All the western press seems to be surprised by the intensity of disputes between China and Taiwan on one side and Japan on the other side. These disputes relate to an uninhabited archipelago in the South China Sea. The archipelago is rather hideous and moreover very small. It is a rich source of fish and it may hide a more substantial fossil wealth under the ocean floor.
However, this doesn´t seem to be a sufficient cause of war between two great powers and one strong and modern army to it. Unless the islands hide a treasure valued more than fish and petrol by China. In the end these rocks may well weight more than the entire Tsushima island on the counter of international politics.
If there´s something obvious about the Chinese activists from both the Chinas (the People´s Republic ashore and the Chinese Republic, better known as Taiwan) it is the fact that they usually bear both the flags at once. Although the USA, much like most of the world, officially recognize the People´s Republic and not the other one, all the years it has been the Americans who were guaranteeing Taiwan´s security from its mighty neighbour, who doesn´t even consider Taiwan to be its neighbouring nation but a seccesionist province.
It is also the Americans who guarantee the security of Japan regarding the proportion of its forces to those of the very same mighty neighbour. In the framework of the contemporary archipelago crisis things come out very fortunately for China. The Americans instantly oppose the Taiwanese interests and these interests must, at least in a way, rely on the continental Chinese power. At least regarding the common Sino-Chinese interest in the sovereignity shift on the islands.
If there will be a war or a skirmish, the Americans will be very content for sure that it will probably pass quickly enough, so that they won´t be able to take part in it. Their guarantees will be most likely rather rhetoric considering the weight ratio of these rocks in the American scope. If the arms remain silent, the outcome will be similar.
In any case it will be China who will enforce its will regardless of the USA. The bets in this game are much higher than the Diaoyu islands which may be well left for Taiwan to seize or forgotten completely like so many pawns. Anyway, the Red Dragon doesn´t pick pebbles from the sea for nothing.
published: 30. 9. 2012