What started nearly two weeks ago with the Japanese Coast Guard’s arrest of a Chinese trawler captain in disputed waters has snowballed into a heated diplomatic standoff between China and Japan.
One Sunday, China broke off high-level government contacts with Japan over the extended detention of a fishing boat captain arrested near disputed islands, and threatened additional “strong countermeasures.” The move escalated tense relations and showed China's willingness to play hardball with its Asian rival on issues of territorial integrity.
The move came a day after anti-Japanese protests were held across China on the anniversary of the start of a brutal Japanese invasion of China in 1931 that has historically cast a shadow over ties between the world's second- and third-largest economies.
The captain was arrested earlier this month off the disputed Diaoyu Islands, in the East China Sea, after his vessel crashed into two Japanese patrol boats. He remains in custody, accused of obstructing Japanese public officers while they performed duties.
Commentators see this situation as a test between Japa - the region’s established power and now-fading economic giant - and China - a rising force that feels its time has come to take what it regards as its rightful place in Asia.
China and Japan Escalate Standoff Over Fishing Captain [The New York Times, 19 September 2010]
China halts ministerial-level contacts with Japan [Associated Press, 19 September 2010]
China warns of counter measures in row with Japan [CNN, 19 September 2010]