Diaoyu Islands

I’ve been avoiding this topic because a.) it’s being covered all over the place, and b.) I see it as one of those hopeless messes that cannot be resolved, as I see many foreign policy issues around the world. But this recent Global Times editorial popped out at me for its war mongering and hostility.

Japan’s increasingly radical approach over the island disputes is pushing the Diaoyu issue toward a military confrontation. The Japanese government is dangerously fanning the flames in East Asia.

Both China and Japan should be cautious in mentioning military clashes. Creating a war scenario should be a taboo for officials. Japan has to be clear that the hatred of Japan’s invasion is still buried in the Chinese consciousness. A rising China will by no means allow military humiliation by Japan to happen again.

World War II is long over for Chinese. But Japan repeatedly reminds us of that history. Tokyo has never honestly faced that war. No sincere remorse can be felt in its attitude toward China. On the contrary, it tries to make up for defeat in the past with new sources of conflict with its neighbor.

If a new war breaks out between China and Japan, it may well take on an aspect of revenge. Let it be said, however, that China has no plan to square up with Japan. Hatred toward Japan has been a topic of restraint in Chinese media and in remarks by officials. In the Diaoyu issue, Japan has repeatedly mentioned the deployment of Self-Defense Forces.

Japan mustn’t go too far in provoking China. Japanese officials should think twice before uttering provocative words. In modern history, all the conflicts between China and Japan were caused by Japanese invasion. Japan has no right to attack China bitterly as it does today. The Chinese public has boundless antipathy toward Japan.

At least it’s honest. We all know the disputed territory is claimed by China mainly because of its appearance on Ming Dynasty maps as part of the country, and that no one cared about it until the 1970s when the area was found to have valuable natural resources like oil and gas. The seas around them also harbore valuable fish. By that time, the islands had been handed over to Japan by the US which took control of them after WWII. Japan had claimed them since 1895. (You can read a good overview of how this situation evolved over here.) China would almost certainly not care a fig about them — or at least not to the point of threatening war over them — if they weren’t rich in resources.

This has become much more than a clash over territory. It has awakened all the old anti-Japanese sentiment (not that it had ever abated) and this editorial says as much. It is an admission that the wound China feels over Japan for not apologizing sufficiently for their brutality and war crimes of WWII still fester as if new, and that the dispute is largely fueled by “boundless antipathy toward Japan.” In such a hate-filled atmosphere there is no room for rational discussion. China is so prickly on the topic that a diplomatic solution seems impossible. You can’t reason with people blinded by rage. And we saw in recent weeks, with angry demonstrations in some Chinese cities, that this issue touches an exposed nerve. I have to admire the CCP’s knack for fanning the flames of anti-Japanese sentiment with propaganda such as editorials like this.

I am no authority on this issue, and maybe there are other historical factors I’m unaware of that legitimize China’s claim. I know they have fished off the islands for centuries, and that Taiwan also supports China’s territorial claims. All I’m commenting on is China’s bellicose reaction and the swiftness with which it turns a territorial dispute into one of virulent nationalism and hatred of Japan. Just look at the headline of the editorial: Staying calm could be seen as a sign of weakness. Time to not be calm, i.e., time to get furious, and, based on the first sentence I cite, violent.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 78 Comments

I love how the article constantly contradicts itself.

It says to be careful talking about war between the PRC and Japan, but then constantly notes how war is on the horizon between the two and the PRC should be ready to release its “righteous” (read: intolerance and frustration over current conditions in the PRC vented under the guise of personal anger over past atrocities [which only a small fraction of these people actually experienced]) fury onto the Japanese “invaders”.

It says that the PRC has moved on from World War 2, but then notes how it has constantly been on the back of the PRC’s collective mind and remains an active sore point for them.

Honestly, that a group of CPC officials looked and this and said “Yes, this article is a well-written piece which gives full credit to the intelligence of our readers” make me wonder how the CPC has remained in power for the last approximately sixty years. I suppose there is no greater blinder than bigotry and that, when one lives in the belly of the beast, it’s always easiest to believe it has your best interests in mind.

August 31, 2012 @ 12:51 am | Comment

Leave it to the Global Times, my alma mater. The article betrays all the irrationality behind China’s saber-rattling. I pity Hillary Clinton who is starting a tour of Southeast Asia that will deal heavily with China’s influence in the region and undoubtedly its claims to the South China sea, another powder keg of an issue. She will have to walk a very delicate line.

August 31, 2012 @ 1:04 am | Comment

“Both China and Japan should be cautious in mentioning military clashes. Creating a war scenario should be a taboo for officials.”
—the author of the editorial did emerge from his intellectual fog and/or CCP-induced stupor long enough to concoct a couple of reasonable statements, like the one above. Of course, while it might be “taboo” for both sides, it’s apparently more taboo for Japan than it is for China.

August 31, 2012 @ 1:35 am | Comment

It is an admission that the wound China feels over Japan for not apologizing sufficiently for their brutality and war crimes of WWII still fester as if new

Despite the fact Wen Jiabao said a few years ago that Japan had apologised enough.

I actually wonder if Japan can apologise in a way that China will finally accept. I say apologise, because for China to be satisfied at the moment I think Japan would have to be humiliated.

Although there are things that both countries could do to improve relations, like actually agree on the recommendations their own joint committee made about how to deal with the history of the 1930s and 1940s, China unnecessarily complicates things by screaming so much.

August 31, 2012 @ 3:45 am | Comment

Richard, if you pity Hillary Clinton, save a few seconds to pity the Dalai Lama’s negotiators, too. It’s hard to measure the effect of propaganda, but the most worrying thought is that many Chinese readers will probably find all these press products pretty normal.

August 31, 2012 @ 5:23 am | Comment

So true. Call a conference, draw a line, divide the spoils. Hell, start a joint venture or joint research project. Solved.

August 31, 2012 @ 8:58 am | Comment

China’s geography truly sucks. Surrounded by powerful states (Japan, Korea, Russia, India), rising middle powers (Vietnam, Indonesia), and (almost) failed states (NK, Pakistan, Afghanistan), with each trying to broaden its international space and bolster its national security, these sorts of disputes are almost inevitable. Fueled by fear and hatred toward China and the obvious fact that it is the largest claimant in this convoluted web of territorial quarrels, China is often seen as the instigator. I actually think China’s in a pretty sad situation where it can’t actively pursue its maritime security without riling up the neighborhood and drawing in Asia’s true superpower–the US, nor can it simply back down as the Chinese public will see that as a continuation of 1.5 centuries of diplomatic snafus; and that’s not necessarily the CCP’s fault.

August 31, 2012 @ 10:43 am | Comment

Good point by Raj. I can’t see how Japan could make any apology that would be acceptable to China. It’s a great tool for the CCP, as it can never run out of batteries; bar the entire Japanese population killing themselves. Which is unlikely.

I’ve noticed lots of news coverage here in SZ over the last few nights, our boys out letting off AA guns and missiles, preparing for defence of the motherland etc. A population being prepped for war?

August 31, 2012 @ 7:25 pm | Comment

@Ricepaddy – Full-blown war in the Diaoyutai/Senkaku islands as they are right now is essentially impossible. The islands themselves contain nothing of value and are not big enough to build anything on – there is nothing to capture or occupy. It’s possible that naval/air combat might occur in the air and sea around the islands, but such a war would be pointless – it would result in an open-ended commitment to permanently patrol and exclude the other side from an area which right now both sides have access to.

Basically, the news coverage is just an attempt to let people know ‘we’re ready’ without having to actually do anything.

August 31, 2012 @ 8:04 pm | Comment

@I can’t see how Japan could make any apology that would be acceptable to China.

By not electing racist and war crime denier politicians like TOKYO GOVERNOR, Shintaro Ishihara, by not bowing to pressure by conservatives of showing films about Nanking, comfort women, or any related issues about WWII Japan that is deemed controversial to conservatives, by removing WWII war criminals from the Shrine.

How will Israel and Jewish victims of Nazi Germany feel if those things are happening in modern day Germany?

September 1, 2012 @ 12:54 am | Comment

Jason has a point, up to a point. Ultimately, I wonder how Japanese people feel about her 20th century past. I wonder if a rehashing of WW 2 Japanese atrocities is something that sits well with them.

As for “denier” politicians, were they elected on a platform that featured their “denial” opinions? Or were they elected because the electorate felt they were capable of doing the job, and they happened to be “deniers”? It’s possible that “deniers” are a big deal to some FQ types, but are not a relevant characteristic for Japanese voters.

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I agree with FOARP. The only reason Diaoyutai, the Shoals, and whatever else they’re bickering over is of value is because of what sits below the sea floor. All the other nationalistic posturing is merely for FQ consumption. To tap into those resources, you need to drill. What’s the point of even trying to put up a platform if they would be the one and only target in the event of hostilities? War makes no sense at all, if for no other reason that all the “winner” gets is something that would be impossible to defend.

