Just over a month ago, I wrote about the difficulty international platforms such as Google maps have in naming disputed geographic features. Recent incident in the East China Sea involving a Chinese fishing boat and Japanese Coast Guard vessels around disputed Chinese/Japanese islands is showing how intense and complicated these issues can be.

After cutting off official ties, I am curious if we could see a similar fluctuation in online traffic and/or links between Japanese and Chinese blogs, websites, etc. Does an online decrease proceed or follow the official decision from the Chinese government to suspend high-level contacts between the two governments? Will online cross-links between the languages show an increase before (or after) resumption of normal diplomatic relations? I don’t have the time to develop the dataset fully now, but this could be a fruitful area of inquiry.

A comment in Chinese on the second story indicates the difference in how Japanese and Chinese media are handling the event.

我曾经看过日本有关这个的一则新闻 让我极其不爽的就是他宣称那个岛屿是他们的 是我们中国人先撞了他们的船
The claim I’ve seen in Japanese media that the Chinese ship first hit the Japanese Coast guard vessel makes me unhappy.*

In line with my previous research about the Haitian earthquake (I really promise this should be online soon), I would not be surprised if online news media links between the two countries were absurdly low or non-existent. In my research, I found most of the cross-lingual links were created by individuals writing alone or in small groups.

*My Chinese is really elementary, and I’m happy for someone to contribute a better translation.

Note: This post was originally published on Scott Hale's blog on . It might have been updated since then in its original location. The post gives the views of the author(s), and not necessarily the position of the Oxford Internet Institute.