running high in Russia and South Korea. Japan has become isolated in the East Asia territorial disputes. The Chinese mainland also has support from Taiwan and Hong Kong. Japan will not gain any advantage if the conflict intensifies.
Japan has behaved actively in regional territorial disputes. However, it has overspent its diplomatic resources. It is a delusion to think it can overwhelm China with its persistent provocations.