The Global Politics of the Diaoyu Islands

By Bryant Arnold. via:http://www.cartoonaday.com/china-vs-japan-at-sea/

As The Japanese government’s moved to purchase the Diaoyu Islands (also known as Senkaku Islands) three days ago the government of the People’s Republic of China reacted energetically.  Initially, Chinese media reporters influenced mediatic understanding of the situation by emphasizing the nationalization of the islands by Japan (ringing the history bells to Chinese people on how Japan had previously nationalized Manchuria and renamed it as the puppet state of Manchukuo during the WW2 period).  And later, by making strong diplomatic statements on how Chinese sovereignty and control of the islands had been violated by the Japanese purchase.

The purchase of the islands is of relevance regionally and globally.  Why China, Japan, and S. Korea aren’t backing down on this islands should be understood by taking a look at the map and see how the position of the islands is central for the passage of containers and oil that comes all the way from Middle East via the Strait of Malacca.  A route that is of priority importance for China and which I explored in the essay “The Strait of Malacca as one of the most important geopolitical regions for the People’s Republic of China” which ca be read in pdf at Academia.edu for free.

Locally, the geography of the islands is meaningless. The island group consists of five uninhabited islets and three barren rocks which zooming out are located approximately 120 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan, 200 nautical miles east of the Chinese mainland and 200 nautical miles southwest of the Japanese island of Okinawa. And which zooming out are in the center of the route of all the containers that go to the ports of East and North East China, of which the most important is Shangai.

The Japanese central government formally annexed the islets on 14 January 1895. And after WW2 they were occupied by the United States. The islets were later returned to Japan during the 70s and it was only until the last two decades that they became of relevance as the People’s Republic of China started to project is New Economic and Global Plans for economic sustainable expansion.  Plans in which they have invested billions of  dollars in military expansion, naval trade/military shipbuilding, regional economic investment via state-owned companies and diplomatic sovereignty claims all over the region.

The islands are officially Japanese territory, but as Chinese official statements continue being broadcasted they claim a violation of sovereignty that could takes decades to be resolved via a diplomatic arbitrage and/or scalate to more direct military statements and naval occupations of the beaches of the islets.

Whoever said that trade is the most (or only) pacific way of organizing society should reconsider this evaluations when thinking about how global trade works and on how diplomatic and economic control of trade routes is sometimes more powerful and dangerous than a bunch of battleships.

Advertisements

Did Empire Matter? Indian Migration in Global Context 1834-1940

Bombay Fort
Image via Wikipedia

Prof. Adam McKeown from Columbia University did an online conference a couple weeks ago (November 08, 2011. University of Pittsburgh. World History Center.).  The title was “Did Empire Matter? Indian Migration in Global Context 1834-1940” as a continuation of the Global Migrations Discussion.  I have uploaded a summary of that lecture’s content and here’s the link to the pdf,

McKeown - Migrations

You can still watch the tape of the online conference in this link: LIVE Conference (taped)

Prof. Adam McKeown, is a leading figure in world-historical interpretation, has shown the value of migration studies in clarifying global patterns. He is author of studies including, Melancholy Order: Asian Migration and the Globalization of Borders /(2008), and he is writing a history of globalization since 1760. He co-directs the International and Global History graduate track at Columbia.

Journal Reco. “Sino-Pacifica”: Conceptualizing Greater Southeast Asia as a Sub-Arena of World History

Map of Southeast Asia
Image via Wikipedia

I just got my hands in a great article on Southeast Asia issues.  Here’s the abstract for the article (via Project MUSE) and I hope you’ll get to enjoy it too,

Conventional geography’s boundary line between a “Southeast Asia” and an “East Asia,” following a “civilizational” divide between a “Confucian” sphere and a “Viet­nam aside, everything but Confucian” zone, obscures the essential unity of the two regions. This article argues the coherence of a macroregion “Sino-Pacifica” encom­passing both and explores this new framework’s implications: the Yangzi River basin, rather than the Yellow River basin, pioneered the developments that led to the rise of Chinese civilization, and the eventual prominence of the Yellow River basin came not from centrality but rather from its liminality—its position as the contact zone between Inner Eurasia and Southeast Asia.

In a sense . . . the frontier of Southeast Asia has retreated slowly from the line of the Yangzi (in what is now central China) to the Mekong delta (in what is now southern Vietnam).

—Charles Holcombe, The Genesis of East Asia

[T]he Vietnamese-Lao wars of the seventeenth century were resolved wisely when the Le rulers in Vietnam and the Lao monarch agreed that every inhabitant in the upper Mekong valley who lived in a house built on stilts owed allegiance to Laos, while those whose homes had earth floors owed allegiance to Vietnam.

—The Emergence of Modern Southeast Asia: A New History [End Page 659]

The question of boundaries is the first to be encountered; from it all others flow.

Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II

In conventional geography, the largest division of the human community is the continental or subcontinental scale “world region.” World regions are the most useful as concepts when their boundaries can be seen as enduring, immobile, and, above all, easy to map. Yet, in the first quotation above, we see a border between two world regions, Southeast and East Asia, that rolls southward thousands of miles over thousands of years. In the second quotation, we see a border between two kingdoms within the same world region, Southeast Asia, that cannot be traced as a simple line on the ground, being created by the contrasting cultural preferences of inextricably mixed populations. The moving boundary and the undrawable boundary are actually the same, the frontiers between Sinified Vietnam and its un-Sinified neighbors.

Article: Global Migration, 1846–1940 by Prof. Adam McKeown

via Flickr”]Port

Rudolph Vecoli introduced his edited volume A Century of European Migrations, 1830–1930 with the statement “[w]e need to move beyond the framework of the ‘Atlantic Migration’ . . . It [has] blinkered us to the global nature of [migration].”

And indeed, that is what Prof. Adam McKeown planned to demonstrate in the article “Global Migration, 1846–1940”.  The article is a great tool to understand the role that global interconnectedness, industrialization and increase in trade meant for the world. McKeown explains how was it that millions of migrants during the period of his study enabled for the population of America, Southeast Asia and Manchuria to increased more quickly than world population.

Read it:Global Migration 1846-1940. McKeown, Adam, Ph.D. Journal of World History, Volume 15, Number 2, June 2004, pp. 155-189 (Article)

Full Access HTML Version | Full Access PDF Version (421k)