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Photo taken on a marine surveillance plane B-3837 on Dec. 13, 2012 shows the Diaoyu Islands and nearby islands. Picture: SCMP Photos/ Xinhua

China harshens tone towards Japan over Diaoyu dispute

China continued its hard line on its claim to disputed islands in the East China Sea, threatening Japan with more retaliation and talk of war in an editorial in state media.

Peony Lui
China continued its hard line on its claim to disputed islands in the East China Sea, threatening Japan with more retaliation and talk of war in an editorial in Monday's Global Times, an influential daily tabloid under the auspices of the state-controlled People’s Daily.
Despite attempts by incoming Japanese premier Shinzo Abe to mend ties by sending envoys to China, the editorial opined that Abe's “hawkish stance will not change, nor will the right-wing tendency of the Japanese society".

Military posturing over the Diaoyu Islands intensified last week when Japan scrambled F-15 fighter jets after a Chinese plane entered the disputed area for the first time.

“Strategists believe that although neither [Japan nor China] has the will to fight a war, the Diaoyu dispute could be the trigger. Once the dispute intensifies into a war, the sentiments of the public from both countries may explode, which will result in larger-scale military clashes,” the editorial said.

There is deeply rooted resentment against Japan among the Chinese public that “once ignited, will have incredible power”, said the Global Times.

“If China’s marine surveillance aircraft is downed during its confrontation with Japan’s fighter jets, the Chinese public will demand the government to take revenge at any cost. An apology will not be enough. The public will expect a Japanese jet to be taken down in retaliation,” it said.

The editorial maintained that Japan’s “provocation in the islands” is a “direct challenge to China’s reputation and dignity".

China faces the dilemma of becoming “the world’s laughing stock”, or going forwards and facing military confrontation with Japan. “Going forwards is the only choice for the Chinese government,” the editorial said.

It continued that the Chinese government should require Japan to “pay the same price” for its actions.

The editorial also pointed a finger at the United States.

“We should make our bottom line clear to Japan and the United States, so that the Japanese public understands that they cannot escape Chinese retaliation and punishment if they cause any loss of China.”

If the attitude of retaliation escalates into a large-scale war, “it will be the fate of the Chinese nation, neighboured by Japan”, the editorial said. “We have no choice but to go into this disaster designed by the United States together with Japan.”

“Our short term goal is to make sure that Japan pays more than China,” the editorial concluded.

The Global Times is known for its pro-government stance and nationalistic approach in foreign affairs reporting. Its English-language version is seen as more progressive.

A toned-down version of the editorial was also posted on the Global Times’ English-language website.