A Foreign Ministry spokesman announced on Wednesday that China would carry out a geographical survey of the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, according to Xinhua News. From AFP (via the South China Morning Post):
The mapping exercise was part of China’s efforts to “safeguard its maritime rights and interests”, Xinhua said, without saying when it would take place or making clear whether it would involve activities on land, as opposed to sea-based surveying.
It quoted Zhang Huifeng, an official with China’s National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation, acknowledging that there could be “difficulties”.
“There are some difficulties in landing on some islands to survey, and in surveying and mapping the surrounding sea area of the islands, because some countries infringed and occupied these islands of China,” he said.
Japan scrambled fighter jets to the skies above the territory last week, the second time in less than a month it had done so, after it detected several Chinese military planes in the area. The U.S. sent a top diplomat to Tokyo this week, and on Thursday he urged leaders on both sides to discuss the issue before brinksmanship turns into dangerous conflict
The risks of a dangerous clash between China and Japan are rising, according to The Economist, which explores where tensions over the Diayou Islands may lead:
The risk that the dispute might cause a serious rift with America must haunt some of China’s diplomats. Many of them believe that this would thwart China’s ambition to become a respected global power. So calmer voices may yet prevail. A botched military engagement could inflame nationalist sentiment at home and turn it against the party for its perceived incompetence. For all their rapid acquisition of sophisticated hardware in recent years, the Chinese armed forces lack the combat experience that
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