Japan, China to jointly develop gas field: statementOkumura Jun has written at length and with erudition about his fears regarding the agreement's inviting speculation that Japan is not willing to defend its full claim to the seabed in between the geographic mid-point line and the Okinawa Trough.
TOKYO (AFP) - Japan and China agreed Wednesday to jointly develop a disputed gas field in the East China Sea, resolving a longstanding row between the Asian powers, a Japanese foreign ministry statement said.
Japanese companies will participate in the existing development of the Chunxiao gas field, which Japan calls Shirakaba, a statement said.
"To make the East China Sea a sea of peace and cooperation and friendship, Japan and China have agreed to cooperate," the statement said...
My view on the agreement is more sanguine and two-fold.
First, in terms of the conduct of international affairs, China has had a history of losing to Japan whenever the two sides argued about sovereignty over a bit of territory. I could understand a Chinese wish to hold border talks with everybody except the Japanese, preferring to handle those boundary disputes through a hearkening back to the Edo Period practice of keeping the line between the Sinitic and Nipponic spheres vague...rather than revisiting the chain of conflicts from the 1874 Japanese invasion of Taiwan onwards--fights that erupted largely from the early Meiji government's ingesting wholesale the praxis associated with the Westphalian state system.
Second, since it is impossible to send even one cubic meter of the natural gas under the East China Sea to Japan (there is a trough in the way) without sending the gas first to the coast of China via a seabed pipeline, the fight over development of the gas resources was largely about pride (hokori)...and when talking about the importance of pride in economic negotiations, one has to remember Ferengi Rule of Acquisition #109:
Dignity and empty sack is worth the sack.Japan gets the chance to call the East China seabed its own without fighting a shooting war with the Chinese over it, the possibility of linking up with the Chinese pipeline network and a share in an existing platform.
That's a net gain.
Most of the canonical Ferengi Rules of Acquisition can be found here.
The story bringing this whole post full circle is here.