China-Japan conflict over oil heats up


While much of America's attention has been focused on hurricanes, the Supreme Court, the close German election and unpredictable North Korea, Japan and China have continued their fighting over natural resources beneath the East China Sea. Both of these economic powers claim different boundaries for their exclusive economic zones (EEZ)surrounding each country. 

Now, according to the Japan Times, China has begun extracting natural gas or oil from an area of the East China Sea near a disputed boundary with Japan.

Top officials in Tokyo are expressing concern.  On Tuesday, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said:

"We have confirmed there is a flame on a stack at a drilling facility set up by China in the East China Sea."

The Japan Times goes on to say:

Under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, a coastal country can claim an EEZ extending 200 nautical miles from its shore.

Both Japan and China signed the treaty, but the United Nations has until May 2009 to rule on claims.

The Tianwaitian field is located just a few kilometers away from the median line claimed by Japan as the boundary between the two countries' EEZs.

While the drilling platform is on China's side of the median line, Tokyo is concerned that the Chinese consortium might siphon off resources on the Japanese side.

While economic ties between Japan and China are white—hot, this is just the latest example in long list of disputes that has turned diplomatic relations ice—cold.

Why does the world community have to wait until 2009 for verdict from the United Nations? 
If this article is correct, can a concerned observer conclude that slow decision—making at the United Nations making the sitution more unstable?

Washington better have some contingency plans ready to go, if things start to spiral out of control. Stay tuned.

Brian Schwarz   9 21 05