US playing dual role

Updated: 2012-09-24 08:07

(China Daily)

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Any discerning person can see the motive behind the joint drill between Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force and the US Marine Corps in Guam on Saturday. It was the first exercise of its kind, held purportedly to enhance the two countries' capabilities to defend remote islands from "foreign assault".

Tension between China and Japan had mounted further on Friday night as scores of Japanese policemen landed on China's Diaoyu Islands. But instead of taking steps to defuse the tension, Japan started the joint drill, which GSDF claimed was not aimed at any specific island or third country.

As early as 2005, Japan's Defense Agency had prepared a plan to defend the remote islands south of Kyushu and Okinawa against a possible "invasion" from China. The plan said Japan should dispatch 55,000 GSDF troops, and planes, warships and submarines if the remote islands were attacked. The possible reasons for such an attack, the report said, were the Diaoyu Islands dispute and China's exploration for marine resources in the East China Sea. The report at best was wild speculation.

The Diaoyu Islands dispute is a delicate issue, and the US is responsible for creating it. First, it wrongly grouped them with Ryukyu Islands (known as Okinawa today) to take over their administration in 1951. Second, it handed them over to Japan, rather than China, in 1972.

Now that it has become a covert part to the Diaoyu Islands dispute, it has the chance of absolving itself by playing a constructive role to resolve it. But it seems it is interested only in making the issue thornier.

The US began test-flying MV-22 Ospreys in Okinawa on Sept 21. Since the Japanese see the airplane-helicopter hybrid as crucial leverage in a territorial dispute with China, the US is encouraging Japan to stay away from a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the issue.

During his recent visit to China, US Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta reiterated that Washington would not take sides in territorial disputes in the region. But while in Japan, which he visited before China, he said the US-Japan security treaty also covered the Diaoyu Islands.

The US pivot to Asia and the rebalancing of its armed forces are aimed at just one thing: containing China's rise.

We hope Washington is not running with the hare and hunting with the hounds?

(China Daily 09/24/2012 page8)