Senkaku Madness Rumbles On
Two pieces of news highlight how the recent showboating by the PRC and ROC over the Senkaku Islands is still causing waves.
Taiwan’s National Symphony Orchestra has had visas for the Beijing stop of a tour of venues in the PRC cancelled for its three Japanese members. Visas for Shanghai and Wuxi were granted and then
the PRC and ROC contrived an argument over the sovereignty of the Senkakus with Japan to divert attention away from domestic political difficulties the dispute over the Sekakus Islands flared up and the Beijing authorities denied the visas. It doesn’t get much petty than this folks.
In other news, Japanese tour operators are cancelling tours to Taiwan ‘owing to security reasons’. Since Japanese tourists still comprise a large number of the annual foreign tourist visits (Chinese now comprise the largest group of foreign visitors) this is ostensibly starting to hurt the local tourist industry. Interestingly, it is not Taiwanese that the Japanese are worried about receiving flak from but Chinese tourists:
Citing travel service providers, the reports said the cancellations were mainly caused by concern among Japanese tourists about possible unpleasant encounters with Chinese visitors during their stay in Taiwan.
It’s not for me to reassure Japanese tourists that the chance of unpleasant encounters is minimal to non-existant. Whilst I think it highly unlikely that that would happen, I can’t rule it out. Sadly, it would take one ambiguous incident for people to jump to the conclusion that their fears were realised. I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen. One thing this does show is that perception drives international relations as much, if not more, than actual facts on the ground. Also, for all the MAC and President Ma’s assurances, it seems Japanese media still suspect a United Front on the Senkaku Spat:
The Japanese news media’s extensive coverage of the incident led ordinary Japanese citizens to perceive that Taiwan, Hong Kong and China were collaborating to fight against Japan over the Diaoyutais issue. This misperception further caused would-be Japanese visitors to worry about their travel safety and cancel their Taiwan travel plans, the reports said.
Although this is largely out of the hands of the Taiwan Government, certainly Ma’s manipulation of this spat has largely contributed to such accusations rather than assuaged them. Actions speak louder than words after all. Also, shockingly, some Japanese are worried that their students will be at risk whilst on study tours in Taiwan:
Most of the cancellations involved corporate incentive tours, the reports said, adding that some Japanese schools have canceled Taiwan-bound short-term study programs because school authorities were concerned about their students’ safety.
Wow. This may of course be over reaction born of Japanese media reports scaring Japanese parents but if I were the Taiwanese Government I would think long and hard about the kind of reputation you are giving the Taiwanese when other countries no longer think it safe for their students to come to your country to study.