The questioning of Japanese sovereignty over the Ryukyu Islands, including Okinawa, by Chinese scholars appears to reflect a new Beijing approach toward antagonistic foreign governments.

A May 8 commentary in the official People's Daily newspaper by two researchers at a top government think tank — the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences — asserted that the kingdom of the Ryukyu Islands was a Chinese vassal state during the Ming and Qing dynasties, and concluded: "It may be time to revisit the unresolved historical issue of the Ryukyu Islands."

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, asked if China accepts that "the Ryukyus and Okinawa are Japan's territory," responded evasively: "Academics have long paid attention to the history of the Ryukyus and Okinawa."