Posted September. 25, 2010 10:48,
The Japanese government announced Friday that it would release of a Chinese fishing boat captain who was arrested for ramming his vessel on Sept. 7 into a Japanese patrol ship around the Senkaku Islands, which the Chinese call the Diaoyu Islands. Japanese prosecutors said the captain is apparently suspected of committing the crime but decided to "shelve the decision" in consideration of Japan-China relations and the possible impact on the Japanese people. A Dong-A Ilbo editorial Wednesday urged the two countries to calm down and cooperate, saying, "An accident that occurred in a disputed territory should not escalate into a struggle to gain regional hegemony between the two powers." Many in Japan are protesting the captain`s release, but conflict between China and Japan has passed a crisis situation at least for now.
Senkaku, over which Japan, China and Taiwan all claim terrestrial sovereignty, are effectively controlled by Japan. China, which denies Japan`s territorial rights to the islands, has used far-reaching and hard-line offenses against Japan day after day, demanding the unconditional release of the captain. On Tokyo`s offer of a meeting of ranking officials, Beijing only insisted on a hard-line stance, saying, "We can never make a concession over a sovereignty issue." Japan was indirectly assisted by the U.S. but effectively surrendered to Chinese pressure in consideration of the potential negative impact on its economy and other fears.
The latest incident attests to how powerful and internationally influential China has become. Seeing tremendous economic development over the past three decades, China has surpassed Japan to become the world`s second-largest economy. China has consolidated its status as a G2 nation along with the U.S. and is expected to surpass the U.S. around 2025 to 2030 to become the world`s largest economy. Apparently because of this confidence, Beijing gave up its principle of separating politics and diplomacy from economy in this incident and aggressively pressured Tokyo. China considers the U.S. a nation of unilateral supremacy but China seems to want to become the same thing.
In his speech to the U.N. General Assembly Thursday, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said, "China is still a developing country whose per capita GDP is only a tenth of that of advanced nations," in an apparent gesture to dispel growing global vigilance against his country. Given its quality of life, human rights and freedom of the press, China cannot be seen as a true superpower. In competition among nations, however, what matters more is the size of the overall economy rather than per capita GDP.
If China finds cause to pressure Korea and imposes economic sanctions, the Korean economy, which is ever more dependent on China for growth, could suffer a negative impact. Korea needs to continue raising its economic prowess, diversify its trade and trading partners, and lower its excessive dependence on China. China is raising its voice in the international community by banking on its prowess in economy and independent diplomacy in line with its philosophy of "a giant nation" and "Sinocentric ideology." This should send a clear and powerful signal to Korea to remain more vigilant. Justice not backed by power will be virtually meaningless.