China and Escalation over the Senkaku Islands

In a recent article for a new journal, Global Summitry, I examine China’s behavior in the dispute with Japan over the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands. Before 2010, China adopted a low-key approach to the dispute. After 2010, however, China chose to escalate the dispute, first in response to Japan’s detention of a Chinese fishing vessel in [...]

China, Japan, and the U.S.—Will Cooler Heads Prevail?

I joined the conversation over the Asia Society's ChinaFile on tensions between the China, the United States and Japan. Specifically, I addressed a question “will China attempt to take the Senkakus by force?” Let me pick up on Isaac’s first question, “will China attempt to take the Senkakus by force?” Iain Johnston and I recently analyzed data on the frequency [...]

Chinese signaling in the East China Sea?

Iain Johnston and I have written a short piece over on The Monkey Cage blog.  Using new data from Japan's Coast Guard, we identify a significant decline in the frequency of Chinese patrols around the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands and explore some reasons for this change in behavior. Read the story here.

Redefining the Status Quo

The most striking feature of China’s behavior in its maritime disputes this year has been efforts to redefine the status quo.  In its disputes with the Philippines and Japan, China has used the presence of its civilian maritime law enforcement agencies to create new facts on the water to strengthen China’s sovereignty claims. Before April [...]

Doubling Down in the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands?

High-ranking diplomats from China and Japan met in Shanghai recently to hold consultations over the Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands. Zhang Zhijun, vice minister of foreign affairs, met with his counterpart, Chikao Kawai. Details of the talks were not disclosed, but the continuation of consultations that started in September is important if the two sides seek [...]

Easing China-Japan Island Tensions

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently announced that Luo Zhaohui, Director-General of the Department of Asian Affairs, had made an unpublicized visit to Japan.  The purpose of his trip was to prepare for the next round of talks over the Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands at the vice ministerial level, similar to those heldin late September. Overall, this [...]

Something to Talk About in the East China Sea

The diplomatic stand off between China and Japan over the Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands has entered its third week without any signs of de-escalation.  Positions on both sides have hardened.  Each government has released detailed accounts of the bases for their claims (, ).  Talks earlier in the week between diplomats in Beijing yielded only an [...]

Drawing Lines in the Water

In the past few days, China has launched a broad and well coordinated media campaign to express opposition to the Japanese government’s purchase of three of the While tensions rise between Japan and China in the East China Sea, an important development may have been overlooked. (Diaoyu) Islands from a private Japanese citizen.  The campaign [...]

Japan, China’s Maritime Step

Many of the most salient disputes between China and its neighbors involve maritime issues. Moreover, as demonstrated by the current standoff between Beijing and Manila over Scarborough Shoal, China is often seen as assertive and uncompromising.  Nevertheless, maritime talks held with Japan this week suggest that China can be more flexible in managing its maritime [...]