Let This Not Be The Beginning of WWIII

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Where Diaoyu (PRC)/Senkaku (Japan)/Tiaoyutai (ROC) is located in East China Sea: in red circle above (credit: Wikimedia commons)

Please also see the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PMxZF69lEM:
As I turned on my computer in the morning, there are more  reports of simmering conflict between China and Japan over the three islands in the East China Sea (from September 18, 2013, demonstration march outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, to Japan’s nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe giving order in October, 2013, to shoot down any aircraft, including Chinese surveillance drones, flying over Japanese airspace, then spokesman for China’s Defense Ministry  Geng Yansheng delivering the statement, “Chinese aircraft have never infringed on other countries’ airspace, and China never allows other countries’ aircraft to infringe on China’s airspace, adding that if Japan took such moves, it would be a severe provocation to China and “an act of war, and China will take resolute measures to strike back….” . Now in November, Russian bombers are sighted flying near Japanese air space, putting Japan’s Air Self Defense Force on alert.  What a contrast from our coverage of World Solar Challenge 2013 that just took place in Australia last month, where teams from different countries (including China, Taiwan, and Japan) were all collaborating and full of hope and optimism for all of our future in solar energy. The more reports I’ve read on the China-Japan disputes, the image of “breaking of the glass” of Jewish wedding tradition flashes in my mind’s eye.
So, how does “breaking of the glass” fit in? This, to me, was such a bizarre tradition the first time I attended one of my Jewish friends’ wedding. But the older I get and more weddings I’ve attended, the more I have come to appreciate what it represents. It was explained to me as a symbol of:
  1. breaking away from the past in order to start afresh toward the future
  2. breaking down of barriers between people of different cultures and faiths
  3. frailty of human relationships and love and reminding us to treat our relationship with special care
  4. destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem
  5. breaking the glass together-working through challenges together and celebrating successes of life  is best done together
  6. even in the happiest time, we must remember that there is still much suffering in the world

What does it have to do with China-Japan dispute, you might ask.

As I’ve previously posted in  my January 4, 2013  post, the Diaoyu Islands (also known as Senkaku Islands among Japanese) are a group of uninhabited islands  east of mainland China, northeast of Taiwan, west of Okinawa Island, and north of the southwestern end of the Ryukyu Islands.  They are currently controlled by Japan and both China and Taiwan claim sovereignty over the islands.  Some of you may wonder why is there such an escalating territorial row between Beijing and Tokyo over these bunch of rocks of uninhabited islands.  Well, the value of Diaoyu islands (Chinese) or Senkaku islands (Japanese) dramatically shot up and became the center of attention after an obscure 1969 United Nations report suggesting the seabed in the area could contain an oil bonanza.  Apparently this document produced from surveys conducted by an international team of experts (including scientists from China and Japan) never gave any estimate of the reserves. It seems, to me, that the mere suggestion of vast reserves that the continental shelf between Taiwan and Japan could hold a staggering 100 billion barrels of oil was enough to set off a territorial scramble.

Professor White, in the Sydney Morning Herald during early part of 2013, wrote that we are now witnessing the types of conditions that have historically led to war, despite the conflict being in no one’s interest.  He further indicated that the war would not necessarily be contained or short.  It does seem laughably unthinkable that the three richest countries of our planet (two of which are nuclear armed) would go to war over something so trivial.  But history reminds us not to confuse what starts a war with what causes it.  The escalation of tit-for-tat without a clear circuit-breaker may lead to some point when shots will be exchanged;once such spiraling to war begins, neither side will win  and it would be devastating not just for China and Japan, but for rest of the planet earth.

Please allow me to reshare parts of my January 10, 2013 post:
Back in July of 2012, China was mulling over the possibility of raising its 2015 photovoltaic target to over 25 GW.  With the concern over sovereignty issue (truthfully, it is an issue over oil reserves) involving Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, need of clean energy sources, and the need to make their economic growth  less dependent on fossil fuel, in January of 2013, China is now aiming to add 10 GW (gigawatts) of installed solar power capacity and 18 GW of installed wind power capacity this year alone.  For a table of China’s renewable energy targets for 2015 and 2020, please click on Reuters.

