The island dispute between Japan and China has escalated into a political crisis with Japan moving to purchase them and China sending in patrol ships.
China diplomatically has lodged a claim of ownership of the disputed islands to the United Nations.
The US has claimed to not be taking sides on the issue. The islands are however, covered by a US/Japanese Security Treaty since after WWII. The US provides Japan with high tech surveillance of the islands and is bound to support Japan in the event of the islands being attacked. Leon Panetta has restated this support.
China has warned the US not to meddle in this affair.
Press TV has interviewed Mr. Bill Jones, Executive Intelligence Review from Washington. The news analysis also seeks points of view from Mr. Paul James, host of China Radio International and Mr. Lin Dinh, political analyst and writer.
What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.
How strong do you see this anti-Japanese sentiment in Beijing and is it actually going to affect how the government is going to act?
I think it has been a very serious problem and obviously there is a lot of emotion that is tied up into it for understandable reasons. The issue of the (Singako) Diaoyu islands is more complicated than probably any other territorial conflict that China has since they do have legitimate claims over hundreds of years to the possession of these islands, but that the Japanese, in the aftermath of the beginnings of the conflict in 1895 occupied areas including these (Singako) Diaoyu islands and held onto them until the end of the Second World War.
And then at the end of the Second World War when the United States was allied with China they were in agreement with these islands going back to the Chinese. But the Cold War came along, China became an enemy, Japan became a greater friend and a treaty was signed in San Francisco, which effectively brought the islands under US initially and then Japanese surveillance.
The US policy is however not very clear with regard to this. They have not said that this is a part of Japan, which would be covered by the US Japanese Security Treaty. They've said a number of things; they've been ambiguous.
At this point they're very concerned that this will lead to a conflict and this is a conflict that the US wants to avoid.
Speaking of the regional allies of the United States in the East China Sea region… What is at stake basically for the United States in all of these conflicts and is the US, although it denies it, actually taking sides?
I don’t think the United States really wants to take sides, I think what Hilary Clinton says is accurate. First of all they don't want these conflicts to lead to military confrontation between any of the parties.
Now, one might say rightly that the Obama shift, the pivot to Asia had strengthened some of the more radical elements both in the Philippines and possibly in Japan to move even further in this direction, thinking they had the backing of the US.
So the US has a very difficult game - on the one hand they want to make sure for their allies that they will be strong supporters, but they also want to indicate to them that if a conflict is created by the allies and not where the allies are not victims, they do not have an interest in going in to defend them.
So it's a very dangerous game and the division within the US administration is very strong. There are those who want tougher moves against China and there are others who are more sensible and reasonable who want to try and calm things down.
My impression of the Panetta visit is that he would be there, he took an extra day in Beijing, which I found to be very interesting and I think he would want to urge them and I believe and hope that he urged the Japanese that they should really cool down a little bit and let this thing be settled over time and not overreact, which could lead to military conflict.
Who can basically determine who is going to in the long run own these islands? Is this something that can be resolved?
I think in the long term it probably can be resolved. China has presented its claims to the United Nations. They are taking diplomatic measures to get this resolved in terms of looking at the historical documents on this.
I think that will take a while, but I think if enough legal minds get involved in on it, it probably can be resolved. Whether the Japanese would be happy with that or not is - if it were decided in favor of China - is a difficult situation. But I think the overall situation can only be broached in the conditions in which there is general economic growth in the region.
And as was indicated earlier, Japan is a great investor in China. China needs that investment. That should be encouraged. The Japanese and the Chinese should look at their relationship not from the narrow standpoint of whose islands are these, but from the standpoint of, how do we develop East Asia so that all of our countries can begin to develop.
And I think if that attitude is taken, this issue can be resolved, maybe not to sign it to either of the two nations, but in creating a kind of a common and joint ventures in the region where the real issues of ownership is kind of put to the side for the benefit of the development of the whole.