Tuesday, December 14, 2010

China. China China China. China is. China is America’s challenger in Asian hegemony. America’s competitor in the global economy. America’s cohort in avoiding environmental responsibilities. So much goes on between both countries that it’s difficult to keep track of just where the two are competing and where they are getting along.

Pyongyang’s Yongpyong Island shelling last month caused a diplomatic dispute between the U.S. and China over whether or not to enter into talks with N.K. At the same time both countries have been meeting for increased military cooperation and transparency. Diplomatic bottlenecks be damned—does the U.S. really want to talk with N.K. again?—the two powers that be are determined to keep hostilities (between each other) to a minimum.

A new guarantee for that minimum is Japan’s new defense posture: at China. Japan’s defensive posture had previously been prepared for Russia, but China’s brusque insistence over the Senkaku Islands has rankled Japan’s nose. Increasing its submarine force (from 16-22), placing 100 troops on Yonaguni Island (Japan’s westernmost island) for Chinese naval surveillance, and the completion of Keen Sword 11 (sounds like a video game) with the United States all signal Japan’s new stance.

China’s eager territorial assertiveness and tacit support of North Korea are proving a burden necessitating a permanent U.S. presence in the Pacific and a more defiant Japanese attitude. Moreover, if China’s aggressiveness doesn’t subside it could stand to see an India-S. Korea-Japan naval axis aimed at stopping it. With U.S. support that would be a tough bond to break…as long as the U.S. gets a handle in too.

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