Tokyo (AsiaNews) - The dispute over the sovereignty of the archipelago of the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands is increasingly taking on the contours of an economic war between China and Japan, which could affect the entire world economy. Despite the warnings and requests from various international financial institutions, Tokyo and Beijing do not seem to want to close the issue.
The celebration of the 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries has not helped to find an agreement between the two Asian powers. Hong Lei, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry stressed today that "China will continue to patrol the waters around the islands" that Beijing calls "Diaoyu" and Tokyo "Senkaku".
Yesterday four Chinese combat ships entered the disputed waters to "oppose the intrusion by right-wing Japanese and are working in the area in normal activities to safeguard the rights of the Chinese people on the archipelago." The "right-wing Japanese" are some activists who, in recent days, have landed on some portions of the disputed land.
Hong then asked, "What is the reason for repeatedly causing problems in the Diaoyu, especially when China and Japan are engaging in intense consultations on this issue? Why is the Japanese government maintaining an indulgent attitude towards them?". For its part, Tokyo claims sovereignty over the lands - which according to Japanese law belong to the Prefecture of Okinawa - and has stated that it "does not intend" to control the free movement of its citizens.
In addition to the military risk, this continuous exchange of provocations is affecting bilateral economic relations in an decisive manner. The giants of the Chinese economy - including the "BIg Four", the mega state-owned companies operating in the energy and banking sectors - have decided to boycott the next summit convened in Tokyo by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
The number one of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, called on China and Japan to "loosen the diplomatic tensions related to land disputes, because the shaky world economy needs the two Asian giants for sustainable economic growth." China and Japan, she added, "are key factors in the economy and cannot be distracted by territorial disputes. The current state of the global economy requires a total commitment on the part of China and Japan."
The value of the archipelago is not clear. It is believed that it has above all a strategic value, as it is located along the most important shipping routes, others argue that in addition to the rich fishing waters, in the marine subsoil there are endless gas fields. In 2008, as a gesture of detente, the two governments signed an agreement for the exploitation and joint research on the archipelago, which, however, has remained a dead letter.