Friday, June 20, 2008

Another Yomiuri East China Sea Map for Martin J. Frid… Wait, It Gets Better

It comes from the establishment’s paper of unofficial record, so you want some corroboration, preferably from the Chinese side (not that the Chinese authorities will oblige), or Sankei.* Still, this latest Yomiuri report on the backstory for the omission of Asunaro/Longjing omission from the deal is intriguing. And encouraging too, since it drags South Korea into the picture.

According to the Yomiuri, the negotiators worried that South Korea, not a party to the negotiations, might complain that a Asunaro/Longjing gas well could suck gas out of deposits in/on the South Korean EEZ/continental shelf, on the other side of the China-ROK median line, so they’ve given up on the idea of developing the Asunaro field altogether, like a geopolitical AWAR. The story sounds a little fishy, since the South Koreans--their Sinophobia can sometimes make Shoichi Nakagawa look like a member of the fifth column for the Chinese Communist Party—haven’t been heard complaining much. Let’s hope the story is true, though, because it shows an awareness of the need to keep smoke off the waters—there’s always the threat of flames—among three peoples who share a common, resource-starved, trade-dependent destiny (among other things).

* My skepticism is given further ammunition by the thought: Why would the Japanese side have invested in yet another JV completely under Chinese jurisdiction, or the Chinese side accepted anything less, in the first place?


Sun Bin said...

i have a map which supports the yomiuri report fairly strongly, that one edge of the Sino-Japanese heptagon coincides with the edge of the Japan_Korea zone designated in 1974, almost exactly.

Jun Okumura said...

I guess that means I'm headed back to your blog again.

Martin J Frid said...

I'm pretty optimistic about this whole affair. Maybe it signals an era when China and Japan can sit down and negotiate based on facts and figues, not nationalism.

(The kind of comment I like to make on Friday evenings, before a nice, slow weekend)

Jun Okumura said...


It is unlikely that it will ever be an either-or matter. Having said that, the two authorities are doing a good job of keeping Chinese nationalism under control. (It has never been as nearly as serious a political threat in open, pluralist Japan.) I suspect that any further activities will take place slowly, and that much of the mineral resources under the disputed waters will not be exploited in the forseeable future. The potential economic rewards appear to be too small for the two sides to attempt to resolve the political hurdles posed by legal issues arising from the sovereignty question.

In any case, it's the overall relationship that really matters. In that sense, this most recent compromise is a product, not source, of a vastly improving political climate that will enable the two nations to better deal with the formidable challenges, both regional and global, that they face in common, if not in consort. And yes, that is a cause for optimism, however heavily guarded it may be.