- - Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The tensions over the East China Sea islands reached new levels of tension after Beijing declared eight uninhabited islands at the center of a territorial dispute with Tokyo part of China’s new aerial zone (“China sets air defense zone over East China Sea’s disputed islands,” Web, Nov. 23). China warned of “defensive emergency measures” if the zone is violated. The danger now is that the action increases the risk of misunderstandings, miscalculations and even a shooting incident.

The rising tensions between the Chinese and Japanese are making a military clash ever more likely. That would imperil not just China and Japan, but the region’s peace and its momentous economic advances. If China is to implement fully the policy of its air-defense identification zone, there will be an increasing likelihood of conflict and confrontation in the air between Japan and China. The world, including the United States, has a duty to warn China and Japan before it is too late — though warnings will be interpreted as conspiracies. So who in the world will speak out against this unfolding madness?

There is an alternative and pressing agenda. To this end, the United States, China and Japan should pay serious attention to Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou’s call for talks among the parties concerned for joint development of the seas around the disputed islands and for shelving the sovereignty issue. 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.

All parties concerned should work together on achieving the aims of the East China Sea Peace Initiative as soon as possible, so that the East China Sea can become a sea of “peace and cooperation.” Mr. Ma’s initiative is the best way to address the sovereignty-of-islands dispute as it complies with the United States’ stance on this issue.

KENT WANG
Advisory commissioner, Overseas Chinese Affairs Council
Potomac Falls