China to Japan: Diaoyu Islands belong to us, thanks.

Conflict continues over who can lay claim to the disputed Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

Xinhua news agency is reporting that China is “strongly displeased” over Japan’s recent remarks over which country owns the islands, with foreign military spokesperson Hong Lei challenging Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s assertation that the islands do indeed belong to Japan, and have since 1895 and earlier. A bit of history:

“Hong stressed that the Diaoyu Islands and surrounding islets ‘have been the inherent territory of China since ancient times’ because they ‘were first found, named and used by the Chinese.’

The earliest historical record of Diaoyu Islands can be dated back to China’s Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) in a book titled ‘Departure Along the Wind’ (published in 1403), in which the names of ‘Diaoyu Islet’ and ‘Chiwei Islet’ were used. The names refer to the nowadays Diaoyu Islands and Chiwei Islet, Hong said.

He went on to say that Hu Zongxian, the Zhejiang governor of Ming Dynasty, marked Diaoyu Islands and surrounding islets in China’s maritime defense.

‘It demonstrated that these islands were at least within China’s maritime defense sphere since the Ming Dynasty,’ Hong said.

Japan claimed its sovereign requirement during the China-Japanese War in 1895 and seized the islands with illegal means. ‘The saying that Diaoyu Islands were inherent territory of Japan is totally groundless,’ Hong said.”

Sooo… who exactly cares what happens to islands that, by all accounts, might be totally worthless spits of land?

Well, they might not be so worthless. The islands are important mainly because of their location near key sea lanes. They are surrounded in the East China Sea by rich fishing grounds and untapped underwater natural resources.

The bitter disputer has prompted one editorial at China Daily News to beg the boycott question:

“Boycotting Japanese products would be a practical approach to punish Japanese right wing activists for trying to arouse ultra-nationalist sentiments in Japan. China, strong as it is today, is indeed in a position to use its ‘importer’s power. It is, after all, the world’s second largest importer and its annual import growth rate is more than twice of that of the world average in the past decade.

Also, China’s current account surplus and foreign exchange reserves (largest in the world) will ensure that it retains its huge import capacity. This is especially true when it comes to Japan, because China is one of the largest markets for Japanese products.

But importer’s power will be effective only if goods can be easily accessed in other markets or if the importing country’s industries can produce substitutes. That’s why the US uses the extraterritorial application of Anti-Trust Law to impose sanctions on other countries’ companies and make them pay up to hundreds of millions of dollars as fine …

Last year, China imported $194.6 billion worth of Japanese products, of which electro-mechanic and audio and video equipment accounted for 48 percent; base metal materials and products, 11 percent; vehicles, aircrafts, ships and transportation equipment, 9 percent; and optic, medical apparatus, watches, clocks and musical instruments, 8.6 percent.

Besides, Japan controls more than 70 percent of the global electronic materials’ market. For example, two Japanese companies supply more than half of the world’s semiconductor silicon wafer, a crucial parent material for integrated circuit chips.

It is difficult for China to find substitutes for most of the products it imports from Japan. Under such circumstances, blindly boycotting Japanese goods by giving way to sentiments could harm our own industries and exports, and reduce employment. Before boycotting Japanese goods we have to accelerate the development of China’s advanced manufacturing sector.”

Orrrr launch the supermissiles.

Read more on China, France, America and the world beyond in the latest edition of Carnet Atlantique!

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