September 1, 2012 @ 1:37 am | Comment

Ishihara gets re-elected because he’s seen as a maverick who does what’s best for Tokyo. His views on the war don’t appear to be relevant to many people, and I would challenge anyone to show that he has put them at the centre of his election campaigns.

As for Yasukuni-jinja, that’s a religious matter. Japan is not like China where the CCP controls pretty much everything. The government cannot order the shrine’s priests to do anything, and the priests have indicated they will not change the status-quo.

The Japanese don’t care about the past much, and the more Chinese people scream about it the more the Japanese will put their hands over their ears to block out the noise.

September 1, 2012 @ 2:00 am | Comment

@As for “denier” politicians, were they elected on a platform that featured their “denial” opinions? Or were they elected because the electorate felt they were capable of doing the job, and they happened to be “deniers”? It’s possible that “deniers” are a big deal to some FQ types, but are not a relevant characteristic for Japanese voters.

Say Germans voted for a racist and a Holocaust denier politician (not in a gazillion years) for a metropolitan area in Germany, would you characterize most of the media and victims of the Holocaust who vehemently criticizes voters’ decision who creates an angry international frenzy as irrevlant because the voters think the politician they pick will do the job or being a FQ? In reality, you won’t defend the voters who voted for a Holocaust denier as most people will criticize you and some may give you death threats.

September 1, 2012 @ 2:14 am | Comment

As for Yasukuni-jinja, that’s a religious matter. Japan is not like China where the CCP controls pretty much everything. The government cannot order the shrine’s priests to do anything, and the priests have indicated they will not change the status-quo.

While the government can’t tell the shrine to do anything, they could refrain from visiting it. The excuse that the shrine is the only place they can honor Japan’s fallen war dead is a poor one, as couldn’t the Japanese government easily construct a shrine with public funds that honors all the dead except war criminals?

Behind all the quasi-apologies for WW2 conduct, Japan still has a significant attitude of resentment towards the constant demands by other Asian countries for a full apology. A full apology would include implicit criticism of their god-emperor for encouraging genocidal policies, which is something Japanese culture can’t really accept.

The biggest mistake that US policymakers ever did in Asia was believing that there was a false dichotomy between keeping the old Japanese colonial structures in place in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan and letting those countries succumb to Communism. That choice was the original sin which laid, in essence, all the groundwork for China’s ascension to the status of regional hegemon decades later.

September 1, 2012 @ 3:07 am | Comment

Holocaust-denial is a crime in some places (exhibit A: google Roeland Raes of Belgium). So while your attempt at comparison is admirable and even adorable, it is (as it is most of the time with you people) flawed. Meanwhile, the Tokyo politician’s position is not a crime, even if it is distasteful. Time to reach for a better and more applicable comparison. Good luck.

September 1, 2012 @ 3:17 am | Comment

I used to live in Japan, and personally, the Yasukuni shrine makes me sick – a shrine dedicated to, amongst others, executed war criminals, has no place in a democratic society. The former prime minister visiting it was a slap in the face for Japan’s neighbours. However, the last three prime ministers have not visited the shrine, and the present government is committed to not visiting the shrine, so I do not see why it should be an issue any more.

Ishihara is a loud-mouth, but he does not represent Japan. Again, why should what he says become an issue? At most, it would seem advisable to treat him the same way Jörg Haider (who was elected in Austria) was treated – refuse to meet with him.

@t_co – Personally I don’t see how modern-day Japanese can apologise for things that they did not do, and do not see how such an apology would be meaningful.

September 1, 2012 @ 3:26 am | Comment

Apologies are rare in East Asia, and when they come, they usually come under pressure. When the Taiwanese government reacts to Japanese insults against former “comfort women”, for example (happened again just a few days ago), I get the impression that this is a sincere reaction that really comes on behalf of the former victims. When it comes from Beijing, power, not the rights of the former victims, is the issue. That’s a big problem when China demands Japanese apologies, or more decent behavior from Japanese politicians.

September 1, 2012 @ 3:32 am | Comment

Apologies are rare in East Asia, and when they come, they usually come under pressure. When the Taiwanese government reacts to Japanese insults against former “comfort women”, for example (happened again just a few days ago), I get the impression that this is a sincere reaction that really comes on behalf of the former victims. When it comes from Beijing, power, not the rights of the former victims, is the issue. That’s a big problem when China demands Japanese apologies, or more decent behavior from Japanese politicians.

And it is all the more fault of the Japanese politicians for handing Beijing this opportunity, no?

September 1, 2012 @ 3:36 am | Comment

Basically if MacArthur had actually had the good sense to be an actual nation-builder instead of a mere anti-Communist, he would have pushed for the Japanese to “de-Imperialize” the same way the Germans were forced to “de-Nazify”. This would naturally include abolition of the position of the Japanese emperor. But he didn’t. And America’s position in East Asia was, from that moment onwards, forever tainted.

September 1, 2012 @ 3:38 am | Comment

And it is all the more fault of the Japanese politicians for handing Beijing this opportunity, no?

Let me put it this way, t_co: German war crimes against the Soviet Union were much less an issue in Germany – as far as I remember – than war crimes in countries that were seen as allies (France, the Netherlands, to name just two). The few former Soviet citizens who got compensated by Germany only got those compensations during the past decade. In those terms, Germany and Japan aren’t really that different. What is different – as far as I can see -, is that there was a real dialog between Germans and people from Soviet nationalities, not least Russians. But that’s something that can only work if both sides want it to work.

I don’t think it’s “all the more fault of the Japanese politicians”. A politician who insults former victims is an asshole, and should be held liable (in the interest of the Japanese society), but that would be that. Beijing’s views may be politically influential, but I don’t think the CCP is in a position to be morally puffed up. And puffed up they’ll get, no matter what Japan does. In that regard, I agree with Raj and Ricepaddy.

September 1, 2012 @ 3:49 am | Comment

@JR – A rough estimate for the number of Wehrmacht and SS personnel (who were not all German – there are still plenty of officialny Volksdeutsch Poles here in ex-Breslau) who would have been executed in a real post-war reckoning was at least 10 thousand, and in reality would have at least approached the 50,000 ask for by Stalin.

Of course what really happened were that many thousands of Germans (and others) of indeterminate guilt were worked to death in Siberia

September 1, 2012 @ 5:40 am | Comment

@A politician who insults former victims is an asshole, and should be held liable (in the interest of the Japanese society)…

Except the politicians who insults victims and conservatives who tries to convince theaters to not show horrors of WWII are NOT held liable in Japanese mainstream society whereas German has shown tremedously sensitivity towards their past war crimes.

When Ishihara called the victims of March 11 earthquake/tsunami was a retribution for ‘egoism’ of Japanese. Most Japanese politicians and Japanese people pressured Ishihara to apologizes which he later did but when it comes to denying the Nanking Massacre, no apology was ever made. What accountablity from the Japanese society are you talking about?

September 1, 2012 @ 6:44 am | Comment

Of Von Paulus’ army of 95,000 which surrendered only 5,000 got to return to the motherland.

Nazi depredations in the east would not have been possible without the eager majority assistance of Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians, and lets not forget Austria, a persil nation par excellence. And I’m not even going to mention those garbage Mittel Europeon entities like Romania and Bulgaria.

The last pogrom in Europe took place in Poland that sewer of archaic catholicism.

September 1, 2012 @ 10:10 am | Comment

Callous douchebaggery by sundry Japanese politicans aside, it’s hard to imagine just what kind of an apology Japan could make that would be acceptable to the Chinese. “We were a complete pile of shits, the worst of humanity, and the actions of the Imperial Japanese forces throughout East and South East Asia in the 1930′s and 40′s were vile beyond comprehension. We’re sorry”. Would an apology like that be accepted by the Chinese? If so, what would happen after that? China never mentions Nanjing again? And would any Japanese politican be able make such an apology?

September 1, 2012 @ 10:23 am | Comment

Jason: If you want to dictate to Japanese politicians what they can and what they can’t do, you, personally, should have won the world war in the Pacific.

Japanese society would be better off if they’d address the issue of war glorifiers head-on – but that’s up to Japanese society, it’s their choice, not Beijing’s, and that’s good.

September 1, 2012 @ 11:21 am | Comment

One of my grandfathers was captured in Russia, and returned in the late 1940s, Foarp. That probably made him a comparatively lucky man. Another relative returned to Germany at about the same time. Many on his train were starving, and somewhere along the way, he and another companion went off the train, which took long halts along the way, and begged in the city – in their torn Wehrmacht uniforms. They got enough food to save their lives, and the lives of those on their wagon who had survived up to there. My grandfather never mentioned Russia. The other relative mentioned Russia frequently, and with a lot of respect. Unfortunately, there were no therapies for traumatized veterans at the time. How you lived with the memory depended on yourself, and your own experience.

I’m aware of atrocities from both (or all) sides. The important thing for my country is not to forget who started it, and not to forget what went on inside Germany, and in the countries under its occupation.

September 1, 2012 @ 11:41 am | Comment

Callous douchebaggery by sundry Japanese politicans aside, it’s hard to imagine just what kind of an apology Japan could make that would be acceptable to the Chinese. “We were a complete pile of shits, the worst of humanity, and the actions of the Imperial Japanese forces throughout East and South East Asia in the 1930′s and 40′s were vile beyond comprehension. We’re sorry”. Would an apology like that be accepted by the Chinese? If so, what would happen after that? China never mentions Nanjing again? And would any Japanese politican be able make such an apology?

This is what Japan could do:

The important thing for my country is not to forget who started it, and not to forget what went on inside Germany, and in the countries under its occupation.

Replace Germany with Japan in the above sentence.

That, and properly vilify the WWII high command and the WWII Imperial family. It’s not about owning up to what atrocities were committed, but about punishing the power structures which let such atrocities happened, permanently dismantling them, and reconfiguring Japanese economic/industrial structures towards pacifism; and finally, the establishment of a joint East Asian military command structure that subordinated all Japanese military units to the high commands of other countries.

As a Chinese nationalist, that would appease me, because it would mean permanent neutering of Japan’s challenger status to Chinese hegemony Western Pacific. That is precisely how the rest of Europe got comfortable with German reunification; it is no secret that Europeans on both sides of the iron curtain (including Margaret Thatcher, Mitterand, and Mikhail Gorbachev) did not want Germany to ever get strong again unless Germany gave up its military independence to the EU and NATO. I would have no bones with a Japan that is strong, so long as its strength can never again be aimed at its Asian neighbors in any form or fashion.

September 1, 2012 @ 1:25 pm | Comment

The last paragraph in the post above is not my own personal PoV; it’s the PoV of what the Chinese establishment thinks when it comes to the proper way to deal with Japan.

In a related note to that, the Chinese establishment’s long-term goal is not to “defeat” the United States. It wants the US to simply limit itself to Western Hemisphere hegemony, and play a possible “balancer” role between China, Russia, and the EU if necessary. The nations that most dislike this shift are not the United States but rather the US’s Asian allies, foremost among them Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Thailand; much as Poland and the Baltic states fear NATO disengagement from Eastern Europe and Latin America hates the Monroe Doctrine.

Small states inevitably suffer under the sort of “spheres of influence” worldview China and Russia are pushing. The United States wouldn’t suffer.

September 1, 2012 @ 1:32 pm | Comment

As a Chinese nationalist, that would appease me, because it would mean permanent neutering of Japan’s challenger status to Chinese hegemony Western Pacific.

A nationalist’s desire for respect is insatiable. That’s what defines a fenqing nationalist, and it’s usually them who vent their feelings. It would be great if both China and Japan would address the – very different, but both criminal – sides of their respective histories, but that’s up to them.

One more thing: if China feels challenged as a hegemon, that should be their problem. I see no reason why there should be a hegemon with natural rights to rule or control sovereign foreign countries.

September 1, 2012 @ 2:48 pm | Comment

One thing is for sure: when it comes to discussing Japan, t_co’s demons get the best of him. The extended delusion he just articulated on “punishing the power structures” should be a mark on his record.

As for the view that the US’s position in East Asia is “forever tainted”, one wonders where to begin. Perhaps by noting that authors like Liu Mingfu have spent far too much time abusing the notion of original sin in precisely the same way?

Or perhaps simply by stating there appears only one “hegemon” welcome by multiple countries in the Western Pacific, no matter the Chinese sense of injustice at this development. I suspect part of the reason is the nation in question doesn’t use the word hegemon liberally, but I suppose it’s a source of peculiarly ambivalent frustration for some that the US is either too stupid or too crafty to just get out of the way.

justrecently

I thoroughly agree with your comments in post 29. The notion that China’s “natural place in the world” necessitates dominating influence over its neighbors can only be countenanced by people for whom the word “big” has astonishing implications.

September 1, 2012 @ 8:57 pm | Comment

@t_co

So, just to recap, by away of apology the Japanese should not only come clean to themselves about their own history (oh, that all countries could do that!), but they should also restructure their economy, society and politics, and hand the guns over to their neighbours?

Have I got that right…?

The last paragraph you quote is intersting, in that it seems to be asking ‘what is the best way to keep Japan tied down?’, rather than asking ‘what’s the best way to ensure lasting peace in East Asia?’

September 2, 2012 @ 12:44 am | Comment

One thing is for sure: when it comes to discussing Japan, t_co’s demons get the best of him. The extended delusion he just articulated on “punishing the power structures” should be a mark on his record.
As for the view that the US’s position in East Asia is “forever tainted”, one wonders where to begin. Perhaps by noting that authors like Liu Mingfu have spent far too much time abusing the notion of original sin in precisely the same way?
Or perhaps simply by stating there appears only one “hegemon” welcome by multiple countries in the Western Pacific, no matter the Chinese sense of injustice at this development. I suspect part of the reason is the nation in question doesn’t use the word hegemon liberally, but I suppose it’s a source of peculiarly ambivalent frustration for some that the US is either too stupid or too crafty to just get out of the way.

Again, because China’s centers of industry and GDP are all along its coast, then China can never be secure so long as China is not the hegemon in the Western Pacific. As long as someone else’s navy is within striking distance of major Chinese cities, China is not secure. This isn’t some virulent nationalistic response; this is a basic tenet of geopolitics.

In the above scenario, the US isn’t even the major threat here since the 7th Fleet, by and large, is based all the way in Hawaii. No, it’s the JMSDF that is the major threat, and will remain so until the JMSDF is integrated into a regional defense structure. No one is calling on Japan to surrender an inch of its territory or a stone of its fortresses; defeated fascist regimes should be forced to rescind their ability to ever make war upon their neighbors. Germany had to pay this price, and so should Japan.

The US is forever tainted by its refusal to really dismantle Japanese nodes of power, just as it deserves a healthy amount of credit for permanently ending the prospect of an intra-European war with NATO’s eastward expansion and (forcible) integration of French and German defense units into a mutual defense pact.

Right now, only the US is welcome as a hegemon because of Cold War legacy concerns. These concerns are lifting, slowly but steadily. That’s why the United States is pivoting to Asia–because it feels this natural position is being threatened. That’s the wrong response to ensure lasting peace in Asia, because China cannot and will not allow any other nation to hold the security of its richest maritime provinces hostage. Again, this is not virulent nationalism, this is just geopolitics.

In sum: the Chinese establishment does not wish Japan to suffer in revenge for past injustices. The Chinese establishment wishes to bind the Japanese military under an Asian defense structure, so as to prevent any future tragedies from occurring.

September 2, 2012 @ 2:23 am | Comment

So, just to recap, by away of apology the Japanese should not only come clean to themselves about their own history (oh, that all countries could do that!), but they should also restructure their economy, society and politics, and hand the guns over to their neighbours?
Have I got that right…?
The last paragraph you quote is intersting, in that it seems to be asking ‘what is the best way to keep Japan tied down?’, rather than asking ‘what’s the best way to ensure lasting peace in East Asia?’

This is exactly what West Germany did to get trust from its neighbors, and exactly what Japan should do.

No one wants to keep Japan down; the point is to make sure Japan can never threaten any other East Asian country militarily, again.

September 2, 2012 @ 2:25 am | Comment

A nationalist’s desire for respect is insatiable. That’s what defines a fenqing nationalist, and it’s usually them who vent their feelings. It would be great if both China and Japan would address the – very different, but both criminal – sides of their respective histories, but that’s up to them.
One more thing: if China feels challenged as a hegemon, that should be their problem. I see no reason why there should be a hegemon with natural rights to rule or control sovereign foreign countries.

If that is your definition of a nationalist, then no, I am not one. My desire is for China not to be respected, but to be safe and have its interests preserved. That’s the difference between the fenqing who say what China should do and the policymakers who actually… do.

September 2, 2012 @ 2:51 am | Comment

Holy shit.

September 2, 2012 @ 3:00 am | Comment

Holy shit.

?

September 2, 2012 @ 3:08 am | Comment

This is exactly what West Germany did to get trust from its neighbors, and exactly what Japan should do.

But it’s not going to happen. No sovereign nation would do that in peacetime. It would take a major war, with China victorious, to bring that about.

Unless, of course, I am missing something. Short of such a war, is there any way China can achieve these aims?

September 2, 2012 @ 9:58 am | Comment

“As long as someone else’s navy is within striking distance of major Chinese cities, China is not secure. This isn’t some virulent nationalistic response; this is a basic tenet of geopolitics.”

No, it is autism. Assuming we favorably overlook your obsession with “neutering”.

“In the above scenario, the US isn’t even the major threat here since the 7th Fleet, by and large, is based all the way in Hawaii.”

Half of 7th fleet is based in Japan and Guam. Other ships rotate in. I don’t think ignoring this and pretending it is all about Japan’s SDF is wise. The PLAN is under no such illusions, and they do not hide whom they are targeting.

