原文标题：As dispute over islands escalates, Japan and China send fighter jets to scene
BEIJING: The action in the skies over the East China Sea started simply enough. Last week, the Chinese government sent a civilian surveillance plane, a twin propeller aircraft, to fly near the uninhabited islands at the heart of a growing feud between China and Japan.
Tokyo, in response, ordered F-15 fighter jets to take a look at what it considered Chinese meddling. The Chinese then sent their own fighters.
It was the first time that supersonic Chinese and Japanese military fighters were in the air together since the dispute over the islands erupted last year, significantly increasing the risk of a mistake that could lead to armed conflict at a time when both countries, despite their mutual economic interests, are going through a period of heightened nationalism that recalls their longstanding regional rivalry.
The escalation comes amid a blast of belligerent discourse in China and as the Obama administration has delayed a visit to Washington requested by Shinzo Abe, the new prime minister of Japan, the United States' main ally in Asia. After the rebuff, Abe announced that he would embark on a tour of Southeast Asia intended to counter China's influence in the region. On Friday, as Abe cut short his trip to return to Tokyo to deal with the hostage crisis in Algeria, secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton said in Washington that Abe would meet with President Obama in the second half of February.
For Japan and China, what began as a seemingly minor dispute is quickly turning into a gathering storm, military analysts and western diplomatic officials warn, as each country appears determined to force the other to give ground.
"What is really driving things is raw nationalism and fragmented political systems, both on the Japanese and even more so the Chinese sides, that is preventing smart people from making rational decisions," said Thomas Berger, an associate professor of international relations at Boston University. "No Chinese or Japanese leader wants or can afford to be accused of selling out their country."
The backdrop for the dispute is the changing military and economic dynamic in the region. In Japan, which rose from utter defeat in World War II to become a prosperous global economic power, many experts talk of a nation preparing for an "elegant" decline. But Abe has made clear that he does not subscribe to that idea and hopes to stake out a tough posture on the islands as a way of engineering a Japanese comeback.
In contrast, Beijing brims with confidence, reveling in the belief that the 21st century belongs to China — with the return of the islands the Chinese call the Diaoyu and the Japanese refer to as the Senkaku as a starting point.
Though Japan is far richer than China on a per-person basis, its economy has been stagnant for years and contracted once again in the second half of 2012. It was hit hard by a slowdown in exports to China after the island dispute erupted in August; Chinese protesters disrupted Japanese plants in China and boycotted Japanese products during the autumn. The value of Japanese exports to China fell by 17 per cent between June and November, the World Bank said this week.
China's fast-growing military still lags behind the Japanese self-defence forces in sophistication of weaponry and training, but Japan's edge is diminishing, according to Dr Berger, an expert on the Japanese military, and other western defence analysts.
For now the Chinese military wants to avoid armed conflict over the islands, Dr Berger said, but its longer-term goal is to pressure Japan to give up its administration of the islands. That would give China a break in what is known in China as the "first island chain," a string including the Diaoyu, that prevents China's growing ballistic submarine fleet from having unobserved access to the Pacific Ocean. Taiwan is part of the "first island chain," as are smaller islands controlled by Vietnam and the Philippines.
"The Chinese leadership seems to think that the cards are in their favor, and if they push long and hard enough, the Japanese have to cave," Dr Berger said.
A senior American military official said that Washington considered China's decision to send its fighter jets in response to Japan's to be "imprudent" but not a violation of international law. The Chinese jets had entered what is known as Japan's air defence identity zone, but had not infringed Japan's airspace, the official said.
The United States was watching closely and advising restraint on both sides, because there is no established method of communication — or hot line — between Japan and China that can be used in the event of a confrontation. With jet fighters from both countries aloft last week, "the potential for mistakes that could have broader consequences" was vastly increased, the official said.
The Chinese state-run news media have stepped up their hawkish tone since the episode. On Abe's trip to Southeast Asia, which the Chinese say is intended to create a pro-Japan alliance, the overseas edition of People's Daily newspaper said, "Even the United States, the world's sole superpower, acknowledged that it cannot encircle and contain China, so why should Japan?"
