China vs. everyone for the islands?

So many interests collide in the northern Pacific that it’s difficult to untangle the different governments’ conspiracies.  Moreover, the chessboard is crowded with pieces, all of them strategic, even though—just like in chess—each one has a different value.  In the end, the game isn’t unique: white against black, or capitalism versus communism like in the cold war.  Instead, they are resurrecting nationalism, essentially simulated over the last thirty years by economic urgencies.  Any serious and impartial analysis must therefore maneuver complex situations in knowing how to imagine complex scenarios and not let itself be involved in the fight and least of all the propaganda.  Chasing after news episodes is a futile exercise, an easy temporary conclusion that neglects the depth of the examination.  The immense ocean area is a daily theater of provocations, announcements, retaliations, and appeals to international governments.  The political verdict that arises from it is uncertain and frequently temporary.  In this pronunciation it’s possible to extract an important and unprecedented aspect: with the creation of the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the contested islands, China has unilaterally decreed the end of the Peaceful Rise, it’s political ascent according to an expression that China coined.  It wanted to demonstrate that an ancient civilization was reclaiming its place in history without damaging other interests or striking other countries.  The resentment over past animosities should have been concealed by global progress, to which China should have contributed.  Not by chance, this even was labeled with the benevolent expression “win-win situation.”  It’s obvious that the controlled airspaces, reconnaissance aircraft and war ships contrast with the adjective, “pacific,” independent of the distribution of rights or wrongs.  One of the questions to understand is why China is pushing the accelerator of tensions, forgetting the sleepiness imposed on these political disputes and considering that even if conflict erupted over the islands, most analysts still predict that Japan would win even without US intervention for a few more years.  In any case, escalation could give rise to two feared and uncontrollable directions in the north Pacific theater.  The first concerns Japan, the second South Korea.  If forced into a military confrontation, Tokyo has no choice but to further strengthen ties with Washington.  It would give way to different solutions undesired in Beijing: a strengthening of the US fleet in the Pacific and a possible rearming of Japan, of course with US weapons.  Unsurprisingly, Prime Minister Abe decided to increase the defense budget by 2.6% over 5 years.  The purchases would include airplanes for preventative security, landing craft, and personnel carriers.  The increase won’t be capable of breaking strategic equilibriums, but it represents a turn with respect to the pacifist politics adopted after WWII.  It would serve to revitalize the economy, offering opportunities to the industrial giant, confined to civil applications until now.  Furthermore, the Nippon government recently increased financial aid to ASEAN countries.  Formally, it’s a matter of economic cooperation, but the political impact in the search for allies against the Chinese emerges with clarity.  The possible enmity with Seoul is probably more disruptive, who also claims one of the contested islands.  Even though officially in the US’s court—and therefore allied with Japan—South Korea has excellent economic ties with China.  Its multinationals have invested heavily there, with reciprocal advantages.  The recent contrasts have made the old rancor with Tokyo emerge, always reluctant to recognize the severity of the colonial period imposed on Korea.  Under this light, the harmony between Seoul and Beijing is immediate, cemented by a post-war period that didn’t reconcile the past.  Despite this, China seems to forget these aspects, setting off towards a souring of tensions.  It’s highly possible that South Korea, if forced, could not help but chose the US’s side.  And the US, in fact, annoyed by many historical squabbles between South Korea and Japan, condition their support to create a communal front that surmounts historical disputes over Korean “comfort women” and the fierce Japanese dictatorship in South Korea in the first part of the last century.  In conclusion, the fundamental question remains: why is China choosing an increasingly narrow path without possibility of escape that would force it into a military solution, to lose credibility and prestige, or to find itself faced by an allied South Korea and Japan endowed with an autonomous nuclear defense capacity?