“No, it’s the JMSDF that is the major threat, and will remain so until the JMSDF is integrated into a regional defense structure.”

Pardon me for pointing out the obvious, but it largely has been integrated into a regional defense structure–that of the US’s making. The JMSDF’s capabilities have thus been held in check, though not by binding. By providing a force which makes those capabilities redundant.

“No one is calling on Japan to surrender an inch of its territory or a stone of its fortresses;”

Really?

“defeated fascist regimes should be forced to rescind their ability to ever make war upon their neighbors”

Since you were waving the word Imperial around earlier, how about defeated empires? How about the fact that Japan is neither a fascist regime nor an empire today? That it has a pacifist constitution?

“The US is forever tainted by its refusal to really dismantle Japanese nodes of power.
Right now, only the US is welcome as a hegemon because of Cold War legacy concerns. These concerns are lifting, slowly but steadily.”

The funny thing about this insistence on original sin is that it’s always someone else’s sin, which reveals that the person utilizing the claim doesn’t understand it. Moreover, it’s not even remotely accurate, so I struggle to understand why you insist upon it. I might speculate that you have been overly influenced by large strains of the Asian-American community who have bitten off this narrative and project their own desires (and resentments) onto geopolitical developments. If polls conducted in several Asian nations show an increasing willingness to host the US military, would that be enough for you to recognize this is not merely a Cold War legacy? Because that’s precisely what polls in Japan and Korea do show.

“That’s the wrong response to ensure lasting peace in Asia, because China cannot and will not allow any other nation to hold the security of its richest maritime provinces hostage. Again, this is not virulent nationalism, this is just geopolitics.”

Stamp your feet, as you please. But the rhetoric here merely shows how twisted the opinion is. The maritime province is not China’s to begin with, and no nation is holding it hostage.

September 2, 2012 @ 10:05 am | Comment

Going to reply to this later, but

The maritime province is not China’s to begin with

What? You do realize I’m referring to the coastal strip from Dalian to Hainan, right?

September 2, 2012 @ 1:18 pm | Comment

Pardon me for pointing out the obvious, but it largely has been integrated into a regional defense structure–that of the US’s making. The JMSDF’s capabilities have thus been held in check, though not by binding. By providing a force which makes those capabilities redundant.

True. Then the logical step is to shift the JMSDF away from the US defense structure and towards a Chinese defense structure. That would really be the only way to guarantee China’s security & sovereignty at the same time.

When China accepts the US providing security for the Western Pacific, then China accepts the US providing security over its own coastal regions, which is just flat unacceptable. China is a great power with a coastal flank and an inland one. Currently the inland flank is secure thanks to the focus of Af/Pak being directed towards India, Russia, and the United States. China should strive to keep that situation going as long as possible. But along China’s coastal flank, China’s security is guaranteed by another sovereign power. That makes no sense whatsoever. It is unacceptable and therefore the primary reason for China’s naval and air buildup.

September 2, 2012 @ 1:24 pm | Comment

Half of 7th fleet is based in Japan and Guam. Other ships rotate in. I don’t think ignoring this and pretending it is all about Japan’s SDF is wise. The PLAN is under no such illusions, and they do not hide whom they are targeting.

Then the point is to get them away. Convince the US, whether with force or diplomacy, that such an arrangement is in no one’s interest, and that the world would be a more peaceful place if the Western Pacific was under regional as opposed to Washington-led security arrangement.

It *can* be done, given time and sustained naval/air spending by a growing Chinese economy versus a slowing US one.

September 2, 2012 @ 1:30 pm | Comment

But it’s not going to happen. No sovereign nation would do that in peacetime. It would take a major war, with China victorious, to bring that about.

Aye, and there’s the rub: the reason Germany is still bound hand and foot in Europe is because that was the price Europe (read: France+Britain) extracted in order to allow Germany to reunify. Asian countries had no such carrot to dangle in front of Japan, which is a tragedy. It would have been much better for East Asian security had Japan been split in two as Germany was.

September 2, 2012 @ 1:33 pm | Comment

Again, this is not about being a Japanophobe: it’s about the fact that an independent, technologically advanced, and militarily strong Japan will forever be a threat to China since so much of Chinese prosperity rests upon stability along both its inland and coastal flanks. It would be as if Great Britain and Canada were still rivals to the US in North America, and GB/Canada based lots of naval vessels mere hundreds of miles away from New York and Washington.

From the Chinese policymaker PoV, when they pursue actions like building up a strong navy and try to push out the United States, they aren’t trying to seek revenge for the 19th century: they’re trying to ensure that a repeat of the 19th century never can happen to China again, and if that means creating and leading an Asian security order, then so be it.

September 2, 2012 @ 1:38 pm | Comment

The funny thing about this insistence on original sin is that it’s always someone else’s sin, which reveals that the person utilizing the claim doesn’t understand it. Moreover, it’s not even remotely accurate, so I struggle to understand why you insist upon it. I might speculate that you have been overly influenced by large strains of the Asian-American community who have bitten off this narrative and project their own desires (and resentments) onto geopolitical developments. If polls conducted in several Asian nations show an increasing willingness to host the US military, would that be enough for you to recognize this is not merely a Cold War legacy? Because that’s precisely what polls in Japan and Korea do show.

Of course Japan wants the US around; it’s the only way they can remain relevant in East Asia. The tragedy of E Asian geography is that between China and Japan, only one country at a time can be fully sovereign (e.g. militarily unfettered) without both countries feeling insecure.

As for Korea, this is only because North Korea is retarded. Force a grand bargain instead. Whenever South Korea pushes on the Americans, China should force North Korea to give a little. Eventually the South Koreans will get the message and do the right thing. Let the Koreas unify, and they will naturally drift into the Chinese orbit. If they don’t take the high road, there’s a long border by which China can exert more traditional forms of influence, with the 7th Fleet geographically incapable of helping out.

September 2, 2012 @ 2:05 pm | Comment

t_co: Germans didn’t deeply distrust the French or the British in 1989/1990, and they relied on America, in case of a doubt. That’s a completely different starting position. To suggest that Japan should submit to Chinese hegemony is – how can I put this politely? – Beijing-centrist. I’d never give my country’s independence – economically or militarily – up to a government that abuses its own people. Beijing itself is sufficiently aware of that. If they wanted to test the waters you are testing here, they’d assign a CASS scientist to that task.

September 2, 2012 @ 2:43 pm | Comment

@Handler

“I might speculate that you have been overly influenced by large strains of the Asian-American community who have bitten off this narrative and project their own desires (and resentments) onto geopolitical developments.”

What do you mean by this?

September 2, 2012 @ 2:43 pm | Comment

What? You do realize I’m referring to the coastal strip from Dalian to Hainan, right?

I think with the “defense structure” you are advocating, there wouldn’t be much of a difference between China’s maritime provinces and Taiwan anymore, t_co.

September 2, 2012 @ 2:55 pm | Comment

I don’t think the case of Germany/Europe has any relevance here in the case of Japan. The two regions have very different geopolitical arrangements. I’d argue the single most important factor in Europe’s post-war integration was neither Anglo-French magnanimity nor German penitence. The fact is the entire region was under the protection of NATO, and NATO was owned by the US. In terms of security, all these European states were only semi-sovereign to begin with; that fact alone made integration palatable and indeed feasible. In East Asia, such conditions do not exist. But it’s easy to see that the two states that are under a common security umbrella–South Korea and Japan–would maintain peace despite their equally prominent territorial dispute over Dokdo/Takeshima and the bad blood between the two over WWII history.

t_co does have a point in that without a common security mechanism in the region, mutual threats will continue to exist. But it’s not at all inevitable that China should acquire regional preponderance. Again, the trouble in East Asia, or Asia in general, lies in its geography. Even if one doesn’t subscribe to the notion of differing civilizations clashing with one another, the sheer size of polities in this region (China, India, Russia, Japan) renders even superior US power insufficient in guaranteeing security to all. In short, size matters. Shared values and political ideologies won’t necessarily change things. Democratic India would invariably treat American entreaties much more coolly that authoritarian regimes in Hanoi and Singapore. What we’ll likely continue to see is the traditional power balance being played out.

September 2, 2012 @ 3:19 pm | Comment

“What? You do realize I’m referring to the coastal strip from Dalian to Hainan, right?”

My apologies, I should have said the richest. You do realize from the PLAN’s perspective (and their strategy to “break out”) this is all about Taiwan first and foremost, upon which they hope to later build outward.

That is the only “province” in danger in the Western Pacific, the only province one could reasonably say was held hostage by any nation, assuming we accept that nation is the PRC. The rest of what you offer here is mindless (even if you are articulating someone else’s POV) nationalist rhetoric, calling up a threat where there is none.

“But along China’s coastal flank, China’s security is guaranteed by another sovereign power. That makes no sense whatsoever. It is unacceptable and therefore the primary reason for China’s naval and air buildup.”

