The 14 Chinese who sailed to the Diaoyu Islands to assert China's sovereignty on Wednesday have been released by the Japanese side on Friday, a good ending to these activists' heroic act. But it doesn't mean the end of the Diaoyu dispute. The right wing of Japan might retaliate, while China's acts to defend the Diaoyu Islands will continue. As long as the Diaoyu Islands are still under Japanese control, there is no complete victory.
But after all, Chinese people have landed on the Diaoyu Islands again. Under diplomatic pressure from the Chinese government, Japan didn't overreact. Thanks to the geopolitical changes in East Asia, China is showing more confidence in promoting its rights.
Then who is the winner in this capture-and-release scenario? It depends. Japan has taken this opportunity to demonstrate its "legitimate control" of the Islands, in hope of winning global sympathy. But few will share this view. Instead, the scene of Chinese national flags flying on the Islands has been etched into the memories of a majority of Chinese, as evidence of China's ownership of the islands.
And the move to protect the Diaoyu Islands also strikes the chord of national recognition across the Taiwan Straits. Over the past few days, Diaoyu Islands have become a spiritual center for many Chinese, both home and abroad.
The so-called "defensive line" of Japan can actually be broken. And Japan also showed restraint under high pressure from the outside world.
However, Japan is a strong competitor of China. It won't easily give up the Diaoyu Islands due to fear of China's rise.
Though China has still to realize its territorial integrity, and is perhaps the only country in the world "whose citizens could be arrested by foreign police on their own soil," China is not haunted by pessimism. Instead, a proactive and vigorous spirit can always be found even in tough times.
There is still a long way to go to solve the Diaoyu dispute, but at least for yesterday and today, we should leave all the unhappiness to Japan. Our activists have come back safe and sound, which deserve our celebration.
China still has many goals to reach, it needs further development, it needs a peaceful time, but also to get back all of the islands that once belonged to China but were then carved up by world's super powers. But at the same time, we need understand that a China with all its problems solved won't miraculously appear from the sky. We have to remain calm and unflustered.
In this regard, the Diaoyu dispute is not likely to be a candy to soothe China, but very possibly, a grindstone for stored-up feelings in Chinese hearts.