Commenting in the Financial Times on Asia’s territorial disputes and increasingly angry nationalism, Gideon Rachman, a highly experienced political commentator, argues that rather than risk war over shoals and goats, all sides should submit to arbitration. “Keep the lid on Pandora’s box,” he warns, “or Asia will pay dearly.”
This follows from a bout of recent aggravations including: a near collision between Chinese fighter jets and a Japanese surveillance aircraft; a physical confrontation between Vietnamese and Chinese vessels in the South China Sea, the first since the two nations went to war in 1979; and North Korea firing shells at a South Korean ship and threatening a fourth nuclear test.
Gideon posits that Pandora’s box appears to be creaking open because the rapid rise of a richer and more powerful China – which has now overtaken the Japanese economy in size and by some measures has a larger economy than the US itself – has allowed for “increased military spending” whilst becoming “more assertive about longstanding territorial claims.”
He goes on to warn that “if conflict does eventually break out, it may rank as among the most senseless in history (and there is plenty of competition).”
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