China Warns US of Rising Japanese Nationalism

May 2, 2013Asiaby EW News Desk Team

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China’s ambassador to the United States on Wednesday said that while Washington is concerned about stability in region, a rise in Japanese nationalism is counterproductive and hinted that Washington should not offer Japan encouragement in its disputes with China over the uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, called Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China, which lie atop possibly large energy reserves.

In his first direct remarks on the territorial dispute, Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the U.S., said China was not oblivious to the “negative trend” of right-wing intentions in Japanese politics and warned Washington not to “drop a stone on its feet” by meddling in the escalating spat between Beijing and Tokyo.

Related: The China-Japan Rivalry Renewed: Will Asia's Geopolitical Balance Shift Once Again?

Last week, Beijing denounced a visit by Japanese lawmakers and officials to Tokyo's controversial Yasukuni shrine, which glorifies Japan's wartime past. Japanese media outlets say Abe and his entourage did not visit the shrine but instead sent a ritual offering during the pilgrimage over the weekend.

"What kind of message does this send to the international community?" Cui was cited as saying in a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday. "All of these kinds of acts have attracted a lot of attention from international public opinion, and I believe that the U.S. cannot not know about this."

"The U.S. side should stay alert against the recent provocative actions taken by Japanese political leaders," Cui added.

Beijing is of the opinion that it is Japan who is “clearly” acting provocatively over the islands, not China, the ambassador said.

“We hope that other parties do not lift up rocks for the Japanese, and we hope even more that these rocks don’t end up falling on their own feet,” Cui said, alluding to United States’ inherent support for Japan.

Cui also expressed hope that "Washington will avoid sacrificing its long-term benefits for immediate short-term needs on the issue of the Diaoyu Islands".

Lin Xiaoguang, an international relations specialist at the Central Party School, said Cui's remarks indicated Beijing was contemplating action should Japan and the U.S. get closer.

"Cui is sending a warning to the U.S. that Washington may get short-term gains if it contains China with Japan, but eventually it will lose," he said. "China is telling the U.S. that it will not just sit and do nothing."

On Monday, U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said "the United States does not take a position on the ultimate sovereignty of the islands, but we do recognise they are under the administration of Japan and fall under our security treaty obligations.”

Hagel added that the United States "opposes any unilateral course of action that seeks to undermine Japan's administrative control" of the tiny islands.

Jia Xiudong, a senior researcher at the China Institute of International Studies, said Cui made a "very straightforward" statement that Washington can easily understand.

"The pivot of the ties is how Washington handles sensitive issues such as the Diaoyu Islands and Taiwan. The direction of China-U.S. ties depends on whether the U.S. wants to convey positive energy or just look to make trouble and contain China."

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