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    Chinese naval vessels participate in a drill on the East China Sea, China, August 1, 2016. Picture taken August 1, 2016

    Economic Power for China, Security for Japan: Academic on Islands Dispute

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    After maneuvers of Chinese vessels in the disputed East China Sea areas last week, Tokyo filed a formal complaint to Beijing. Dr. Stephen Nagy, senior associate professor of politics and international studies at the International Christian University and distinguished fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation discussed the issue with Radio Sputnik.

    Sputnik: What about the importance of the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands for both China and Japan? Perhaps you could share your knowledge of the strategic importance of these particular islands and why Japan is getting so emotive about it?

    Stephen Nagy: These particular islands claims cover the first island chains, the first series of islands that basically open up to the Pacific Ocean. So from the Chinese point of view these islands represent a choke point, the choke point first starts in north of Japan… and each one of these islands has an exclusive economic zone that can be exploited in the sense of resources and fishery etc. Which mean that if we look at Japan on paper and we think about all its maritime territories that are represented by exclusive economic zones. It means Japan has a lot of different territories it can exploit in terms of resources making Japan really on paper a much bigger country, a country that can exploit a lot more resources to fill its economy, to fill its national development. So, again, I think it represents a security element from the Japanese point of view, but also an economic opportunity and resource opportunity. And from China's point of view it represents the future, where they can expand their naval power and political and economic influence going forward.

    READ MORE: Japan Accuses China of Encroaching on Disputed Islands with Warships, Submarines

    A group of disputed islands, Uotsuri island (top), Minamikojima (bottom) and Kitakojima, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China is seen in the East China Sea (File)
    © REUTERS / Kyodo
    A group of disputed islands, Uotsuri island (top), Minamikojima (bottom) and Kitakojima, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China is seen in the East China Sea (File)

    Sputnik: Historically the East and South China Seas have developed many issues in terms of conflicts and tensions. What's your best prognosis for this issue to be settled amicably?

    Stephen Nagy: Well, I think what might happen in the short to midterm as a status quo. China will continue to push the envelope… to push back against Japan's sovereignty claims on a legal basis. But again I think that going forward and looking at Chinese strategies going forward it's clear that China would like to be regional hegemony, would like to have unequivocal control of the South China Sea, unequivocal control of the East China Sea and this means that China will be able to project its power, control sea lanes, control resources, control fishery resources. From the Chinese point of view this is about security, thinking that hundred and fifty years of history, hundred and fifty years of humiliation under imperial powers. From the Chinese point of view, the control over these areas will prevent any kind of repeat of that sad historical experience. And again they are facing Japan and Japan has an expanding economy, considerate capabilities and a lot of friends within the region. And Japan views China's control of both East and South China Seas as a threat to its national security. […] 

    READ MORE: China Urges Japan to Avoid 'Artificial' Incidents Near Disputed Islands

    The views and opinions expressed by Dr. Stephen Nagy are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Tags:
    energy resources, disputed territories, disputed islands, disputed waters, natural resources, economy, East China Sea, Asia-Pacific, South China Sea, China, Japan, Senkaku Islands
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