On the sidelines of the Sochi Olympics, speculation brewed saying that China and Russia might enter into an agreement regarding their territorial disputes with Japan. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s summit meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe raised great curiosity, given the tension between China and Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands and the ongoing dispute between Russia and Japan over the Northern Territories/South Kuril Islands.
The speculation is not new, and once again appears misguided.
The speculation dates back to September 2010, when China and Russia issued two joint statements committed to “support each other on sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.” The inference drawn is that the statements indicated a Sino-Russian united front was reached in pressing their claims to the disputed areas with Japan. However, the wording is ambiguous at best, leaving out explicit mention of the disputed areas while specifically mentioning joint support for their positions on Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, the Caucasus region and former Soviet countries.
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This op-ed appeared in Defense One on March 7, 2014
Photo by Anvarja via Flickr