In his speech made at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said that Japan wants to comply with international law and resolve the Diaoyu Islands dispute through international arbitration. This shows that Japan has changed its previous position of avoiding discussion of the islands, and is now attempting to take pre-emptive action to seek international support.
Noda knows very well that this is something the Chinese side will not agree to do.
The Diaoyu Islands dispute has escalated, but the Diaoyu itself is too small to stage a full China-Japan competition. As a result, Sino-Japanese relations will become more complex.
Both China and Japan will gradually come to realize that the dispute is not simply over some islands. Factors such as ambitions and mixed feelings as well as uncertainty caused by changes to the balance of power in the West Pacific have complicated the issue.
From China's perspective, this dispute is not simply a territorial one. It is related to many of China's critical strategic goals and concerns. China cannot give up the Diaoyu Islands. Also, the resolution to this dispute cannot be allowed to set a bad example for other similar territorial spats. China's internal unity and rise cannot be disrupted by this dispute.
Unity and development are China's advantages in terms of global politics. China will eventually become more united and more powerful. However, to foreign forces, China's unity and development present relatively easy targets to undermine.
With wider strategic interests to be considered, China has to take a more sophisticated approach in tackling the issue. It needs to deal with Japan and keep an eye on its global strategy simultaneously. For a long time, Japan was more developed than China, and once invaded us, but this is no reason for China to be stuck in an inferiority complex.
For now, China should strive to end Japan's actual control over the islands. But the majority of China's resources must be distributed globally. More success in other parts of the world will help China to smash Japan's illusion of taking over Diaoyu.
Solving the issue will be a long-term struggle, but it is Japan that will suffer more since the country is in decline.
After a century of complicated feelings toward its neighbor, mixing admiration, hatred and misery, it is time for China to rebuild its psychological strength against Japan.