One of the major foreign policy challenges of the second Obama administration is the rising risk of a clash between China and Japan, the consequences of which could be calamitous. China and Japan have had well-known disputes and clashes in the past. The most pressing issue between them currently concerns the disputed islets in the East China Sea, which Japan controls and calls the Senkakus but which China and Taiwan lay claim to and call the Diaoyutais.
In the waters and skies around the disputed islands, China is escalating actions designed to challenge decades of Japanese control. As Beijing pursues a policy of maritime expansion, it is accompanying its campaign with increasingly blood-curdling rhetoric, making a military clash now more likely. China and Japan are sliding toward a war that would imperil not just China and Japan, but the region's peace and its momentous economic advances.
The world, including the United States, has a duty to warn China and Japan before it is too late, though warnings will doubtless be interpreted as conspiracies. Who in the world will speak out against this unfolding madness? The United States, China and Japan should pay serious attention to Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou's call for talks among the parties concerned with the disputed islands. Mr. Ma's initiative calls for all parties to refrain from provocation, shelve their differences, maintain dialogue, observe international law and resolve the dispute by peaceful means. The president's initiative is the best way to address the sovereignty issue, and is aligned with the United States' stance.
Advisory commissioner, Overseas Chinese Affairs Council
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