Chinese experts express similar views. In an interview, Hu Lingyuan, the deputy director of the Center for Japanese Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, described Abe as a Japanese nationalist who was trying to overextend Japan's reach. "The Diaoyu conflict keeps escalating," he said. "A solution is not possible." And as the commentary became harsher, the Chinese news media stressed reports of training by the military's East China Sea units. Dozens of J-10 fighter jets participated in a live ammunition drill with the navy's East China Sea fleet, the state run news agency, Xinhua, reported Thursday.
Before returning to Japan, Abe spoke to reporters in Jakarta, Indonesia. He said he opposed "changing the status quo by force," and called on China to behave in a responsible manner.
"The seas is a public asset that should not be governed by force but by rule of law that keeps it freely open to all," he said. "We will work with Asean nations to do our utmost to defend this."
With a top United States diplomat, Kurt M Campbell, in Tokyo this week, Washington is urging both sides to open a dialogue.
But the initial signs are not particularly promising. On Thursday, a former Japanese prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama of the opposition Democratic Party, met in Beijing with Jia Qinglin, the chairman of the national committee of the Chinese People's political consultative conference.
The setting looked conciliatory. China, however, used the occasion to make a point that was immediately rejected in Tokyo. Jia called for talks with Japan over the disputed islands, an idea that Japan has always said was unacceptable. Japanese governments have consistently maintained that the islands rightfully belong to Japan and that there is nothing to discuss.
sachin jog (Dombivli)
China is claiming Senkaku island from Japan,Arunachal Pradesh from India, Spratly Islands existing between Philipines and Vietnam.. Well, it seems world powers are unable to stop China's advances..The world should unite and support Japan to put China in its place.
Agree (65)Disagree (4)Recommend (38)
Japs are great fighters.Even their last man doesnot surrender.They are not indians.Only indians can be beheaded.Our leadership is enjoying and celebrating with fire works at jaipur.great pm.
Agree (41)Disagree (2)Recommend (22)
This is India's chance to show solidarity towards Japan. This will teach china to behave itself and will realize that its bullying tactics cannot be acceptable in the eyes of the world. But out impotent gov. willdo nothing as usual even in the light of china openly and publicly lean towards Porkistan.
Agree (41)Disagree (19)Recommend (15)
Alan in wonderland (wonderland)
China is trying to wake up a sleeping giant. japs are very tough dont underestimate them.
Agree (33)Disagree (2)Recommend (12)
Support Japan and make china know that it is not a super power and can do anything
Agree (22)Disagree (5)Recommend (12)
maalolan (Planet Earth)
China is by nature an aggressive nation. Right time to cut its waging tail both militarily and economically.
Agree (19)Disagree (4)Recommend (9)
Sumit Singh (Agra, Uttar Pradesh)
America will be the clear winner if war takes place between china and japan asboth countries economis will shrink and thus the dollar will become stron america will sell japan military equipments and earn huge profits in return this war will reinstate the supremacy of america and chinas dream of becoming a superpower will be in shatters
Agree (26)Disagree (1)Recommend (8)
Japan must teach a lesson once again to China. I wish India to do the same.
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JC Patel (USA)
I am so happy Japan is standing up against China. China has been bullying all her neighbors including India. India should extend all the support to Japan.
Agree (23)Disagree (4)Recommend (6)
the chinese have still not leartn a lesson from the japs they are same as the pakis
Agree (11)Disagree (4)Recommend (6)
I think this may be the right time to take back our lands from china................. India should form stretegic alliance with Japan, S. Korea, Myanmar, taiwan and philipines to finish chinese hegemony in Asian region.
Agree (17)Disagree (4)Recommend (6)
A rising nation (China) and a phiniex(Japan) fighting each other. Who will win the battle. I think the phiniex would and should as they are not a threat to us but the former is.
Agree (11)Disagree (4)Recommend (5)
The rachetting up of tension over this issue is worrisome.This is how wars start. Neither China nor Japan are in a position to control the situation once it gets out control.These countries are not like India.They have national pride.
