A dispute over a chain of islands in Asia between China and Japan has been heating up and may even lead to war, but the backdrop of the conflict is really between the United States and China.
“There is a danger of China and Japan having a military conflict,” Yan Xuetong, one of China’s most influential foreign policy strategists told the Telegraph. “One country must make a concession. But I do not see Japan making concessions. I do not see either side making concessions.”
The US role in this and various other Asian territorial disputes is not one of a neutral player trying to avoid escalation. Rather, the US has pursued an aggressive posture of expanding military assets in the region and teaming up with all of China’s neighboring rivals to side with them on territorial issues in a nationalistic scheme to block China’s rise as a world power.
Importantly, the US and Japan have a long-lasting deal that any fight Japan is confronted with, America will be there to help.
“I do not think [the US] will send soldiers to fight against the People’s Liberation Army,” Xuetong said. “They will be involved, but they can be involved in many different ways, providing intelligence, ammunition, political support, logistical help and so on.”
“In terms of the economy, China and the US are partners. But in terms of security, they are rivals. We both know we cannot get along. Both sides are always alert to the other’s military policy,” he said.
“In the future, the military relationship will become more important. There is a simple reason for this: American hegemony is based on military capability and the military gap with China. When China narrows that gap, it will scare the US,” Xuetong said.
“Signs of a potential harsh reaction are already detectable,” a recent CSIS report said. “The US Asia pivot has triggered an outpouring of anti-American sentiment in China that will increase pressure on China’s incoming leadership to stand up to the United States. Nationalistic voices are calling for military countermeasures to the bolstering of America’s military posture in the region and the new US defense strategic guidelines.”