KANEOHE, Hawaii — Japan and China have wisely stepped back from the political brink in the East China Sea. But if the past has anything to say about the future, there will be similar serious confrontations at sea disturbing not only relations between the disputants but the security regime in Asia. Indeed, Japan and South Korea have had similar serious faceoffs regarding the Dokdo/Takeshima islets in the Sea of Japan.
This instability is not acceptable — not only for the parties directly concerned but for their neighbors and extra-regional partners. What is needed is some guidelines or an agreed declaration of expected behavior in disputed areas that could avert such confrontations.
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