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Conflict has arisen between China and Japan over governance of areas and territory in the East China Sea. The conflict stems from the signing of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) by several Asian countries including China and Japan (UN News Center 1998). China and Japan understand the terms of this agreement differently; China declares it has control of 350 nautical miles off its coast due to the existence of a continental shelf (Bush, 67). However, Japan claims a portion of the same territory due to the fact that UNCLOS allows countries to control 200 nautical miles off its shores for Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ’s) (67). There happens to be a portion of the East China Sea where these radii stretching out from China and Japan intersect; and that has led to several continual disputes and a threat. On September 13, 2012, after Japanese penetration into the countries’ overlapping waters, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei declared; "We urge the Japanese side to make concrete efforts to correct its mistakes, immediately stop activities that undermine China's sovereignty, and come back to the understanding and consensus reached between the two sides, and return to the track of settling the dispute through negotiations" (Xinhua September 13, 2012). Although China’s threat was implicit with no actual statement of repercussions if Japan did not submit, the threat was still effective because the Japanese evacuated the waters. China’s threat was credible enough due to its overwhelmingly larger military than Japan’s even though China has hesitated in the past to use military intervention as in the case of Taiwan. China could increase its credibility for future threats if it used its military more often: proving that it is willing and able to defend its borders and territories.
The area of the East China Sea in dispute is valuable for a number of reasons. The sea provides a buffer zone between the two countries; it is an economic zone; the Diaoyu Islands are present in the area; and most importantly gas and oil fields may be present in the area (Bush 67-68). These aspects of the region were enough to convince Japan to breach the UNCLOS agreement and enter China’s waters several times in February (Xinhua February 29, 2012). “A Chinese vessel radioed the Japanese […] ship Takuyo and called on it to stop its activities in disputed areas of the East China Sea”, but Japan only returned to the area seven months later (2012). Japan violated China’s sovereignty of the waters by illegally purchasing the Diaoyu Islands from a “private owner” in order to nationalize the property (Xinhua September 13, 2012). Thus, China issued the threat and demanded Japan return the islands and evacuate the waters. China’s government declared that it “had made clear its opposition and taken a series of effective countermeasures to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial...