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China’s intrusion into Japanese waters around Senkaku Islands possibly a reaction against Quad cooperation
InternationalOct 16. 2020Okinawa Prefecture’s Senkaku Islands seen in an aerial photo taken from a Yomiuri plane in September 2013. (The Yomiuri Shimbun file photo)
By Kiyota Higa/Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent
The Japan News/ANN
BEIJING — The reason Chinese President Xi Jinping’s administration resumed its intrusions into Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture from Sunday to Tuesday appears to be a desire to demonstrate its refusal to compromise on its territorial claims amid a wave of developments affecting regional affairs in the Asia-Pacific region, including the inauguration of Japan’s new Cabinet and the U.S. presidential election approaching in November.
The Xi administration had refrained from having its ships enter Japanese territorial waters since Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga took office in September. It appears to have intended to assess the Suga administration’s stance toward China. Meanwhile, the Japanese government appeared to have moved to rein in China by actions such as holding a meeting of foreign ministers with Australia, India and the United States on Oct. 6 to reinforce cooperation on maritime security among the four nations, a grouping known as the Quad.
The Xi administration is believed to have been expressing its frustration by intruding into the territorial waters again. China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed caution about the Quad’s cooperation on Tuesday, accusing it of trying to create a Indo-Pacific version of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
In addition, the city of Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture, renamed the area covering the Senkaku Islands on Oct. 1. China’s foreign ministry insists that it “reserves the right” to take countermeasures. So the recent intrusion could also be considered as a countermeasure.
China also likely intends to deter Japan’s ally, the United States. With less than a month left in the U.S. presidential election, the Democratic candidate, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, is ahead of Trump in the opinion polls. The administration of former President Barack Obama — in which Biden held the No. 2 post — was the first to explicitly state that the Senkaku Islands are within the scope of Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. In anticipation of a Biden victory, China may have been indicating that it will not cave in to the United States in the future.
China is likely to keep increasing the pressure over the Senkaku Islands. According to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency, Xi inspected a navy marine corps base in southern China’s Guangdong Province on Tuesday and instructed the force to improve its combat capabilities. The primary focus of the marine corps is said to be on Taiwan, but “it also appears to be calculating the psychological pressure on Japan,” according to diplomatic sources in Beijing.
On Tuesday, China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress also began deliberations on a bill that will serve as the new basis for the Chinese Coast Guard. It is expected to spell out the specific duties and authorities of the coast guard, which could lead to an increase in provocative actions in the waters around the Senkaku Islands in cooperation with the Chinese Navy.