Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt spells out why China's feud with Japan over ownership of three islands is more worrisome than many realize:
[T]he current nationalist outpouring significantly restricts China's future options to dial down the situation. For all the government's efforts at censorship and control, the internet has given the Chinese public unprecedented access to information and the tools to instantly spread commentary, eroding Beijing's control over the ebb and flow of nationalist sentiment.
More frequent Chinese patrols in the area, along with the Japanese Coast Guard continuing to patrol near the islands, raises the risk of maritime clashes higher than it has ever been. Although the two countries have dealt with past run-ins — such as when the Japanese Coast Guard arrested a Chinese skipper in 2010 after his boat collided with a Japanese vessel — and succeeded in cooling tensions, the current situation is of a different order. That act could be attributed to an overzealous Chinese fisherman. But now, a skirmish between official law enforcement vessels in the current context could prove irresolvable.
On a lighter note, Joshua Keating explains a peculiar directive from China's propaganda bureau urging censorship of discussion about … the Louisiana Purchase.
(Image: screenshot of the latest doodle by China's leading search engine, Baidu, featuring a billowing Chinese flag planted on the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.)