Cabotinage et escalade dans le Pacifique

TOKYO – L’Exposition universelle de Shanghai s’est ouverte le 1er mai sur un bouquet grandiose de feux d’artifice et battra son plein jusqu’à fin octobre. L’Exposition d’Osaka et le lancement du shinkansen consacrèrent en leur temps, 1970, le formidable essor économique du Japon après-guerre. Le monde se demande aujourd’hui si la Chine suivra les brisées du Japon, si elle saura faire le choix de l’ultra-modernité sans devenir, pour autant, une menace pour la paix.

Elle nous donne des raisons d’en douter. Son empressement à faire montre de sa puissance toute neuve ne se borne pas aux terres et ses ambitions maritimes sont sans limite. En 2007, lors d’une visite en Chine du commandant des Forces maritimes américaines du Pacifique, l’amiral Timothy J. Keating, un officier supérieur chinois avait proposé que les deux pays décident d’une “zone de contrôle” à Hawaï, qui fixe la fin de l’influence navale américaine et le début de la sphère maritime chinoise. C’est précisément l’objectif que cherche à atteindre la marine chinoise, du moins s’en persuade-t-on.

Les intentions de la Chine se traduisent par des démonstrations de force plastronnantes. Le 8 avril, un hélicoptère a décollé d’un navire chinois en manouvre dans les eaux internationales au sud d’Okinawa, pour se promener à 90 mètres d’un patrouilleur japonais – si près que l’on distinguait clairement à son bord un soldat chinois brandissant un fusil. Le Japon, considérant cet incident comme un “acte extrêmement dangereux,” a émis une protestation.

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