Terse relations between China and Japan are by no means a recent development, however recent territorial disputes have increased the strain between the two APEC countries. Present-day controversies center on a small island chain positioned in the East China Sea. Japan currently controls the islands, known as the Diaoyu Islands in China and the Senkaku Islands in Japan, which are located near vital shipping lanes and offer rich fishing grounds.
To spite Japan and indicate their displeasure towards the Japanese controlling the islands, China announced the creation of a new “air defense identification zone” in November of 2013. The zone would require any aircrafts flying through to comply with the regulations established by Beijing. Japan, calling China’s air defense identification zone a “unilateral decision,” chose to ignore it. Later in the same month Japan accused China of flying military planes “dangerously close” to the islands, a move China merely shrugged off.
Last month the two countries agreed to resume discussions in an effort to come to a solution and avoid unintentional conflict. Talks between Japan and China resume as the APEC conference in Beijing approaches. Hopes are high that a solution could be close at hand and speculations mount that President Xi Jinping of China and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe may meet in a separate meeting during the November conference. Don’t hold your breath however, distrust and disdain predominate in Japan-China relations.