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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mysterious goings on?

It's no secret that as China continues to grow in terms of its economic and political influence, so do its territorial claims. In particular, the Chinese have been challenging Japan's exclusive economic zone, or at least the extent of it. It's also no secret that the Ma Ying-jeou 馬英九 administration has been nudging Taiwan ever closer into Beijing's orbit. But is Ma now aligning Taiwan with China's expansionist aspirations? The following Kyōdō News 共同通信社 article appearing in Japan Today does make one wonder ("Taiwanese ship spotted sailing in Japan's EEZ without approval"):

"A Taiwanese survey ship was found sailing some 324 kilometers west-northwest of Amami-Ōshima Island 奄美大島, Kagoshima Prefecture 鹿児島県, in Japan’s exclusive economic zone shortly before 1 p.m. Friday, local Coast Guard 海上保安庁 officials said. An airplane dispatched by the regional Coast Guard headquarters in Kagoshima confirmed that the 66-meter ship was carrying what appeared to be a wire hung into the water from its stern, they said. The vessel was first found in the EEZ on Thursday, prompting the Coast Guard to issue a warning against its operations in the zone without Japan’s advance consent. While the ship was sailing toward the southwest, the Coast Guard halted monitoring it Thursday evening as the wire appeared to have been pulled out of the water. The ship returned to where it was initially found by Friday and then resumed sailing toward the southwest without responding to a radio warning from the aircraft, the officials said."

Of course, the Republic of China 中華民國 has its own territorial disputes with Japan. But it does seem a little odd how in recent weeks, Ma and his officials have been playing up the strength of ties with Japan, yet the administration appears to have sent a ship (ships?) on a mysterious (and provocative) voyage into an area of ocean claimed by the Japanese. And, most ominously of all, the Taiwanese vessel appeared to be operating in roughly the same area where last week a Chinese ship forced a Japanese ship to leave, triggering a strong protest from the Japanese government.

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