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Posted by on Apr 15, 2005 in At TMV | 0 comments

China Tries To Cool Heightened China-Japan Tensions Over Gas Drilling

Like a ghost from the past, Chinese-Japanese tensions — so prevelent during certain parts the 20th century — have resurfaced with a vengence…as China begins what some see as an effort to cool an increasingly heated situation down.

For instance, ABC News reports:

BEIJING Apr 15, 2005 — China criticized Japan for allowing gas drilling in a disputed seabed but tried Thursday to defuse mounting tensions, saying it was calling on the Chinese public to avoid extremism after violent anti-Japanese protests.

Japan’s prime minister called for dialogue with Beijing to settle the sea dispute, which erupted after a crowd stoned the Japanese Embassy in Beijing in a weekend protest over Tokyo’s wartime past and its bid for a permanent U.N. Security Council seat.

“China is trying to cool down the people and appealed (to) them to avoid extreme activities,” the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing comments by a Chinese diplomat in a meeting with envoys from Japan and South Korea.

Anticipating another weekend of rowdy anti-Japanese protests, police in Shanghai sent text messages Thursday to residents’ cell phones, saying demonstrations must receive official permission and be orderly.

“According to law, marches must obtain permission. The masses, in expressing their warm patriotic sentiments, must be orderly, rational and law abiding,” the brief message said.

The conciliatory comments come after Japan’s decision Wednesday to allow gas drilling in the East China Sea was criticized as a provocation by China, which said it might take steps in response.

How serious is it? Serious enough that the U.S. has issued a warning to its citizens:

The U.S. Embassy called on its citizens to be on guard, saying there were unconfirmed calls to stageprotests this weekend in Beijing, nearby Tianjin, Shanghai, northeastern Shenyang, southernGuangzhou and Dongguan and southwestern Chengdu.

Shanghai is the financial hub of China and headquarters of many Japanese businesses.

“Because of the fluid nature of such events, American citizens travelling in China should be alert fordemonstrations and or marches occurring at other times and locations without prior warning,” a U.S.embassy e-mail said.

“The demonstrations are purportedly against Japanese interests, but could involve foreigners ingeneral.”

Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been trying to get both sides to cool it, as well:

“I think the two countries, I hope, will maintain their contacts, and they have a whole series of contests — commercial, financial, political, and all this,” Annan said on Thursday.

“And I hope this issue will be handled in a manner that will not escalate. I rely on the wisdom of the two countries to find a way out.”

The Asahi Weekly, published from the Silicon Valley, warns:

Japan-China relations have become increasingly strained over Japan’s bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and Japanese school textbooks. Since this is a politically sensitive time, Japan should be careful not to invite misunderstanding.

In particular, it must not mislead China into thinking Japan is advancing the test-drilling move to counter anti-Japanese demonstrations in China. The procedure falls in line with what Japan has been telling the Chinese side and should be dealt with calmly and separately from political discord. Japan needs to provide a proper explanation so that China can understand its real intentions. …

The two countries should stop criticizing and slapping at each other over every problem between them. If nationalism grows out of control on both sides, it would simply cause much damage and give international society the impression that Japan and China are immature countries.

Both sides should cool their heads and start making efforts to build a mature relationship from which everyone can benefit.

Meanwhile, an excellent roundup of world opinion can be found via Tom Regan at The Christian Science Monitor.

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