The Intensification of Political and Intellectual Confrontation Since 2012Case Study 1: Sino-Japanese Confrontation in 2012 over the Diaoyu/Senkaku DisputeCase Study 2: China’s Announcement of ADIZ and Abe’s Yasukuni Visit
This chapter first traces the evolution of strategic thoughts and mutual perception in both China and Japan after 2012 against the background of China and the US establishing a new type of Great Power relations and the intensifying Sino–US geopolitical competition. Yun Zhang then examines the case of the increasingly dangerous confrontation after Japan’s nationalization of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in 2012, which further solidified mutual misperception between China and Japan. Why did Japan decide to nationalize the islands despite being aware of the serious consequences? Why has China shown unprecedented resolve in dealing with Japan by frequently deploying coastguard vessels in the surrounding waters and by claiming sovereignty through legal arguments and establishing an Air-Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea? It was also impossible to conceive that Abe did not predict China’s strong reactions toward his Yasukuni visit in 2013. This chapter seeks to demonstrate that a trilateral perspective is vital for answering these questions. The US has been a crucial factor. The dynamic adjustment in US–China relations over the past several years is the primary variable in China’s approach to dealing with these disputes, which seems to have replaced Taiwan as the litmus test for US–China strategic intentions and military capabilities in the Western Pacific. Interestingly, Japan also has reasons to use the dispute as a litmus test for the US–Japan alliance in a period of relative US decline. After reviewing the latest development of seeming Sino–Japanese détente since 2014, Yun Zhang finally assesses the possibilities of a new pattern of interaction among the two countries.