It makes no sense because either you can’t wrap your head around the idea that other nations in Asia have interests too, or that small nations’ interests matter, and you can’t accept that the US provides security for a host of nations in Asia. Nevertheless, it still makes sense. It’s China’s hostility toward the US, etched deep in the tablets of the PLA primitives, which makes this appear situation appear difficult to comprehend. Repeating the word unacceptable when it has been accepted for a long time now is deeply benighted and duplicitous.

“Convince the US, whether with force or diplomacy, that such an arrangement is in no one’s interest, and that the world would be a more peaceful place if the Western Pacific was under regional as opposed to Washington-led security arrangement.”

Except that it would hardly be possible for the Western Pacific to be “a more peaceful place”. The US has guaranteed peace and stability in the Western Pacific (and the economic growth the PRC claims is contingent upon that) for decades. The last major conflict in the region was one provoked by China.

“It would have been much better for East Asian security had Japan been split in two as Germany was.”

(Facepalm) Yeah, look how well that worked in Korea. I hope you realize how disturbed you sound.

“It *can* be done, given time and sustained naval/air spending by a growing Chinese economy versus a slowing US one.”

Oh sure, it can be done. But, assuming nations in the region continue to prefer the US, it will take force, and the Chinese government is rather foolish to believe the US will back down from such a conflict. Just as the Chinese government is foolish to believe it will be able to keep such a conflict limited.

September 2, 2012 @ 3:52 pm | Comment

Handler, I think the future will depend on at least three kinds of stakeholders – China, its neighbors, and America. China could become more reasonable (but I doubt they will), and America’s relations with other East and South-East Asian nations will need to transform into a partnership, rather than into hegemony. The proof of the pudding is if China’s neighbors are prepared to do their part in an arms race, or if they want to leave that mostly to America. In the second kind of situation, America would be playing the role of a hegemon, and that of a useful idiot.

Therefore, a lot will depend on China’s neighbors themselves. American hegemony isn’t sustainable, and American involvement depends on countries like Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, etc.

September 2, 2012 @ 4:24 pm | Comment

“It would be as if Great Britain and Canada were still rivals to the US in North America, and GB/Canada based lots of naval vessels mere hundreds of miles away from New York and Washington.”

Your comparison flaunts how little connection you have with reality when speaking on Japan. Perhaps you should ask yourself why the US and Britain have not been rivals for nearly 200 years, despite the fact that there was a severe force disparity between them for roughly two thirds of that time. Perhaps the “tragedy” you refer to is one of your own making, wherein you can see no better relationship with Japan than one of vulnerability or subjugation.

“they’re trying to ensure that a repeat of the 19th century never can happen to China again, and if that means creating and leading an Asian security order, then so be it.”

And if they can’t lead because no one wants to follow, then what? Co-prosperity II?

“Of course Japan wants the US around; it’s the only way they can remain relevant in East Asia.”

It’s this type of dismissiveness that leads to your impasse. You can’t fathom that the US’s relationship with Japan has evolved into more than an economic/military one; indeed, it is increasingly an institutional and cultural relationship. Also, you can’t admit that Japan will remain relevant for its economic clout, size, and technological capacity, regardless of whether the US is there or not.

“As for Korea, this is only because North Korea is retarded.”

Sir, step away from the Asian-American community. Your knowledge of the US’s relationship with Asian nations is being severly hampered. Since 2007 polls in South Korea have indicated a wider acceptance of US military presence in South Korea (70% of Koreans stating they do not want the US military to leave). The same polls have also indicated that the primary reason was NOT North Korea, as only a decided minority felt threatened by potential North Korean aggression.

Events of the past 3 years determine that US cultural and political influence will increase in Korea while China’s once-growing clout will decrease. China’s abuse of South Korean reporters, its culpability in the torture of North Korean refugees, its netizens’ persistent hostility toward South Koreans on internet sites, its protection of North Korea after the Cheonan incident, its weapons sales–all these have severly impacted its reputation in South Korea. After a generation of of anti-American influence from leftist professors (who have since lost their models), the US is once again winning the hearts and minds of Korea’s youth. And with patently manipulative attitudes such as the one you just gave voice to, I’m afraid China simply can’t help itself.

Perhaps you’ve heard, when typhoon Bolaven hit South Korea recently, many were upset that the highest number of casualties in South Korea were Chinese. No, not because it was regarded a tragedy. The Chinese were illegally fishing off of Jeju island, you see, when the storm capsized their boats.

September 2, 2012 @ 4:30 pm | Comment

t_co

“China could become more reasonable (but I doubt they will), and America’s relations with other East and South-East Asian nations will need to transform into a partnership, rather than into hegemony.”

Agreed. And I think that process is underway.

September 2, 2012 @ 4:34 pm | Comment

I wonder how differently the western media coverage would be if the current scuffle had been between the governments of Taiwan and Japan, instead of China and Japan. On paper at least, the nationalist government in Taiwan had never recognized the inclusion of Diaoyutai with the Ryukyu Islands during the US/Japan handover in 1972, and continues its claims to the islands. Civilian protests have also never ceased since 1972, with periodic flare ups.

The key to resolution of the Diaoyutai/Senkaku dispute is interpretation of historical/geographical status as part of the Ryukyu Islands, or part of Taiwan.

September 2, 2012 @ 10:24 pm | Comment

[...] Global Times (English ed.), Aug 27, 2012 H/t to Peking Duck [...]

September 2, 2012 @ 11:26 pm | Pingback

I wonder how differently the western media coverage would be if the current scuffle had been between the governments of Taiwan and Japan, instead of China and Japan.

A Taiwanese government spokesman welcomed the use of an ROC flag by Hong Kong activists last month(it was planted there along with a PRC flag). He said something like the flag had been in an adequate place, if I remember correctly what I overheard on Taiwanese radio. Just as a recent statement from Taipei concerning Japanese insults of Taiwanese “comfort women”, the statement about the flag was a businesslike statement. One can disagree with it, but one can’t say that it was a stupid statement, given that Taiwan maintains those claims. That’s quite different from the Global Times article quoted in the post above.

September 2, 2012 @ 11:35 pm | Comment

This is exactly what West Germany did to get trust from its neighbors, and exactly what Japan should do.

No one wants to keep Japan down; the point is to make sure Japan can never threaten any other East Asian country militarily, again.

First, I would observe that any limits on the German military are German in origin. Its neighbours have no problems with it having a military and indeed would like it to be a bit more proactive. When on any military operation, the Germans love to throw restrictions in that mean they can’t actually pull their weight.

Second, Japan’s military was suppressed and under Allied control for a long time, much like Germany’s was. Indeed, West Germany was allowed to re-establish its military quite quickly after WWII, even if its assets were limited.

Third, Japan continues to have self-imposed limits on its military. For example, they have no ballistic or cruise missiles, despite the fact that China, North Korea, Russia and even South have or are developing such weapons.

Fourth, although West Germany had little choice in the matter, there was at least trust that France, the UK and others wouldn’t stab it in the back. The threat of the Soviet Union meant that efforts within NATO were focused outward, rather than inward.

On the other hand, Japan has no East Asia wide defence organisation to join and no mutual threat that would mean its neighbours wouldn’t try to take advantage of its new vulnerability. Indeed, given many Chinese and Korean nationalists talk with glee of their desire to sow Japan’s fields with salt at the first opportunity, I’m not sure it’s realistic to ask Japan to disarm to try to gain their favour.

But if China really, really, really would like to see Japan boot out American forces and spend even less than 1% of GDP on defence, maybe it could force Pyongyang to disarm. E.g. threaten to turn the lights off. Anything else is a case of trying to have your cake and eat it.

September 3, 2012 @ 2:33 am | Comment

There’s a comment by a certain xsc further up which deserves some attention, I believe. It seems it was only freed from the spam queue a while ago.

Raj, the trouble with German self-restraint lies in our constitution (basically the same as in 1949). Even the military tasks Germany has taken in places like former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan or the Horn of Africa, while permissible according to the Constitutional Court, would be less contested if “out-of-area” deployment had been the “founding fathers’” intention. The best thing – if more German military abroad is really desirable – would be amendments to the German constitution.

If other European countries really have no objections (I’m not so sure about countries like Greece, the Netherlands, or Poland as I’m about Britain or France as far as that’s concerned), there might be good reasons to “throw” in less restrictions. But besides global matters, feelings within Europe matter, too. They are probably not as clear-cut as people in Britain or France – two big countries on a European scale – might think.

September 3, 2012 @ 5:02 am | Comment

@Handler

My apologies, I should have said the richest. You do realize from the PLAN’s perspective (and their strategy to “break out”) this is all about Taiwan first and foremost, upon which they hope to later build outward.
That is the only “province” in danger in the Western Pacific, the only province one could reasonably say was held hostage by any nation, assuming we accept that nation is the PRC. The rest of what you offer here is mindless (even if you are articulating someone else’s POV) nationalist rhetoric, calling up a threat where there is none.

