Culture Conflict Research Paper

Pages: 5 (1663 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: History - Asian

Culture Conflict

The conflict that I have chosen is the ongoing issue with the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. A few days ago, China unilaterally claimed an air protection zone around the islands, informing airlines that they would need authorization from China to fly over the islands. This move is another attempt by China to claim sovereignty over these islands, which have belonged to Japan since the 19th century and were uninhabited prior that. The response of the U.S. was declare China's actions a provocation that challenges the status quo in the area and threatens to destabilize the region (Branigan, 2013). Further response has come in the form of Japanese and American bombers flying over the islands, and China's response of sending its only aircraft carrier to the region (Fishel, 2013).

There is significant background context here. The islands were uninhabited and the Japanese claimed them. They have been held by Japan since that point, with the exception of a period of U.S. protection in the wake of WWII. They were returned to Japan. China is claiming sovereignty based on some unsubstantiated presence centuries ago. Taiwan also claims the islands, ostensibly under the same claim as the PRC, as these two entities are two factions of China still engaged in civil conflict. To this point, the dispute has largely been diplomatic but this move by China has threatened to break the conflict open.

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The actions of the main players in this conflict can be distilled through the lens of intercultural communications. There are definitely some differences in the way that Chinese and Americans communicate, and Japanese as well, so this is a disagree that can be understood at least somewhat on cultural dimensions.

Analysis

Research Paper on Culture Conflict the Conflict That Assignment

One of the concepts in the text is that of intercultural conflict. The Hofstede Minkov book highlights a conflict system design and how important this is to reaching a resolution for an issue like this. The first recommendation here is to negotiate interests. In this conflict, the U.S., China and Japan all have their own interests. The issue at hand is probably not about the islands at all. The problem is that this conflict seems to take on a childish, petty tone almost from the outset. China acts unilaterally to take the islands from Japan, and then cries like a child when it gets its hand slapped. There is not much in the way of mature action in the fingerpointing and name-calling, and the needless provocation. All of this explains why there is a conflict now -- China decided to initiate this conflict -- but that does not give us anything with which we can solve the problem. Negotiating interests is where the solutions will be found.

The interests are different from the issue at hand. China wishes to assert itself on the international stage, having read all about how it is going to dominate the world. The move with these islands is another in a string of moves intended to expand its hegemony over the region. The difference is that this time there is a calculated move to provoke something. The islands are not likely the big concern for China here, but they are looking for a bargaining position of some kind. Thus, it is important to get to the bottom of the Chinese move. China knew what the U.S. And Japanese response would be, and yet it made the move to destabilize things anyway. This tells us that there is a greater interest that underlies this move, and it is that interest that will inform the negotiation.

For Japan, the status quo is the main interest, because it had control of the islands. The U.S. sees more a situation where it needs to play a strong role in the region. This role is more because of the war it fought with Japan and because of North Korea, but now China is becoming heavily involved in the region, so the U.S. has a distinct interest in maintaining a strong presence because of past, present and future enemies, all quite powerful.

The second key concept from the text is that of conflict styles. Different cultures approach the idea of conflict quite differently from one another. The U.S. has a communication style that lacks subtlety. Think "Axis of Evil." China has a communication that is the reverse, a very high-context communication style. So when it announces an extension of its flight zone, it is announcing more than just an extension of its flight zone. In this case, it is announcing more than just that it wants these islands -- all of that was known already. It is up to the U.S. And Japan to correctly interpret China's interest here. It is engaging in conflict for a reason, and that is locked in the context of the conflict If nothing else, China is trying to send a message about its strength.

Both the U.S. And China are using power to achieve their goals. For example, China extends this air zone as a literal means of extending its power. The move is both literal and figurative. The more power China cultivates in the region, the more likely it is to achieve other goals. So for China, the interest here might simply be in building its own power, by showing the world that it is willing to stand up to the U.S. In a very formal manner.

Likewise, the U.S. has its own strong interests in the area, and they do not relate to these islands either. The interest for the U.S. is in stability in the region. Two major conflicts in the middle of the 20th century have led to this view, especially since one of them included an attack on U.S. soil at Pearl Harbor. The U.S. has a distinct interest in maintaining power in that region. China may wish to challenge that power, but the U.S. has an interest in ensuring that it is the dominant force in the area, specifically because of the problems that have occurred there in the past.

So we see that both countries are using power in order to achieve their goals. For the U.S. It is peace and control in the area and for China the ability to extend its territory unchallenged might be its end objective. It is actually not certain what China's ultimate objective is in this situation. Either way, both countries are expressing their power. China has been surprisingly direct in its communication, though there is some context to what it says and even how it says it. The Americans, being a very low context culture, spell their message out to the Chinese in no uncertain terms.

The problem is that this strategy is not going to resolve the conflict. High context communication is likely to be lost on the U.S., which could result in the U.S. wondering what China is going to do. There is plenty of room for misinterpretation of high context communication. Further, the U.S. style of communication seeks to show American strength, but it also backs the Chinese into a corner. They might be embarrassed if the U.S. rebukes their claim so thoroughly, thus compelling the Chinese to stronger action to allow them to save face and appear strong. This is especially likely given that the entire objective of the conflict is probably to make China look strong. If so, then China might be playing a game of chicken here. The U.S. also has a need to look strong, not only to head off Chinese regional hegemony to the detriment of U.S. interests but also because the U.S. needs to maintain leadership in northeastern Asia because of North Korea and because of the Taiwan issue.

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The biggest problem here is that the two sides are not really putting their cards on… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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