Who Will Start the Pacific War?

3G3C6314The Sino-Japanese rivalry has pulled in India and attracted the attention of the United States.

By Abhirup Bhunia.

Japan and China have turned the Asia-Pacific region into a cauldron of tension. It is a situation that Henry Kissinger, at a panel in February, compared to 19th Century Europe, saying, “Military conflict is not ruled out.” Analysts warn against the steep path to open conflict, yet the two nations continue to maneuver for the upper hand. Both China and Japan have ramped up economic and geopolitical engagements with India in order to secure a strong ally. Meanwhile, the U.S. has no desire to leave its stake in the region to hang between the Sino-Japanese rivalry and is levying its influence accordingly. The presence of the U.S. and India in the mix may bring stability, but a miscalculation by any party could quickly escalate the rivalry. All four nations are continuing to advance their own self-interest in the face of an impending disaster.

Abe, the Elephant, and the Dragon

China and Japan have a history of political acrimony. In China, there is a lasting distrust of old Japanese imperialism, and the rapid ascension of China as a major power has challenged Japan’s status in the region. Tensions recently reignited in a squabble between the two Asian powers over a tiny island, called Senkaku by the Japanese and Diaoyu by the Chinese. In April, China left Japan out of regional naval exercises that included India and Pakistan as a result of the dispute over the islands. With a history of colonization in China and a renewed sense of nationalism in Japan, bitterness over issues of sovereignty runs deep. While the island dispute is today’s flashpoint, China and Japan have been nearly all-weather adversaries. Their enmity transcends the realm of politics; polls show ordinary Chinese and Japanese are often hostile to each other. The full-fledged Sino-Japanese rivalry, which has sparked fears of all-out war between the two countries, has …

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