Actually, it’s not about Taiwan, it’s about the mainland strip. China doesn’t *want* Taiwan for its wealth, its natural beauty, or whatever resources are on the island. Taiwan matters insofar as it is a hostile launching pad for aircraft and missiles within range of 50% of China’s GDP and nearly all of China’s seaborne energy lanes. Basically, if Taiwan and China had the same history (splitting apart in 1949) but was as far out as Australia, the PRC wouldn’t care at all.

The vital lesson here is that China is fundamentally a wealthy coastal country melded to a third world interior. The interior provides resources and labor; the coast provides capital, brainpower, good infrastructure, and an internal market. Without security on both flanks, China can’t prosper. With any other country in control of either flank, China is not sovereign. China knows this, and it also knows that the last time it engaged in a long spree of economic revitalization (in the 1920s and 30s under the KMT) Japan and its colonies ended up invading it from the coast. China’s mission is to ensure something like that doesn’t happen this time around and that in both zones it is the undisputed master.

Events of the past 3 years determine that US cultural and political influence will increase in Korea while China’s once-growing clout will decrease. China’s abuse of South Korean reporters, its culpability in the torture of North Korean refugees, its netizens’ persistent hostility toward South Koreans on internet sites, its protection of North Korea after the Cheonan incident, its weapons sales–all these have severly impacted its reputation in South Korea. After a generation of of anti-American influence from leftist professors (who have since lost their models), the US is once again winning the hearts and minds of Korea’s youth. And with patently manipulative attitudes such as the one you just gave voice to, I’m afraid China simply can’t help itself.

I could cite a litany of anecdotes caused by the US military presence and how South Korean protestors still burn the American flag on a quarterly basis, but those are just that–anecdotes. The long-term fundamentals boil down to this: China’s size and proximity means that South Korea either hardens up against it on an active basis, or gets dragged into China’s orbit. Hardening up against a giant neighbor is costly from a long-term PoV. As China gets wealthier and more powerful, it gets more and more costly. Eventually the cost to the South Korean institutions–the chaebol and ministries that actually run the country–gets so big that they have no choice but to accede. And since China is the only nation which can make or break Korean unification, and South Korea is not large enough to force China’s hand on that issue, South Korea has no choice but to participate in a Chinese strategic vision rather than an American one.And therein lies the rub: international relations is fundamentally all about having your caking and eating it too. Normatively, there is no moral standard by which nations should give and take power between each other. All I have been explaining here is what China’s *interests* are; that they are in conflict with the interests of some other nations is no surprise and should be no cause to *vilify* China. It simply

September 3, 2012 @ 6:17 am | Comment

Woops, the last few sentences were part of the next comment:

@Raj:

But if China really, really, really would like to see Japan boot out American forces and spend even less than 1% of GDP on defence, maybe it could force Pyongyang to disarm. E.g. threaten to turn the lights off. Anything else is a case of trying to have your cake and eat it.

And therein lies the rub: international relations is fundamentally all about having your caking and eating it too. Normatively, there is no moral standard by which nations should give and take power between each other. All I have been explaining here is what China’s *interests* are; that they are in conflict with the interests of some other nations is no surprise and should be no cause to *vilify* China.

And that is why Japan’s current posture is troubling. Japan wants to make life better for its citizens; ergo unless it has the werewithal to be the undisputed master of the Western Pacific and project force so far into the Chinese hinterland as to completely erase any Chinese capability to project force, then it should not be in the security business in the Western Pacific, because it should realize that projecting force halfway and retaining the ability to disrupt and damage without the ability to annihilate is no formula for peace at all.

Only China has the ability to create a secure order in the Western Pacific. As the time marches onward, that trend will grow more and more certain. Trying to slow that trend down only will cause instability, because a China not in command of the Western Pacific is a China not in command of its coast, which is a China with neither sovereignty or security. Short of having a credible ability to completely annihilate Chinese strength, the only other course of action that leads to peace is accepting regional hegemony from Beijing.

September 3, 2012 @ 6:23 am | Comment

On the other hand, Japan has no East Asia wide defence organisation to join and no mutual threat that would mean its neighbours wouldn’t try to take advantage of its new vulnerability. Indeed, given many Chinese and Korean nationalists talk with glee of their desire to sow Japan’s fields with salt at the first opportunity, I’m not sure it’s realistic to ask Japan to disarm to try to gain their favour.

See the above. It’s not about disarming to gain favor: it’s about tying China’s, Japan’s, and Korea’s security together into a joint framework. The primary hurdle to this, like you said, is those same fenqing that you vilify and ridicule. But if China can look past short-sighted nationalism and play a Bismarckian long game, then it can and will pull this off.

September 3, 2012 @ 6:26 am | Comment

Your comparison flaunts how little connection you have with reality when speaking on Japan. Perhaps you should ask yourself why the US and Britain have not been rivals for nearly 200 years, despite the fact that there was a severe force disparity between them for roughly two thirds of that time. Perhaps the “tragedy” you refer to is one of your own making, wherein you can see no better relationship with Japan than one of vulnerability or subjugation.

I’m sorry? The US and Britain were rivals in North America up until the end of the US Civil War. It was only after the Union demonstrated a willingness to take on over 640,000 casualties that Britain realized it would be a losing battle to try and hold on to any pretense of commanding North America. Indeed, look no further than the views of Britain’s own Prime Minister at the time, Lord Palmerston, to see this PoV:

Palmerston’s sympathies in the American Civil War (1861-5) were with the secessionist Southern Confederacy. Although a professed opponent of the slave trade and slavery, he also had a deep lifelong hostility towards the United States and believed that a dissolution of the Union would weaken the United States (and therefore enhance British power) and that the Southern Confederacy “would afford a valuable and extensive market for British manufactures”

The American assault on Ireland under the name of Fenianism may be now held to have failed, but the snake is only scotched and not killed. It is far from impossible that the American conspirators may try and obtain in our North American provinces compensation for their defeat in Ireland

The relationship between British Canada, Britain, and the United States is surprisingly similar to the situation between Asia littoral, the United States, and China. Indeed, it was not until intra-European rivalries dragged down Britain (World War I) that they became US allies.

September 3, 2012 @ 6:43 am | Comment

Basically, GB and the US were rivals up until 1865; coexisted until 1914; and allies thereafter.

September 3, 2012 @ 6:44 am | Comment

“Actually, it’s not about Taiwan, it’s about the mainland strip.”

If you are talking about holding provinces hostage in any realistic way, it is exclusively about Taiwan. Again, China has accepted the US led security network in the Western Pacific for decades without any threat to its security. Have China’s richest provinces suddenly moved to the coast? Have they been threatened in any way?

“Taiwan matters insofar as it is a hostile launching pad for aircraft and missiles within range of 50% of China’s GDP and nearly all of China’s seaborne energy lanes.”

The hoary Taiwan is a “dagger” aimed at the PRC’s belly argument. So, although this could only come about due to PRC aggression, the PRC must view Taiwan as a potential threat. It’s like a game of squash…in a room of padded walls. And some call this reason.

“Basically, if Taiwan and China had the same history (splitting apart in 1949) but was as far out as Australia, the PRC wouldn’t care at all.”

You have perfected the PRC spokesperson art of saying something you know to be untrue. None of China’s claims to other nations territories are solely predicated on security issues. Proof of this is easily discerned in how PRC spokespersons speak of those claims.

“With any other country in control of either flank, China is not sovereign. China knows this, and it also knows that the last time it engaged in a long spree of economic revitalization (in the 1920s and 30s under the KMT) Japan and its colonies ended up invading it from the coast. ”

China hasn’t been sovereign for decades? This argument is an unsubtle variation of Lebensraum. Moreover, your arbitrary reading of history and what China “knows” verges on the absurd. Not only is such a scenario impossible today, and not only do you completely ignore 30 years of peace and growth which have established far better relations between nations, but in China the standard narrative is that Japan invaded China largely because, despite its growth, China was still a basket case. That’s why (along with potential resources–and conflict with Russia) Japan’s first target was the Northeast, where the Republic had marginal influence, and not the centers of economic activity in China.

“And since China is the only nation which can make or break Korean unification, and South Korea is not large enough to force China’s hand on that issue, South Korea has no choice but to participate in a Chinese strategic vision rather than an American one.”

I suppose hubris like this will be very rewarding. China is clearly not the only nation capable of breaking Korean unification. There are four such nations. And it is certainly not capable of making it. No nation can. The only truth your statement really reflects, once again, is China’s complete disregard for other nations as self-determined actors. North Korea is no less aware of this than South Korea, and its overtures to the United States have included offers of key information relating to PLA positioning and plans. No analysis of China’s relations with North Korea over the past 20 years can determine which of the following two conclusions is accurate: China is willfully engaging in nuclear proliferation with a stable government intent upon carrying out nuclear threats on its behalf; China has–through military insurrection, ideology, outright betrayal, or corruption–let nuclear secrets fall into the hands of a severely unstable government with a long history of belligerent acts and terrorism.

