By Francis Asprec, currently working in Sichuan, China. He holds a MSc from New York University in Global Affairs.
In the past month, tensions between China and Japan have escalated to new heights. The latest incident involves a Chinese fisherman who was detained by Japanese authorities and released after much pressure from the Chinese government.
In early September, Captain Zhan Qixiong, a Chinese fisherman, encountered trouble in the East China Sea when his boat was seized by Japanese patrol vessels. He was detained by Japanese authorities, with the possibility of being prosecuted. His arrest in Japan sparked outrage throughout China. China’s leaders threatened retaliation and economic sanctions if Japan did not release Mr. Zhan.
Eventually, he was released. While China felt victorious in getting Mr. Zhan back home, the relations between these neighboring countries is far from healed. China is still demanding an apology.
The Real Problem: Territory.
Captain Zhan sailed near Diayou, an island that China claims. The Japanese call those islands Senkaku and claim them. This dispute has dragged on for many years and nothing has been resolved.
Eyes On The Ground:
I witnessed a demonstration of more than 200 people in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. This demonstration called for Chinese people to boycott Japanese stores in Chengdu. These people wanted to express their anger and outrage and demanded that Japan apologize to China for this mishap. The demonstrators’ message was loud and clear. Half of Chunxi Lu (Road), a commercial street filled with shops, restaurants, and socializing, was blocked off.
How can each country work on improving their relations?
Will there ever be a resolution towards the territorial dispute?
What lessons can be learned so far about China-Japan relations?
How are the world’s second and third largest economies going to resolve their problems?
These questions will continue to be asked. At the moment, there are no clear answers, but I firmly believe that China and Japan will work out their differences.
What do you think?