China, the U.S., Japan: Spot The Honest Broker

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been playing the peacemaker in the dispute that won’t go away between Beijing and Tokyo. She proposed hosting a trilateral meeting with her Chinese and Japanese counterparts to discuss the two testy neighbors’ territorial dispute in the East China Sea and to try to ratchet down the tension, which has remained grouchy, to say the least, at the East Asia Summit in Hanoi which has brought them all to the same table, or at least corridors. Clinton’s proposal has got a gruff brush-off from Beijing behind the usual diplomatic language pledging to “make concerted efforts to contribute to a positive, cooperative and comprehensive China-U.S. relationship in the 21st Century.” Perhaps that is because Clinton said during the Japanese leg of her Asian swing that the U.S. considers the disputed islands in question, the Diaoyus to Beijing, the Senkakus to Tokyo, which now administers them, within the scope of the U.S.-Japan defense alliance. That scarcely leaves the U.S. as an honest broker.

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