The key thing is: while one of these conclusions is almost certainly true, neither argument, nor any admixture of the two, is good geopolitically for China.

Perhaps you should stop living in the future where everything is inevitably positive for China.

“Normatively, there is no moral standard by which nations should give and take power between each other.”

Perhaps, but we are still responsible for making moral judgments. Your line of argument appears to consider such responsibility nugatory. In this I think you do a fine job representing PRC policymakers’ views.

September 3, 2012 @ 11:23 am | Comment

“The US and Britain were rivals in North America up until the end of the US Civil War. It was only after the Union demonstrated a willingness to take on over 640,000 casualties that Britain realized it would be a losing battle to try and hold on to any pretense of commanding North America.”

This position suggests a limited and overly schematic understanding of history, largely based on an epochal view of the rise and fall of empires. A few years after The War of 1812, the US and Britain agreed upon the US/Canada border, allowing for the joint control of Oregon. While various small boundary disputes did occur between that time and the Civil War, they involved no military engagement and were always immediately resolved by treaties. Additionally, the Monroe Doctrine, which some Sino-apologists have taken as a guiding light for Chinese expansion (by the way, Latin America largely supported it), was actually enforced by the British after they had proposed a joint doctrine to the US. The US was far more concerned with its southern flank during this period than it was with Britain.

One might say this more succinctly: the notion that this constituted a “rivalry” in the same sense China and Japan are rivals is clearly refuted by looking into the magnificent history of Fort Blunder.

True, the US and Britain did have sources of friction, and Britain’s support for the Confederacy (deepened inadvertantly by US seizure of the RMS Trent, did sting, but the two exercised diplomacy admirably, showed restraint and respect, and avoided letting disputes fester.

“The relationship between British Canada, Britain, and the United States is surprisingly similar to the situation between Asia littoral, the United States, and China.”

Clearly not.

September 3, 2012 @ 12:03 pm | Comment

it’s about tying China’s, Japan’s, and Korea’s security together into a joint framework

Folks, are you aware that you are debating a delusional concept? Even if America shouldn’t be able to transform its hegemonial relationship with China’s neighbors into a sustainable partnership, these neighbors have good reasons to play one hegemon off against the other, as long as it can last. The aim to maintain one’s own nation’s sovereignty is a natural and a legitimate one.

These are decisions the stakeholders will have to make – America, China, and every country in the region. But the “advice” that China’s neighbors should simply hand their levers of sovereignty over to China – that’s what that the tie-together would amount to – is only in Beijing’s interest, t_co – if in anyone’s. If China’s attitude remains the same, and if its neighbors get weakened (in themselves, or by an American withdrawal), they may be coerced into that kind of structure, formally or informally. (Beijing would probably prefer a more informal structure.)

If China’s neighbors have better choices, that won’t happen. In my view, it shouldn’t happen.

I’ll try to keep my contributions shorter, and less frequent from here, because I’m getting the impression that all of us are getting distracted by a concept which is actually unattractrive. That’s a waste of energy, and I think we shouldn’t get used to taking unreasonable demands too seriously. There’s no need to do that.

September 3, 2012 @ 3:25 pm | Comment

“Basically, GB and the US were rivals up until 1865; coexisted until 1914; and allies thereafter.”

Disagree – a simple glance at the historical record makes it plain that 1865 was no inflection point in the US-UK relationship.

There was a degree of rivalry over the Canadian border, but by the time of the US civil war this had been settled. Disputes elsewhere in the Americas continued until long after the US civil war (see the dispute over the Venezuelan border). The civil war did not impress people as to the strength of the United States any more than long-running internal conflicts normally impress people. The Fenian raids from the US into Canada (which are what Palmerston was referring to) continued for years after end of the civil war, and were eventually ended by the joint efforts of both sides. The one effect that the civil war did have was to end slavery, and thus remove one of the main sources of friction between Britain and the US. Naval rivalry between the two countries continued until as late as the 1920′s.

Basically this statement appears to stem from the idea that all a country need do is show that it is ‘strong’ and other countries (which are always portrayed as mischief-makers) will cease to to ‘interfere’ in whatever it considers to be in its ‘interests’. Instead this ‘strength’ may well actually be a massive display of weakness (e.g., the only reason the US had such a large army in 1865 was because it was in the process of putting itself back together after tearing itself apart). National governments will continue to persue the interests of their country to the extent possible – hence US support for Japan, Vietnam, and the Phillipines is going no-where.

The idea that ensuring China’s sovereignty requires the infringement of other countries’ sovereignty is quite simply balderdash. None of China’s neighbours will accept that situation permanently.

September 3, 2012 @ 4:26 pm | Comment

ergo unless it has the werewithal to be the undisputed master of the Western Pacific and project force so far into the Chinese hinterland as to completely erase any Chinese capability to project force, then it should not be in the security business in the Western Pacific

Japan looks to defend its interests and itself, largely from North Korea. That is not an unreasonable position.

Only China has the ability to create a secure order in the Western Pacific…the only other course of action that leads to peace is accepting regional hegemony from Beijing.

The western Pacific doesn’t need anyone to impose security on it. It’s generally a safe place, except for North Korea. And that’s a problem that China is not going to resolve by military force. There’s no widespread piracy or external threat that needs to be opposed.

Although I don’t want to cast China as the equivalent of pre-war Germany or the Soviet Union, it certainly is a large contributor to the security threat in East Asia, e.g. its attitude towards Taiwan. If China agreed to resolve all of its sovereign/territorial disputes through peaceful means only, rescind the Anti-Succession “Law”, etc tension in the region would immediately drop several levels. It would be perverse to ask China to deal with security problems it has had a hand in creating. It would be like paying your lunch money to the schoolyard bully so he stops threatening to beat you up.

September 3, 2012 @ 4:31 pm | Comment

Why is everyone narrowly focusing on China? The truth is power dynamics and security concerns change. Otherwise, much of Eurasia would still be bolstering their walled defenses against nomadic hordes. Just because imposed peace via a US-centric security mechanism was successful for decades doesn’t mean it would always be so.

Yes. China is expanding; but only trivially so. If nothing else, a growing economy will inevitably increase global presence. As its economic security is literally tied up in oilfields in the Middle East, mines in Africa and sea lanes beyond its southern shores, it has few choices but to “expand.” (Remember the Libyan evacuation, the PLAN surveillance in the Gulf of Aden, the riots in PNG, Solomon Islands, etc.) Sure, it can rely on American protection, but even if it has no suspicions of potential US sabotage, there is no reason why the US would be willing to foot the bill. When shit hits the fan, as they often do in these parts of the world, what can China do to secure its assets? All this simply because China’s growing. To question the morality of this is to question the morality of lifting hundreds of millions of peasants out of abject poverty. Sure, a substantial percentage of that growth contributed to woeful pollution and exploitative policies both at home and abroad. But the world collectively has yet to come up with a better growth model as even modern Western nations that have moved beyond their colonial past still largely run on a rigged financial system and oil, protected by military hardware.

What about Taiwan? It’s not as if the PRC suddenly decided to claim Taiwan after it gained sufficient confidence. Major nations’ attitudes toward Taiwan sovereignty are nebulous at best. Throughout much of the Cold War, open hostilities between the two sides were not uncommon. China does indeed have missiles pointed toward the island, but Taiwan almost certainly reciprocates such gestures. The ROC constitution probably still claims the whole of China. What’s changed now is that the northern side is becoming more and more capable of defending its claim while the other side is slipping the other way. To characterize this as a pure unadulterated aggression is downright disingenuous.

And there are these little islets and rocks. Well, it takes two to tango. Economic rise is disorienting; relative decline is demoralizing. Neither is conducive to rational behavior. The reemphasized claims by the PRC is no less unreasonable than the US pivot to Asia. And that’s at the root of all this. Neither side believes that it’s acting irrationally, being faithful students of Thuycidides.

The temptation is always there to focus on “it’s your fault first” arguments as it helps score political points domestically, but I truly hope all sides can stop appealing to moralizing and victimhood.

September 3, 2012 @ 6:50 pm | Comment

“The ROC constitution probably still claims the whole of China . . . To characterize this as a pure unadulterated aggression is downright disingenuous.”

You know, if we’re going to discuss this, you need to do a lot better than ‘probably’. The ROC has abandoned the idea that unification can be acheived through military means, but the PRC has not – this is the difference.

“The reemphasized claims by the PRC is no less unreasonable than the US pivot to Asia.”

The US pivot is being carried out with the agreement of the countries which it involves, but no-one has consented to China’s claims in the South and East China seas. Intimating that force will be considered as a solution when in fact it is unlikely to be and would be disproportionate to any benefit acheived is unreasonable.

“I truly hope all sides can stop appealing to moralizing and victimhood.”

So do I.

