On the anniversary of an event that triggered the 1931 Japanese invasion and occupation of Manchuria, a modern land dispute triggered a fresh round of Chinese protests, some of which turned violent. The five uninhabited islands and three reefs in the East China Sea that are at the center of the dispute, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, are located in waters that are rich in fishing, contain promising oil and gas deposits and are close to important shipping lanes.
The islands have long been contentious, but tempers boiled over when Japan bought the islands from private Japanese owners last week. In response, China sent patrol ships into the water around the islands, drawing objections from Tokyo.
The protests in China began over the weekend and targeted Japanese embassies and businesses. Major Japanese companies, including Toyota, Honda and Canon, temporarily closed operations and urged their Japanese employees to stay indoors. The Chinese government has moved to tamp down the demonstrations by stepping up security.
Despite the legal purchase of the islands, China is not giving up their claim so quickly.
"China is no longer a victim of bullying. China will not see its territories violated. The Japanese purchase of the islands will not get in its way," said Hong Lei of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
In a visit to both China and Japan, U.S. defense secretary Leon Panetta urged restraint on both sides, saying that it was "in everybody's interest for Japan and China to maintain good relations and to find a way to avoid further escalation."
"It's in everybody's interest, it is in everybody's interest for Japan and China to maintain good relations and to find a way to avoid further escalation." - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
"In the future, we will continue to follow very closely the evolvement of the situation with regards to this dispute. And we reserve the rights for further action. Of course, that being said, we still hope for a peaceful and negotiated solution to this issue," - Gen Liang Guanglie, Chinese defense minister.
1. Where are China and Japan located in relation to one another?
2. Can you name any current land disputes around the world?
1. How do you think this dispute should be resolved?
2. Do you think the U.S. should have made a statement about the conflict? Why or why not?
3. What do you know about China's history with protesters? Are they handling these protests differently? Why or why not?