Truly, the real solution to China’s dispute with Japan does not lie in ownership of some rocks of  uninhabited islands, but in alternative clean fuel sources such as solar and wind energy.  As I’ve repeatedly written, solar energy is:  cleaner, safer,  healthier, more readily available, with great sense of timing, and requires fewer moving parts (in March 4, 2011 post) than fossil fuel or oil.  If one factors into the cost of potential WWIII/nuclear war, it is no wonder the wise leaders in China would have great incentive to increase the rate of installations for solar PV and wind.

Since our initial discussion originated from the territorial row over Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, let’s take a closer look at the cause of the problem numerically.  It is, in essence, a row over the promised potential of accessing 100 billion barrels of oil in that region. But the burning of fossil fuel/oil really would not help the already polluted air quality of either China or Japan.  So, it is a matter of energy/fuel that they are fighting over.  To have a more clear picture of the situation, please view the video clip of Michael Klare, Five Colleges professor of peace and world security studies, available at my January 10, 2013 post:

We are in a transitional period when wise, ethical, and skillful international diplomatic politicians are desperately needed who will not only be able to negotiate the last few barrels of oil (without triggering any war), but also be able to convince our government to shift one quarter of our military budget toward research and development in energy alternatives (as suggested by Michael Klare), and cooperate with China and Japan for research and development for renewable energy in the coming century. So we will be able to carry out the most moral and patriotic American path for our future generations. So U.S. , China, and Japan (users of more than half of earth’s energy and producers of half of the earth’s CO2 by 2030) will go down in history not as plunderers of the planet earth but rescuers of the planet earth who worked cooperatively in finding solutions to earth’s energy and pollution problems.

Our planet is suffering, be it in the form of China’s air pollution or Philippines’ typhoon.  What  Russians, Japanese, Filipinos, Chinese, and Americans…all Earthlings need to remind ourselves is that we are all so interconnected that suffering of one or one region will impact all of our planet Earth.  We need to pool our source of time, energy, and natural resources in solving the problem of climate change-pollution-energy rather than wasting them over territorial disputes that may potentially lead us all to total destruction.


There is hope! We’ve seen the Chinese government versatile enough to “China does a ‘180’ on air pollution policy to combat its deadly smog” The Japan-China Economic Association will be sending around 180 leaders of major businesses in Japan over to China, in the hope of improving the strained ties between the two East Asian countries. One of the spokespersons for this largest business delegation to visit Beijing since 2011, Fujio Cho, chairman of Toyota Motor Corp,  indicated that they filed a request to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang or Vice Premier Wang Yang. They hope to convince Chinese senior officials from both public and private sectors to start mending ties between the two Asian countries. They will also be showing support for Li’s structural reforms (which includes removing excess production facilities in the country) and government-affiliated firms.


At this hour, let’s hope that the leaders in China will receive the business delegation from The China-Japan Economic Association with care. Let’s also hope that the Chinese will offer greater assistance to help relieve the sufferings of Filipinos.


Perhaps all of those involved in disputes and negotiations mentioned above would deeply contemplate/visualize the “breaking of the glass” scenario, be free from the historical disputes of the past (be it from China-Japan or Japan-Russia conflicts and sentiment resulting from WWII), in order to break down barriers, protect the frail international relationships, come together to face the challenge of our earthly energy-pollution-climate change problems. Only then, will there be the good luck for us to step into a cleaner, healthier, and safer renewable/solar energy future. Only then, will we be able to call out “Mazel Tov.”


(Perhaps if all negotiating members will be breathing in 30-60 minutes of air from oxygen bar prior to all negotiating meetings would also help.)


~have a bright and sunny day~
gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker
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