There’s a word for Beijing’s new island dispute tactics with Tokyo: Hardball

Special to

By Willy Lam,

Since territorial disputes erupted between China and Japan in the early 1970s over the Diaoyu islets (called the Senkakus in Japan), Beijing has stuck to late patriarch Deng Xiaoping’s famous dictum:

A Japan Coast Guard vessel (bottom) monitors a Chinese fisheries patrol boat (top) near the disputed Senkaku or Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea in August 2011.

“Leave the question of sovereignty for the next generation; let’s put the emphasis on joint [economic] development.”

Given that Tokyo has since the 1970s administered the islands on a de facto basis, Deng’s largely conciliatory approach has implied that Beijing would not take proactive measures to take back the uninhabited archipelago.

Yet the latest flare-up in the Diaoyu-Senkaku row, which was precipitated by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s announcement that the Japanese central government planned to buy back three of the islets from a private Japanese landowner, has shown that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) administration is mulling much more aggressive tactics toward asserting its claims.

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