[BBC] China media: Territorial tensions

8 February 2013 Last updated at 06:08 GMT


The dispute over the islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China often sparks diplomatic tensions

*The dispute over the islands is continuing to draw widespread media coverage

Media and experts in China are blaming Japan for escalating territorial tensions following Tokyo’s accusations of threatening behaviour by the Chinese navy.

Beijing yesterday rejected outright Tokyo’s allegations that the Chinese navy locked weapons-targeting radar onto one of its destroyers and a helicopter in the East China Sea last month, The Beijing News reports.

Global Times accuses Japan of opening a Pandora’s box with its plan to nationalise the disputed Senkaku islands, which are claimed by China as the Diaoyus.

“A full-scale war will almost certainly not break out between China and Japan. But if the two countries start fighting hand to hand, no-one can forecast its extent of escalation and how destructive it will be. The dispute over the Diaoyu Islands has in fact become a battle of wills between China and Japan,” the newspaper’s editorial says.

Prof Su Hao, from the China Foreign Affairs University, also plays down the prospect of a military conflict, but tells Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post that Japan’s radar allegations have hit China’s international image.

“The international community seems to see China as bullying Japan,” Prof Su comments.

Jin Canrong, professor of international relations at Beijing’s Renmin University, tells the Post that Beijing is now “in a more difficult situation in tackling the dispute” because of growing nationalist sentiment in China.

Territorial friction with the Philippines is also making the headlines after Manila’s vow to take “appropriate action” after the Chinese navy completed a combat patrol and drill in disputed waters of the South China Sea, Global Times reports.

Over in Taiwan, Xinhua blasts the chairman of Taiwan’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party, Su Tseng-chang, for “toadying to Japan and selling out Taiwan for personal gain” following his call for Taipei and Tokyo to resolve a fishing dispute around the disputed islands without mainland China.

Mr Su’s suggestion that Taiwan and Tokyo should focus on fishing and avoid the issue of sovereignty over the islands is also under fire from Taipei’s Want Daily,United Daily News and Central Daily News as unfeasible.

The three newspapers instead back Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou’s proposal for Beijing and Taipei to share the islands’ disputed resources with Japan, but never concede on sovereignty over the islands.

Antonio Chiang, a columnist at Taiwan’s Apple Daily, instead criticises Beijing for sending olive branches to the DPP, but then waging a “Cultural Revolution-style denunciation” of “verbal abuse and intimidation” against Mr Su.

Pro-DPP Taipei political commentator Wang Hsing-ching (pen name Nan Fang-shuo), however, believes that Mr Su and the DPP’s forte does not lie in foreign affairs. “I have repeatedly called on the DPP to avoid touching on international affairs, which is not its cup of tea,” he tells South China Morning Post.

Turning to Beijing’s recent pollution woes, Chinese specialist Geng Xin of the Tokyo-based Japan-China Communication Institute tells Global Times that Japan should sort out its own nuclear radiation problems before criticizing pollution in Beijing.

Mr Geng was referring to Japanese embassy secretary Yuta Okazaki reportedly likening the city’s air conditions for residents to “testing on animals”.

However, Beijing is under pressure from the central government to clean up its smoggy air for annual meetings of the national legislature and political advisory body next month, South China Morning Post reports.

In other domestic news, People’s Daily and Xinhua highlight General Secretary Xi Jinping’s calls for the Communist Party to “tolerate sharp criticism” from outside the party during a meeting with non-Communist Party groups on Wednesday.

Xinhua says 70 Tibetans have been detained in Qinghai in a crackdown on a spate of self-immolation protests in the province. Local police says the “clique” of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama “masterminded and incited the self-immolations”.

Lawyer Yang Zaixin tells Southern Metropolis Daily perjury charges were dropped against him on Wednesday, marking a final victory by four defence lawyers to clear their names.

He and three other lawyers were detained in 2011 on perjury charges in a murder trial in Behai, Guangxi, after their clients claimed they had confessed to the crime after being tortured.

And finally, Sina news portal shares an amusing clip of a half-naked little boy appearing on camera while Vice-Premier Li Keqiang was in the home of shantytown residents in Inner Mongolia this week.

Internet users praise China Central Television for featuring footage of the boy jumping out of a bedroom wardrobe without underwear and then accidentally exposing his buttocks when diving for cover under a blanket.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.



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