For some time, I have been concerned about the strengthening of the Chinese navy. In 2009, there was a clash between the USS Impeccable and Chinese vessels. In 2010, there was an incident between the Chinese and Japan.
Now there is rising tension over the Senkaku (Chinese: Diaoyutai) Islands. Probably because of domestic factors, Japan has chosen to emphasize its claims to ownership of the islands and China, for its own domestic reasons, has chosen to respond with rhetoric so intense that some Japanese manufacturers in China have been forced to shut down. The islands are not inhabited, and are roughly 150 miles off of Taiwan and 230 miles off of China. However, thanks to the 200 mile exclusion zone granted by international law to territorial waters, whoever controls the islands, controls something like 25,000 square miles of seabed which might constitute a new Saudi Arabia. If there is a conflict, the US is bound by treaty to support Japan.
None of this would be an issue if China had not developed a blue water navy. But it has, and the purpose of that navy is probably, according to the Congressional Research Service, to fend off any attempt to rescue Taiwan from a Chinese invasion. Today, on CCTV, their first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was pointedly on display.
China has had a series of clashes with its neighbors, including Vietnam, the Philippines, and Japan. India regards it as its primary rival. China, of course, seized a US aircraft during the Dubya Administration.
This is a dangerous situation and, I fear, part of a China that has gone from confident to arrogant, and prone to misjudgment. Whether the present kerfuffle over the Senkaku Islands will end in bloodshed is unknowable. My guess is, probably not. But as American power comes under increasing strain (thanks to our criminally incompetent military leadership), the emergence of an aggressive China is likely. Economically, the effect of open conflict could be as serious as war against Iran. Perhaps worse.
And the American media continue pouring out infotainment, and the American public remains oblivious.
Added: This column by Han Yi-Shaw presenting the Chinese point of view is useful, as are many of the comments. Personally, I think that the resources below the Economic Zone should be donated to the Palestinians and other people living under stateless conditions. Then the Chinese and Japanese can probably find an amicable resolution as to who owns the islands.