China wages quiet war of maps with neighbours
Washington: China has been waging a quiet campaign, using ancient documents, academic research, maps and technical data to bolster its territorial claims in the East China Sea. According to the Washington Post, China’s
attention to maps and other documents has intensified, which has brought a spats of a new kind.
The most recent began shortly after Christmas when a Japanese publication posted what it claimed was a 1950 Chinese government document unearthed in China’s own archives calling the disputed islands by their Japanese name, implying that Beijing then regarded the islands as Japanese, the report said.
China’s embassy in Japan sidestepped the question of the document’s authenticity, saying that “even if the document exists, it won’t change the consistent position of the Chinese government.” According to the report, the embassy later dismissed the whole thing as a “Japanese attempt to support their wrong stance with an anonymous reference document.”
But just weeks after, with little explanation, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs shut down access to a large portion of its archival documents. A staffer at the archive last week said that the closure was ‘due to an upgrading of the system’, but was unable to say when the work would be complete.
The bitter feud between China and Japan over a handful of rocky outcroppings may seem frivolous. But the fight carries great weight domestically for both countries — and huge implications for the United States. According to the report, if the military bluster and threats continue, US diplomats and experts fear, it could lead to a military miscalculation and, in the worst case, an actual war that could draw in the United States, as an treaty-bound ally of Japan.
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