22 May 2019
Japan is shaping up as China’s chief rival in the disputed South China Sea because it has a sustained, multi-pronged approach and a unique set of reasons to test Beijing’s growing influence, analysts say.
“Under (Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo) Abe, Tokyo has enhanced defense and security engagements in Southeast Asia, not least with the South China Sea in mind,” said Collin Koh, maritime security research fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. “I believe Beijing will…be concerned about Japan using the South China Sea.”
Japan’s activity is unlikely to stop China from operating in the sea’s Paracel Islands, a chain it has controlled since the 1970s, or militarizing three major islets in the Spratly archipelago, scholars have said. But they say the activity may help deter China from taking more islets claimed by other countries.
“China will reverse the argument to say ‘you all are militarizing the South China Sea, not me, and I think they will just play that game and not do anything further,” said Alan Chong, associate professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
CMS / IDSS / Online
Last updated on 23/05/2019