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On Saturday China's Defense Ministry released a statement that it was creating an "air defense zone" around the Senkaku islands to protect its sovereign territory. Included with the statement was the map shown above. Looking at the area indicated China claims a vast majority of the East China sea.
This dispute involving these small islands came to a boil last year when the Japanese government concluded a purchase agreement with the islands private owners and nationalized them.
Japan has held the Senkaku islands since 1895 and they were considered to of little importance. In the early 1970's several test wells were drilled which indicated their might be an abundance of natural gas beneath the waters surrounding the islands. Even though China along with Taiwan issued claims for the islands both governments never actively sought control over them.
Yet, as previously stated that changed with the Japanese governments purchase of the islands and all hell broke lose. Suddenly these island for which China had shown little interest became a national obsession leading to mass demonstrations and attacks on Japanese business interests in China.
In a tough statement reflecting the surprise and alarm felt in Washington and Tokyo at China's perceived sudden escalation of the dispute, Chuck Hagel, defence secretary, said the US was "deeply concerned" at the development, in which China appears to be trying to control who can enter and leave the area.
The imposition of the zone was a "destabilising attempt to alter the status quo in the region", Hagel said. "This unilateral action increases the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculations ... We are in close consultation with our allies and partners in the region, including Japan. We remain steadfast in our commitments."
The statement from China which was released by Xinhua.
Xinhua claimed the "air zone could contribute to regional peace and security by curbing the increasing rampancy of Japan's right-wing forces, as well as the continuous and dangerous provocations of Japanese politicians, which even Washington should be vigilant against".
The statement was an apparent reference to Shinzo Abe, Japan's
As the tensions increase and both countries military's are drawn further into the conflict along will it take before one side misinterprets the intentions of the other and shots are fired. While that is probably an extreme outcome the possibility exists simply because people make mistakes.