China Wants Land; Russia Needs Babies

By Varadarajan, Tunku | Newsweek, December 24, 2012 | Go to article overview

China Wants Land; Russia Needs Babies


Varadarajan, Tunku, Newsweek


Byline: Tunku Varadarajan; With Luke Darby and Jane Teeling

This land is my Land

China violated Japan's airspace for the first time in 54 years, when a military surveillance plane flew over the Japanese Senkaku Islands, which Beijing claims as its own and calls the "Diaoyus." It was the most provocative incident to date in the territorial dispute between the two states, and Japan scrambled eight F-15 fighter jets to pursue the Chinese aircraft, which slipped back into Chinese airspace. The Chinese have engaged in ever-bolder incursions into Japanese territorial waters around the minuscule islands, these actions being of a piece with China's larger strategy of maritime assertiveness in the Far East. Particularly striking have been Beijing's nonnegotiable claims to vast swaths of sea that abut Vietnam and the Philippines, as well as the strident nature of the anti-Japanese discourse in China. The Senkakus have been under Japanese control since 1885, when, as terra nullius (or land belonging to no one), they were occupied by Japan and passed into Japanese sovereignty. China acquiesced to Japan's title until 1970, not once raising a claim to the islands; but then, with evidence of oil in the islands' vicinity, Beijing took to asserting title over them. The U.S. has not taken a formal position on the sovereignty of the Senkakus, but has made it clear that the U.S.-Japan security treaty would extend protection to the islands. Experts believe that the Chinese incursions are intended to influence the U.S. to exclude the islands from the treaty's ambit, for fear of being sucked into war with China.

What's in a Name?

Rather a lot, if news from Mingora, in Pakistan's Swat Valley, is any indication. Mingora is the town where Malala Yousafzai, a 12-year-old schoolgirl, was shot by the Taliban, who were incensed by her advocacy for female education. Her cause was taken up by Pakistan's government, which flew her to the U.K. for medical treatment and which renamed a local college the "Malala Yousafzai Girls College." Far from inspiring local girls, however, this name change has sparked indignant protests, with students ripping down her posters in the institution and clamoring for her name to be erased from the signboard outside the front gates. …

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China Wants Land; Russia Needs Babies
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