As ties between China and Japan plunge to their lowest in decades over territorial dispute, an amendment passed by the U.S. Senate to make the Diaoyu Islands covered by a U.S.-Japan security pact will boomerang.
The U.S. Senate approved the amendment on Thursday to acknowledge application of a U.S.-Japan security treaty to the Diaoyu Islands. The measure was interpreted by Japan's Kyodo News as "intended to keep China's moves to assert its claim in check."
Although the measure, attached to the national defense authorization bill for 2013, has yet to be approved by the U.S. House and signed by President Barack Obama, it could embolden the Japanese rightists to continue defying the international order established after World War II.
The amendment is sending a disturbing message to the world that the U.S. Senate does not want the row over the Diaoyu Islands to subside. Instead, it is seeking an escalation of the territorial dispute in the coming year, and heralding a downward spiral of the China-Japanese relations.
However, the lopsided move will impair the much-hyped U.S. pivot to Asia strategy, depriving Washington of the chance to gain advantages achieved by a peaceful and prosperous Asia.
Prosperity only comes from peace and stability. There will be no regional prosperity if both China and Japan's commitment to development is disturbed by deteriorating relations, let along regional peace and stability if Japan is allowed to challenge the world order and resort to militarism.
The United States benefits from the Chinese and Japanese economies, which are highly interdependent. Surely the Sino-Japanese economic and trade ties will bear the brunt of a prolonged dispute over the Diaoyu Islands, thus thwarting the anemic U.S. economic recovery.
For Washington, to stir up territorial disputes between Asian countries may, in short term, facilitate its pivot to Asia strategy. However, the act, which encourages confrontation rather than cooperation, will not serve the long-term U.S. interests in Asia.
Asia and the Pacific are big enough for both China and the United States. The Asia-Pacific, one of the most dynamic regions, welcomes any country willing to promote and share its peace and prosperity. However, the participant must respect the sovereignty of countries in the region and honor its taking-no-position promise.
Neither the U.S. Senate nor the Japanese rightists can change the fact that the Diaoyu Islands are Chinese inherent territory since ancient times.
Also, the China's determination to defend its territorial sovereignty should never be underestimated. The attempt by the U.S. Senate to muddy the waters over the Diaoyu Island dispute will backfire against itself.