On Dec 6, 2017, President Donald Trump announced that the United States formally recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. A quick look at history tells us that after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Israel took control over West Jerusalem (Britain’s Partition Plan failed completely) whereas the eastern part remained inside Jordan according to the 1949 Armistice Agreements.
In the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel captured East Jerusalem and since then this part has been a de facto territory of Israel.
Despite numerous differences between Jerusalem and Diaoyu Islands (called by Japan as Senkaku Islands), the point of concern is that when a close ally of the U.S. is able to control a particular territory for long time, however controversial it may be, it is absolutely possible in reality that the USA would recognize this ally’s claim of sovereignty on it at certain time it thinks fit or necessary for some reasons.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has at least two reasons to be cheerful. Firstly, Japan has been somehow controlling the waters around the islands for decades. Secondly, given the foreign policy inconsistency between the incumbent leaders in The Philippines (Rodrigo Duterte) and South Korea (Moon Jae-in) and their predecessors, Japan is definitely the only reliable ally of the U.S. in East Asia, thus gaining weight in Washington’s inner circle.
To China, it is a red flag. If Japan can be backed up by the U.S. formally on its claim, Tokyo will without reservation resort to the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security (which was first signed in 1952) for American intervention once a war erupts for the rocks.
Although such an American backup is still too early to say, it is getting more unlikely that Japan is willing to soften its position. Negotiation is getting harder and more complicated.
By now, hoping for peaceful solution for this island dispute is almost a wishful thinking after President Trump’s drastic move which appears that it is endorsed by the ‘Deep State’ with a bipartisan consensus between the Republican and Democrat.
For this reason, the relationship between China and Japan will remain bitter and sour in the 21st century. Perhaps, the best scenario is what we have right now. Any negative measure that changes the status quo could bring unbearable consequences to all parties concerned.
BY KEITH K C HUI
This article was first published by China Daily Mail.
The 21st Century