China and Its Southern Neighbors


In recent years, China has shared a tumultuous relationship with its southern neighbors, according to those neighbors. To the south lies India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Malaysia. To the west lies Japan. Among these countries, there is a growing concern over China’s ascent on not only the economic world stage, but also their investments in countries such as the Philippines and Taiwan. The latter is considered by China to be an integral part of China’s future and political dynasty. The military in the Philippines have conducted military practices and also announced their plans to hold onto their sovereignty. This event is likely to stir anger in the Chinese government, for which the Philippines said they were prepared for “all possible consequences.”

China’s power is growing, and to many, it looks like they are cashing it out to expand their interests. Late last year, China began occupying the Senkaku Islands with naval fleets, which Japan has claimed sovereignty over for centuries. They announced that they were effectively taking it from Japan, and all air traffic above the islands in the direction of mainland China had to first be cleared by air traffic controllers, as well as the government. From Japan’s perspective, as well as the United States’s, who is a major stakeholder in the region, the action was seen as a major escalation. Since then, the United States and Japan have conducted fly-overs across the Senkaku Islands as a response to China’s aggression. The reason why the United States is so invested in Japan’s safety is because of a security pact they signed after World War II, which stipulates that in the event of an attack on Japan, the U.S. must help defend their interests.

To the south, where Taiwan and other island nations are located, the concern against China and its relationship with their southern neighbors is growing, according to civilians who have talked publicly about the country. For many years, Taiwan was controlled by both Japan and China, and only in recent years has the country developed on its own. However, China and Taiwan signed a trade deal earlier this month. This event set off a spate of student protests, drawing in over 100,000 protesters. Many in the country are wary of the deal, and are scared that China will escalate their recent actions and colonize Taiwan, which many Taiwanese say they consider a major set back in their independence.

Also grappling with their independence is the Philippines. The country has deployed boots on the ground in their own country, saying that they will protect their sovereignty at any cost, and are prepared for the consequences of that. China reacted to the act by saying the Philippines were intentionally stoking old tensions. However, the Philippine narrative is among a pattern of growing concern for China’s power.

No matter what China’s intentions are, the country is rapidly starting to look more and more like a hegemony, according to its southern neighbors. China’s aggression and expansion draw an eerie parallel to the United States in the very early Nineteenth century. As the 13 colonies became states, and those 13 spiraled into the 50 that the world knows today, the U.S. had to push out Spanish empires, European colonies in the south and the island nations such as Haiti, and Native Americans and Mexicans. This expansion is widely known by scholars as hegemony, wherein political power is defined by geographical control. Today, in 2014, the world is seeing a similar phenomenon occur in China. On Sunday, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott invited China’s military and the president Xi Jinping to train and perform military exercises in the country. The two countries are also presumed to hold bilateral talks in Australia in November, right before the G20 Summit.

Opinion by Tyler Collins

The Sydney Morning Herald
Huffington Post
Phil Star
Al Jazeera

3 Responses to "China and Its Southern Neighbors"

  1. stronglaoying   April 14, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Below is the background history from Chinese side. You are welcome to publish from Japanese side. I want to see the explanation from Japanese side. But if you use bad words to attack me, I will respond in kind or even worse.

    “Whatever the reasons for holding on to the Diaoyutais, Japan’s claim to ownership is weak. There are books, reports and maps from the 15th century, during the period of the Ming Dynasty, that establish in no uncertain terms that the Diaoyutais are Chinese territory. The books “Voyage with a Tail Wind” and “The Record of the Imperial Envoy’s Visit to Ryukyu” bear testimony to this. Even writings by Japanese scholars in the late 19th century acknowledged this fact.
    The challenge to Chinese ownership of the Diaoyutais came from Japanese annexation of the islands in 1894-95 following the first Sino-Japanese War. China under the Qing Dynasty was too weak to fight back and regain lost territory. But annexation through military force does not confer legitimacy upon the act of conquest.
    This is why when Japan was defeated in World War II the victors, who included China and the U.S., recognized that the Diaoyutais were Chinese territory. Both the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Declaration acknowledged this though for administrative purposes the Diaoyutais were placed under U.S. control as part of its governance over the Ryukyu Islands. The U.S. was then the occupying power in Japan following the latter’s surrender.
    However, when China was taken over by the Chinese Communist Party in 1949, the U.S. changed its position and began to treat the islands as part of Japan. The Chinese Communist leadership protested vehemently. In 1971, the U.S. Senate returned the Diaoyutai Islands, together with Okinawa, to Japan under the Okinawa Reversion Treaty. Again, the Chinese government in Beijing objected, as did the Taiwan government which also regards the islands as part of China.
    Since the normalization of relations between China and Japan in 1972, both sides have agreed to allow their fisher folk to operate in the waters surrounding the islands without resolving the issue of ownership. Of course, neither China nor Japan has relinquished even an iota of its claims in the last 40 years. Recent incidents have however forced this unresolved issue into the open.
    Now Japan “nationalized” the ownership of the islands. Japan now unilaterally claims the ownership of the islands. Japan is acting tough and won’t back down. Japan is arresting fishing boats from China and Taiwan. Japan broke the status quo (ownership is in dispute). Status quo can’t not be broken !!! In Chinese eyes, this is Japanese aggression. Japan has action, China will have reaction. There is Japanese attack, there will be Chinese counterattack.”

    • One day, an con artist want to sell me a nice BMW with very cheap price, but the problem is he didn’t own that BMW. Same here, no one own the islands (ownership is in dispute), how can Tokyo or Japan buy the islands and declare ownership ? Don’t act like a con artist.

  2. John Lone   April 14, 2014 at 1:37 am

    Just to point it out, these Senkaku islands was never part of china for thousands of years from the Hua Xia to the Qin to the Ming dynasty until the Qing illegally claimed as theirs like the Paracel and Spartly islands in West Philippines Sea. In fact, it was the chinese started war aggressions to occupied Paracel islands from Vietnam in 1974 and some Spartly islands in 1988.

  3. Vox   April 14, 2014 at 12:14 am

    Just to point out that Japan did not have the Diaoyu / Senkaku islands for centuries. These Islands were seized from Qing China after Japan defeated it in a 1895 war. It was held under US control after 1945, and it was the US who placed the islands under Japan’s administration in 1972 without the consent of either Republic of China (ROC – Taiwan) or the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since both were inheritors of the Republican China / Qing China before it.

    Therefore, if there was any party that was responsible for this brouhaha, it was the US. One wondered if it was done deliberately to instigate future troubles between neighbours, and to have the US as the self-appointed sheriff.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.