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23 Jan, 2013

China: Is US A Peacemaker Or Provocateur On South China Sea Issue?

China Daily Commentary

January 21, 2013 – The United States is sending a dangerous message on the territorial dispute between China and Japan, which may lead the tension in the East China Sea to spin out of control.

On the one hand, after talking with visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Washington on Friday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said her country wants to see China and Japan resolve this matter peacefully through dialogue: “We do not want to see any action taken by anyone that could raise tensions or result in miscalculations that would undermine the peace, security, and economic growth in this region.”

On the other hand, she announced that China’s Diaoyu Islands are under the administration of Japan and the US-Japan Security Treaty obliges the US to defend Japan in the event of island-related hostilities.

The US has complicated the territorial dispute between China and Japan. Although it claims to be ostensibly neutral, its partiality to its ally emboldened Japan to “nationalize” three of the Diaoyu Islands last September, breaking the two countries previous consensus to shelve the dispute.

Japan stole the islands from China and held them until the end of World War II, when the US took control. Based on the backroom Okinawa Reversion Treaty, the US returned them to Japan in 1972 amid protests from China.

This was counter to the principles of the Cairo Declaration of 1943 and the Potsdam Proclamation of 1945, which obliged Japan to return all the territories it stole from China.

By putting the Diaoyu Islands under the US’ treaty obligations, the US Secretary of State has highlighted that the US will go against any unilateral action that will infringe upon the administration rights of Japan.

Clinton’s words made clear to all that the US will allow its security treaty with Japan to go beyond the bilateral scope and undermine the sovereignty of China.

The way the US is bracing and bolstering Japan is dangerous given Japan’s plans and the way Japan is letting the tension flare up. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said last week that Japan may fire tracer bullets as warning shots at Chinese planes that patrol the Diaoyu Islands.

Clinton’s remarks have only added fuel to the fire.

The region welcomes the US if it acts as a peacemaker, not if it acts as a provocateur.