September 3, 2012 @ 7:12 pm | Comment

@xsc

I should apologize for missing your question in post 46 above. What I mean is that among the Asian-American community there are certain especially enchanting misconceptions due to the collective character of the community’s social and political existence. One is the misconception that the US has failed spectacularly in Asia, when in fact the US has pulled off one of the more remarkable acts of laconic diplomacy in history in a region with which it was insufficiently familiar, among states prone to revanchism and possessed of considerable animosity for each other. While the Asian-American community is aware of the on-going animosity, many lose sight of its (continually developing) sources and seriousness since their own limited political weight in the US requires them to put aside such issues and be more supportive of each other regardless of ethnicity. Thus, similarity of circumstance in the US prompts misleading emphasis on affliation and concourse in Asia, and statistics such as the number of Chinese loan words in Korean are speciously trotted out as proof of the two nations’ affinity while the ROK Marines’ service in Vietnam, the spread of Christianity in Korea, and current US cultural influence is either ignored or disparaged. Simultaneously, in accordance with the collective political character of the Asian-American community, one group’s grievances, both real and imagined, are often echoed by the others, reinforcing a more foundational misconception that the US just doesn’t, as it is sometimes colloquially put, “get Asia”. In essence, the political situation in which Asian-Americans find themselves striving for respect and embracing their distinctiveness is too often falsely projected onto an “Asia” that doesn’t adequately reflect their experience and is not cut from a single cloth.

I speculate that this is the source for t_co’s assertion that the US is “forever tainted” in Asia. While this may hold in a US-based echo chamber of grievance, it would appear the citizens of democratic countries in the Western Pacific would not concur.

Also, I wanted to discourage you from simply conflating China’s economic growth and foreign policy. The disputes it has with its neighbors are not “simply because China’s growing” and are not exclusively related to the economy; rather, they are a contingent constellation of military objectives, diplomatic missteps, and economic concerns.

Also, many is the time I’ve seen Chinese tangoing without a partner to peculiar music in a large regimented group in the park near my home. Make of that what you will.

September 4, 2012 @ 2:33 am | Comment

@Handler, thanks for the explanation.

Indeed, I didn’t mean to imply that economic growth necessarily leads to diplomatic skirmishes. But it certainly sets the conditions for seemingly more “expansionist” policy choices on the part of China. With growing global interests come growing security concerns. As I alluded to earlier, a large country like China would find security reliance on the United States unpalatable. Furthermore, it’s even less likely that the US would have either the means or the will to accommodate a growing China’s security needs. Thus, with growing security concerns come bigger sticks and increased suspicions from the incumbent hegemon and regional stakeholders. Now, are economic growth and security dilemma destined for each other? No. But is there a complex mechanism triggered by economic rise that makes disputes more likely? Definitely.

All this is saying is that despite the rhetoric of “restoring the Chinese Nation’s glory,” developments in East Asia follow familiar patterns of the wax and wane of relative national strengths, rather than, as a priori assumptions would suggest, an aggressive grudge held by the CCP. Deft management of the situation requires better responses from all parties. And China isn’t the only one to blame. Of course, the pivot to Asia has the consent of the nations it involves; but it also involves China, who feels that its interests are being held hostage and isn’t terribly excited by this move. Even the most vociferously anti-China media acknowledge the South China Sea as a region embroiled in disputes, rather than as a united front against Chinese aggression. To view China’s claims to the various rocks and islands as but a first step to some grander territorial ambitions is an unwarranted leap of logic. After all, other states in the region have claims against China and against one another; but the US is already quietly taking sides. From China’s perspective, given Clinton’s targeted rhetoric in Africa (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/01/hillary-clinton-africa-china), the South Pacific (http://news.yahoo.com/clinton-south-pacific-china-focus-054737234.html), even Mongolia (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/10/world/asia/in-mongolia-clinton-offers-message-to-china.html), it’s not hard to guess where it stands in the South China Sea.

And are Chinese claims automatically illegitimate? Let’s take the Scarborough Shoal as an example, as it’s often seen as bullying against a much weaker state. First, claims from both sides are longstanding: China’s claim dates back to the 1930s (ROC) and the Philippines started oceanographic surveys around the area in the 1950s. Many would argue that China’s refusal to refer the case to UNCLOS tribunal reveals its claim is baseless. But this refusal is consistent with its position when it ratified UNCLOS in 1996. “The Government of the People’s Republic of China does not accept any of the procedures provided for in Section 2 of Part XV of the Convention with respect to all the categories of disputes referred to in paragraph 1 (a) (b) and (c) of Article 298 of the Convention.” (http://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/convention_declarations.htm#China Upon ratification). Furthermore, even the Philippines removed the question of sovereignty from areas where the treaty would apply when it ratified the convention. “Such signing shall not in any manner impair or prejudice the sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines over any territory over which it exercises sovereign authority, such as the Kalayaan Islands, and the waters appurtenant thereto.” In other words, neither country recognizes the authority of UNCLOS in this dispute. The fact of the matter is, even the standoff that took place in April was between Chinese surveillance vessels and a Philippine warship. One can argue that the reef is 127 miles from the Philippines and more than 400 miles removed from any Chinese landmass and therefore China’s claim is comical. Well, if we follow the same logic, then Diaoyu Island, being 120 miles off the coast of Taiwan and 200 miles removed from Japan, certainly doesn’t belong to the latter.

Billed as bolstering regional defense, the pivot has seemed to only fan the flames from a Chinese perspective. One needs to recognize that even states with regimes whose legitimacy is questioned have legitimate national interests.

But of course it’s always the other person’s fault coz they started it. I guess in my long rant, I was only imploring people to step back from caricaturizing a complex situation, and that instead of seeking justice in the wrong place, we should probably seek solutions.

September 4, 2012 @ 11:38 am | Comment

“And are Chinese claims automatically illegitimate? ………….. First, claims from both sides are longstanding: China’s claim dates back to the 1930s (ROC)”

Not sure this is a good basis for claims to bits of land. The UK has a claim to Ireland based on about 800 years of rule….

September 4, 2012 @ 12:00 pm | Comment

“Not sure this is a good basis for claims to bits of land. The UK has a claim to Ireland based on about 800 years of rule….”

Not saying it is. In many of these disputes, it’s your ancient map against mine. You can’t vote on it as many of these places are uninhabitable. The basis may be shoddy but it’s no worse than many other claimants’

September 4, 2012 @ 12:10 pm | Comment

” and exclude the other side from an area which right now both sides have access to.”

I am under the impression that is not the case, more than a few Taiwanese and Chinese fishing boats have been arrested in the past few years (and those are just onces I have heard). Taiwan has long asked for at least fishing rights negotiation that seem to have gone nowhere either.

It is of course, problematic as both Japan and China (and many other country as well) applies complete double standards for the various island disputes. if we look from an actual control POV, then Japan does control the islands, but the problem is that they don’t control two of their other disputed islands.

Historic perspective wise, if we’re going to take Japan’s administrative division prior to 1945 as a general rule of thumb, then the amusing thing is that they had divided pretty much all of the South China sea islands according to the current China / Taiwan claim … aka all of it belonged to Taiwan’s governing district. should we horse trade and give Japan 1 island for a whole sea then? since from that logic as Taiwan was given back to the ROC, then all the islands in the ROC’s governing district at that point belongs to the ROC…. which doesnt’ included Diayutai yes but it included all the Spartly isles.

September 4, 2012 @ 7:11 pm | Comment

I don’t believe Chinese claims are automatically illegitimate – that would be a totally foolish position – but I also don’t see how they automatically trump those of her neighbours. What I do think is that these matters are totally unimportant compared to the relations between the countries, and not worth the life of a single serviceman.

September 5, 2012 @ 1:14 am | Comment

Ownership of bits of land is a diplomatic thing, not a historical claim thing. The fact that historically one owned bits of land is interesting but neither here nor there. Alaska was Russian, Vietnam was Chinese, China was Mongolian but no one is bringing that up. One signs treaties, agrees to frontiers and borders, that sort of thing. This pre-19th century imperialism one would have though was a thing of the past….but if it is indicative to the new way of doing things then I guess it’s time Europe reclaimed North Africa as its own again….

September 5, 2012 @ 5:46 am | Comment

Ultimately, my guess is that these islands and spits will be developed collaboratively so that the players involved can actually benefit from whatever might be pulled from the sea floor, rather than endless bickering about ownership on the basis of historical fishing patterns that is unenforceable and will never enjoy international recognition. China would do well in such an arrangement, since she has an interest in multiple areas as opposed tomost of the other claimants. Her problem wil actually be internal – after fanning the flames among the nationalist hothead homeboys, how is she going to sell them a climb-down?

September 5, 2012 @ 8:52 am | Comment

Just imagine if ASEAN acted like the EU – cooperating instead of fighting (I know, I know, the EU member states bicker and point fingers too – but generally it gets sorted in the end)….

September 5, 2012 @ 8:57 am | Comment

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