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The diamond in the string of pearls

September 18, 2012

As Japan the erstwhile superpower in the East collides with China the dominant star in Asia, tensions are rising, nationalist fears growing and the once booming bilateral trade is on the brink of being fizzled away. The Sino-Japanese territory claims over the Senkaku islands as known in Japan and Diaoyu in China, follows a series of landings by both Chinese and Japanese activists over the past month. This is China and Japan’s worst diplomatic crisis since 2005, putting at risk a trade relationship that’s tripled in the past decade to more than US$340 billion.

The claims by both nations over the same islands, resonates memories of brutal wars between the two countries, but also echoes in India which has faced its fair share of landed disputes with China. As the Middle Kingdom seeks to enlarge its diplomatic might, it is laying claim to islands in the South China Sea, which hold a wealth of oil, and marine life as well as are a vital trade link route, cutting shipping time between East Asia and the Middle East drastically.

India, for whom the battle rings loud and clear and who was caught in a similar spate a few months ago, when the state oil company ONGC cooperated with Vietnam for oil exploration, is seeking to lay its claim on Male, the capital of the Maldives. Defining its relationship with the island nation and staking claim with the Male government, New Delhi has decided to station a Defense Attaché at Male. Additionally, India has also decided to position its Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv, now souped up  with night flying capabilities for an additional period of two years beyond April 2012.

China’s nationalistic maneuvers have the world in a tizzy. With the European debt crisis shaking up the world economy, the East was considered a safe haven to stash your cash, however this might not be the case anymore. China has emerged over the past few years as Japan’s largest trading power, it also recently usurped Japan as the second largest economy in the world. While the Japanese economy will suffer due to disputed ties, China will also lose a nation it had begun to trust and trade with. India should be taking notes.

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