Originally published: 29 September 2010
When a Chinese fishing vessel apparently rammed into two Japanese naval vessels on 7 September, few imagined that the ensuing standoff would continue for as long as it did. The incident occurred in waters off the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands in the East China Sea claimed by China, Taiwan and Japan. The Japanese released all of the crew but for the captain of the vessel within a week, detaining the latter for well over a fortnight. Whatever the incident says about Sino-Japanese relations, it is notable also for three important reasons involving Chinese external policymaking and regional responses in general.