At midnight on Sunday morning, Japan’s new ambassador to Beijing, Uichiro Niwa, was unceremoniously summoned to meet a leading Chinese Communist Party official, State Councillor Dai Bingguo. Councillor Dai demanded the return of the ship and crew of a Chinese trawler detained by Japan for illegal activity in its territorial waters near the disputed Senkaku Islands.
This was Ambassador Niwa’s fifth dressing down by senior Chinese officials—including the foreign minister—but the first by a senior party official…
The incident marks a first for Japan. Typically, Japan’s Coast Guard regularly sails these waters, prompting Chinese fishing vessels to turn and leave when they appear. But this time the Chinese fishing boat refused to obey the Japanese Coast Guard’s warning. Not only did the ship’s captain reportedly refused to leave when confronted by Coast Guard patrol ships, but he allegedly rammed the side of two ships in separate encounters within an hour. This unprecedented show of defiance prompted the Japanese government to bring him in, and charge him with obstructing the public duties of Japan’s Coast Guard.
East China Sea conflict aside, how are those islands in the South China Sea doing?
Unless someone asks, I’m not gonna’ get into the history of the border dispute along either of these two areas. Can’t we all just get along?
UPDATE May 6, 2012
More on China’s assertiveness: