Where to now Senkaku-Diaoyu?

by Chris Zappone

I have heard anecdotally that after the leadership change in China, there would be less incentive to keep tensions high around the Senkaku-Diaoyu Island dispute – at least from the Chinese side. That doesn’t exactly mean the tensions will be easing.

This Kyodo News item from a few days ago shows the US and Japan making preparations for “Senkaku contingencies.”

Japan and the United States have started mapping out joint operation plans to prepare for any contingency arising from conflicting claims between Tokyo and Beijing over the Senkaku Islands, sources close to Japan-U.S. ties said Thursday.

Let’s hope, and it’s entirely possible, that the contingencies are for a protocol, or possibility of a de-escalation should a clash occur. Looks like it will be up to the US and Japan on this count, as the Chinese don’t have a great wish for multilaterialism. They said as much in the recently concluded Xi Jinping- Vladimir Putin talks.

As per Global Times 

On the Asia-Pacific situation, the two countries said it is a primary task for the region to build a security and cooperation framework that features openness, transparency, equality and inclusiveness.

They added that it is necessary to encourage relevant countries in the region to properly settle their disputes through bilateral dialogues and negotiations.

That is “bilateral” not “multilateral.” I.e. China-Japan, China-Vietnam. Not China-Japan-US. Or China-Vietnam-ASEAN. etc.