Sunday, January 24, 2010

Resource Disputes Flare in East Asia

East Asia remains a region dominated by xenophobia and nationalist rivalries that will ultimately undercut its current economic dynamism.

The running disputes over various 'islands' in the East and South China Seas are one signpost of these rivalries. At their root are turf battles over oil and natural gas in a region where both are in scarce supply. UN law gives sovereign rights to the resources around any island that a nation stakes legitimate claim to.

Japan's government plans new legislation that will bolster its claim to an island disputed with China by allowing it to build ports or other structures there, the Nikkei business daily reported ...

If the new bill is enacted, the government would be able to build and maintain ports and other infrastructure in remote islands such as Okinotori, which lies about halfway between Guam and Taiwan, 1,700 km (1,050 miles) from Tokyo, the Nikkei said.

1'Japan eyes bill to boost disputed island claim - media' - Reuters
2'Japan's plans for atoll not to change its legal status' - China Daily

Deep seated national pride, mixed with xenophobia, will also cause problems for countries like South Korea and Japan as their populations age. South Korea's birth rate is among the lowest in the world. Japan's working age population is in decline. And even China's will begin falling within a decade, ending their 'reserve army' of surplus labor. Immigrants are going to be necessary for countries that continue with the growth-based capitalist model; countries that are set up to welcome them are in much better shape in this regard. This is not the case for any country in East Asia.

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