So much for Japan and China talking things out:
A senior Chinese diplomat is casting doubt on the likelihood of a meeting between leaders of China and Japan on the sidelines of next week’s G20 summit in Russia.
Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong said Tuesday such a meeting would be very difficult to organize, given the current state of relations that have been strained by a territorial dispute.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for a high-level summit with China. Reports suggest he is hoping for an informal meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G20 meeting.
Li rejected the reported Japanese offers as disingenuous, saying meetings should not be held “simply for the sake of shaking hands and taking pictures, but to resolve problems.”
That’s diplo-speak for “buzz off.”
The best thing about President Obama’s “pivot” to Asia, is that it’s practically foolproof. China has been blundering about the Pacific in such crude and obvious ways, that the countries around its perimeter are practically begging us for closer diplomatic and military relations. It would take a concerted and boneheaded effort to mess this up. Or for China to get smart and change its ways — but today’s news hardly makes that seem likely.
And then there’s this:
China is increasing its pressure on the Philippines to remove small detachments of sailors and marines stationed on nine islets and reefs in the Spratly Islands. In particular, the Chinese want the detachment stationed on a World War II era landing ship (the BRP Sierra Madre) removed. The Filipino navy deliberately grounded the LST on Second Thomas Reef in 1999, to provide a place for an observation team. Chinese patrol ships have recently come within nine kilometers of the LST, which China insists is there illegally. The Philippines warns China that it will resist any attempts to use force against the grounded ship. In response China is building more buildings (on stilts) on nearby Mischief Reef (which is only 126 kilometers from the Philippines’ Palawan Island). Second Thomas Reef and nearby Reed Bank are 148 kilometers west of the Philippines (Palawan Island) and well within the Philippines’s EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). Although the EEZ is recognized by international law (and a treaty that China signed and uses to defend waters off its own coast) China says that does not apply here because all the islets in the South China Sea belong to China and there is no room for negotiation on that point.
How long before Manila invites the US Navy back to Subic Bay?