The Japanese government is reportedly studying a compromise over the Diaoyu Islands issue, which would take into consideration China's position while insisting on Japan's "no sovereignty dispute" stance. According to Japanese media, whether the compromise is implemented or not will depend on China's future attitude.
We think there is no possibility of Japan making any substantial compromise with China over Diaoyu at this time. Chinese public opinion should have no such expectations. The so-called compromise proposed by Japan can only be a gesture aimed at tempering the tension and reducing the damage caused to the Japanese economy.
But this gesture also signals a new development in Sino-Japanese relations. Tokyo's arrogance has been dampened, while China is getting the upper hand in its tussle with Japan.
The mutually agreed principle of putting aside the dispute was broken when Japan sought to change the status quo. China was forced to become engaged in a struggle with Japan. International opinion hasn't linked China's response with its rise, which paves the way for long-term competition over the Diaoyu Islands through national strength.
Though Japan has announced its intention to nationalize Diaoyu, China has made more tangible progress by deploying regular maritime administrative vessels in the surrounding waters. This will create favorable conditions for further effective law enforcement in the area, and even actual control over the islands in the future.
Japan has learned a hard lesson through this round of competition. Clearly, China shouldn't be easily provoked. The offensives constantly launched by Japan toward China in recent years may reach a turning point.
China's current strength doesn't allow for an immediate solution to the Diaoyu issue. It also has no dominance in the expansive waters surrounding Diaoyu at this point. Besides securing its claim of sovereignty over the islands, the country has to conserve its resources to ensure its peaceful development. Now, the two tasks are more closely interlinked. China's growing strength will mean more advantages in solving the Diaoyu issue.
China used to be overly worried about how its diplomatic maneuvers would be perceived by others. Now it's clear it has ample room to make diplomatic moves. China can decide how to respond to Japan's compromise depending on its specific content. In the long run, it is almost inevitable that Japan will make a strategic compromise with China.