The United States is realizing that the escalating tensions in the Far East, especially between China and Japan, should no longer be viewed as an opportunity to contain China. Instead, our first priority should be to get everyone to calm down.
At issue are the territorial rights over some forty piles of rock, most uninhabited, some barely sticking out of the water.
These islands are not fought over simply as real estate but because they serve as markers for determining maritime rights. If nations can populate and prove ownership over tiny islands in their near seas, they can expand their EEZ and gain access to the surrounding natural resources—not only fish but also coveted fuels and minerals that lie beneath the seabed.
Resource allocation is a contentious issue, but raw materials have a virtue: they can be divided. Disputes over such assets do not have to be settled in a winner-takes-all fashion, allowing all the nations involved to gain some of the spoils and save face. In contrast, if the clashes spin out of control, the disputants and the bystanders will all be losers.
Read the entire article at The National Interest