China’s ploy to undercut US-Japan ties


By Andrew Taffer*

The Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Between April and June this year, Chinese Coast Guard ships entered the contiguous zone around the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea for a record 64 consecutive days. In this flashpoint area between China and Japan, the number of Chinese incursions into the islands’ territorial sea so far this year already exceeds the total number for all of 2018.

While these latest incursions have occurred in the context of improving bilateral ties between China and Japan, and do not constitute or portend a major incident or crisis, it is only a matter of time until tensions spike again. Because crises over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands may carry outsize consequences for regional stability, the US-Japan alliance, and Sino-American competition, it is important to understand Beijing’s strategy.

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