The Role For The U.S. In The East China Sea Dispute

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The dispute between Japan and China over small islands in the East China Sea is escalating. The two nations first dispatched unarmed vessels to stake their claims, then patrol boats, and then, unarmed aircraft.

Most recently, both countries sent fighter jets to the islands — known as the Senkaku in Japan, and the Diaoyu in China. The islands are uninhabited, but sit in a strategic location between Japan and Taiwan.

On a recent visit to China, Joseph Nye, former chair of the National Intelligence Council, heard officials there describe this dispute in the context of Cold War containment policy. In a piece in The New York Times, he explains that the U.S. efforts in the region are seen as part of a campaign by the United States and its allies to isolate China and restrict its navy's access to the Pacific Ocean.

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