As China and Japan are involved in a spar to gain control of a tiny group of islands in the sea
between them, the deeper issue is whether which of Asia’s two biggest economies will first gain
control of the valuable oil and natural gas located there.
Since mid-September, a number of Chinese ships have sailed close to the eight uninhabited
islands in the East China Sea in order to assert its claim there.
Japan now controls the islands, known as the Senkaku in Tokyo and the Diaoyu in Beijing. It
had announced in September that it was buying the islands, which sparked mass street protests in
China and a diplomatic crossfire so intense that US officials have urged calm.