Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Strange Spat

Border disputes between countries are not uncommon, so the current spat between China and Japan is hardly a surprise. The spat began when a Chinese fishing trawler was spotted by Japanese patrol boats near an island chain in the East China Sea claimed by both countries.

The Chinese vessel then made a run for it and in an incident that only happened in a movie, the Chinese trawler and the Japanese patrol boats engaged in a high-sea chase. Refusing to stop, the Chinese trawler rammed into two Japanese patrol vessels before finally stopping. The incident has sparked the worst row between the two Asian giants in years, made worse by the fact that Taiwan also has a claim in the area as there are possible oil and gas deposits there.

Japan has released the trawler and the crew but detained the boat captain, Zhan Qixiong, as they believed he intentionally rammed his trawler into the two Japanese patrol vessels. China reacted to this by suspending high-level exchanges between the two countries and even stopping tickets sales of Japanese boyband SMAP.

Personally I find the dispute a little strange. Pride and face always played a large part in Asia but the dispute is basically on a boat captain who is accused of intentionally ramming his trawler into two Japanese patrol vessels. An accusation that no one is disputing!

I find this beyond strange, right into the realm of the ridiculous! I have not heard of a single Chinese official who has come out to say the captain is innocent so I think it’s fair to say even they believed that the ramming was intentional. If that’s the case, what’s the problem?

To be fair, China has the better claim on the disputed islands but no matter who the islands truly belong to, the fact is that this captain ram his trawler into TWO Japanese patrol boats! That’s plain wrong and Japan has more than a right to detain him. I mean if the situation is reserved, would China had done any differently? The answer is obvious to all.

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