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East Asian elections over but territorial disputes still simmer

December 21, 2012|By Carol J. Williams
  • At the Assn. of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Cambodia last month, from left, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda struck an amicable pose despite sharpening disputes over resource-rich islands along the East Asian coast. New leaders chosen since then in China, Japan and South Korea show no signs of putting the divisive territorial squabbles behind them.
At the Assn. of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Cambodia last month, from… (Vincent Thian / Associated…)

Muscle-flexing over the archipelago of disputed islands in East Asian seas featured prominently in the political campaigns that have brought forth new leaders for China, Japan and South Korea.

But don’t expect an end to the posturing and provocations just because the political season is over, Asia watchers say.

China claims that a handful of rocks in the East China Sea is a part of its ancient heritage. Known as the Diaoyus, they are a strategic component of China's mission to project an image of power throughout the region. Japan, which calls the islands the Senkakus, insists the territory has been under its control for more than a century, and Tokyo stands defiant against what it considers China's menacing incursions.

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