East Asia Theater
A dispute over offshore oil and gas rights in waters claimed by both countries as part of their "exclusive economic zone" seems to be behind recent tensions between China and Japan—ostensibly sparked by official Japanese revisionism over its role in World War II. The popular protests in the streets ignited by new textbook portrayals of Japanese aggression in the 1930s are mirrored by diplomatic spats over industrial access to the East China Sea.
"Crouching Tiger, Swimming Dragon," an op-ed in the April 11 NY Times by Nayan Chanda, former editor of Far Eastern Economic Review, notes with alarm that Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao last week signed a deal in Islamabad for construction of a deep-sea facility at Pakistan's Indian Ocean port of Gwadar. Although it is ostensibly to be built for trade, Chanda fears "a permanent Chinese naval presence near the Srait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of the world's oil passes." It all gives the historically astute Chanda an uneasy sense of deja vu.
Now isn't this interesting? A front-page headline in the Feb. 11 NY Times reads: "North Koreans Say They Hold Nuclear Arms; Assert They'll Refuse to Rejoin Negotiations." The article states this stance could "bolster" those in the US administration who favor "destabilizing the government of President Kim Jong Il."