World News Brief, Tuesday September 18

Japan-China relations deteriorate over disputed islands -- anti-Japan protests erupt across China; Suu Kyi arrives in Washington DC to meet with Clinton and Obama; protests over anti-Islam film continue to surge; major anti-austerity protests in Spain and Portugal; and more

Top of the Agenda: Japan-China Relations Sour Over Disputed Islands

Massive and at times violent anti-Japan protests (Reuters) across China over the weekend--the worst in decades, according to analysts--have prompted some Japanese firms to temporarily shutter factories in the world's second-largest economy and may threaten bilateral trade between the two nations. The demonstrations mainly focused on Japanese diplomatic missions but also included businesses in at least five cities. The uproar began after Tokyo agreed to purchase a chain of long-disputed islands last week in the East China Sea (BBC), known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, from a private Japanese owner. The uninhabited but strategically important islands are controlled by Japan, but also claimed by China and Taiwan. Beijing characterized the move as "illegal," but vowed to protect Japanese firms and expatriates. The United States said it will honor its security commitments to Japan, but would not take sides in the unfolding dispute.


"Behind the farce of 'buying' the Diaoyu Islands, Japan has a much bigger plan. Since the United States announced its strategy of returning to Asia, Japan has been acting as 'a pawn of the U.S.' to encircle China. By getting involved in the South China Sea dispute, playing up the 'China maritime threat' and frequently holding large-scale joint military exercises with US forces, Japan, together with other U.S. allies, is trying to contain China's rise, writes Chu Zhaogen in China Daily.

"U.S. allies and friends around the South China Sea look to the United States to maintain free trade, safe and secure sea lines of communication, and overall peace and stability in the region. Claimants and nonclaimants to land features and maritime waters in the South China Sea view the U.S. military presence as necessary to allow decision-making free of intimidation. If nations in the South China Sea lose confidence in the United States to serve as the principal regional security guarantor, they could embark on costly and potentially destabilizing arms buildups to compensate or, alternatively, become more accommodating to the demands of a powerful China," writes Bonnie S. Glaser in this CFR Contingency Planning Memo.

"So far, though, it is reasonable to expect that cool heads will prevail, if only for the fact that trade between Asia's two largest economies would suffer tremendously should war erupt between them. The assumption, therefore, is that the situation remains manageable and that 'rational' leaders will make the right decision, which is to de-escalate, writes J. Michael Cole for the Diplomat.



Burma's Suu Kyi Embarks on U.S. Visit

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is scheduled to arrive in Washington, DC on Monday morning to commence her eighteen-day tour of the United States. Suu Kyi is set to meet with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and President Obama, and will receive the Congressional Gold Medal (VOA).



Protests over anti-Islam film continue

Major anti-austerity protests in Spain and Portugal



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