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China Focus S1 • E31

China Focus - Why China Is Willing to Lose Islands Dispute with Japan

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Published on Aug 20, 2012

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Known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China, five tiny uninhabited islands and three rocks in the middle of the East China Sea—and the oil and minerals in the surrounding waters—have been the subject of disputes between Japan, China and Taiwan for decades.

Tensions flared again last week. On August 15, 14 activists sailed from Hong Kong and landed on the disputed islands. Several were detained by the Japanese Coast Guard, and then released back to Hong Kong. This is an annual ritual for activists on the anniversary of Japan's surrender during World War II. But for the first time in eight years, activists made it on to the islands.

Then on August 19, 150 Japanese activists landed on the same islands. In several cities in China, thousands marched through the streets in anti-Japanese protests in response.

But even though China's Foreign Ministry made familiar protests to Japan over the incidents, Chinese authorities have not escalated the situation as they did with the Philippines over islands in the South China Sea.

On China Focus, we talk about why activists made it onto the islands for the first time in years, and why Chinese authorities seem willing to lose national interests in the islands.

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