Agree (9)Disagree (0)Recommend (5)
raj sharma (delhi)
China and pakistan are one and same both looking to grab land of others by evil methods, time that world especially India stands out and help Japan, wonder when India will start behaving like a powerful country
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Babu Majumder (New Delhi, India)
we shud invade china when they go into war with Japan,we shud grab some land inside china and later we can claim that the land belong to us.
Agree (4)Disagree (2)Recommend (4)
bmcowl (planet earth)
China is bound to become the greatest headache for the whole world. The US is blind to the imperial designs of China that calls itself the Middle Kingdom. The US needs a shift in strategic policy to counter China via an alliance with India and Japan, and possibly Russia.
Agree (16)Disagree (3)Recommend (4)
Hope that the Chinese will cross the line, and get their heads promptly bashed in, just like in the past wars of the 20th century, and 19th century, and 18th century, and 17th century.... they have never won any war in their entire cowardly history against Japanese!
Agree (14)Disagree (3)Recommend (4)
thinking of what the japanese did when they entered china in the second world war. the amount of human massacre and torture they did on the chinese, i think japan owes an apology to them. i can understand the chinese sentiment here.
Agree (3)Disagree (10)Recommend (3)
When will India learn to grow a spine and support Japan... there was an article in the newspaper today which suggested india should play neutral , but that is horsecrap and india should immediately side with japan on this issue.
Agree (17)Disagree (2)Recommend (3)
nityansh insaner (india)
what's going on with asian countries ??? india fights pak...japan fights china....china fights india... why cant we just live together like europeans ??
Agree (3)Disagree (3)Recommend (3)
Both China and Japan need to step back. It is ridiculous for them to be fighting for these tiny island. It is easy to start a war but almost impossible to stop it unless one of the parties is grievously damaged. In any case both will suffer serious damage . Rest of world will also be severely affected if they engage in war.
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hail japan , 1 nation to rise against china in asia
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Satpal Jabbal (UK)
Japan, another future profitable market for American Arms Industry ?
Agree (18)Disagree (1)Recommend (3)
Japanese have the firepower to give China a lesson here......Come on Japan...
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Pistol Smith (Near Outer Solar System)
japanese air force is their strong point >>>. not too many can withstand the aggression of the F15 eagles of the Japanese >>>> far superior
Agree (9)Disagree (2)Recommend (2)
nityansh insaner (india)
japan even shook U.S by attacking on pearl harbour.. they have even beaten russia....... they can trouble china as well...
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imran pak (City of Lahore)
Japs and India are both coward nations.
Agree (7)Disagree (24)Recommend (2)
Great Britian (GREAT BRITIAN)
Indian love saying oh US should teach PAK a lesson. Oh Japan should teach china a lesson. Shame on you folks. What can u do??? Mongols raped u. Moughals ruled u for 300 yrs. n we Brits ruled u for 150 yr. still ur are underdeveloped 60% don't have toilets.
Agree (9)Disagree (12)Recommend (2)
Raj (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
China, in the last century, has invaded and occupied Inner Mongolia, Machuria and Tibet, which has more than doubled her size. China is illegally occupying parts of Kashmir and also invaded and briefly occupied Vietnam in 1979. Now China is also eyeing for the Spratley islands in the South China Sea and now Senkaku. China seems to be claiming more territories than any other nation and continues to have territorial disputes with almost all her neighbours. Nothing seem to stop her from claiming rivers, basins, hill crests, mountains, plains, seas, islands and natural resources. So, who is the bully?
Agree (22)Disagree (5)Recommend (2)
Dinesh Prabhakar (delhi)
China too knows very well US stands with Japan, so all this is drama for Chinese government to remain popular inside the China!
Agree (7)Disagree (0)Recommend (2)
Ramesh Sargam (Bangalore, India)
Instead of fighting for small piece of land, both China and Japan can grow potatoes and tomatoes and share the profits. Why unnecessary fighting? May look sarcastic, but not. I am serious with my suggestion.
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