Just in case the world did not have enough potential geopolitical flashpoints and near-crises, here comes old faithful – the simmering nationalist rivalry between China and Japan, which may have been pushed to the backburner in light of the grand return of Cold War 2.0, but is neither forgotten nor resolved. In fact, recent developments which have seen Japan fully back the US strategy in Ukraine while China has voiced its support for Russia, will probably only enflame the direct tension between the two Asian superpowers. Moments ago we got the latest manifestation of precisely this when Japan scrambled military jets on Sunday to counter three Chinese military planes that flew near Japanese airspace, defence officials said.
One Y-8 information gathering plane and two H-6 bombers flew over the East China Sea, travelling in international airspace between southern Japanese islands and went to the Pacific Ocean before returning towards China on the same route on Sunday morning, according to a spokesman at the Joint Staff of the Ministry of Defence.
“They flow above public seas, and there was no violation of our airspace,” he said, declining to release more details about the incident.
Japan and China are locked in a bitter territorial row over islands in the East China Sea administered by Japan as the Senkaku Islands, but which China calls the Diaoyu Islands.
Chinese government ships and planes have been seen off the disputed islands numerous times since Japan nationalised them in September 2012, sometimes within the 12 nautical-mile territorial zone.
And then there was the curious case of Libya which threatened on Saturday to bomb a North Korean-flagged tanker if it tried to ship oil from a rebel-controlled port, in a major escalation of a standoff over the country’s petroleum wealth. Because obviously the Mediterranean is far too boring with Greece and Italy now fixed.