Japan has yet to apologize to China for its sins during WWII

Or at least that’s what you’d think listening to the Chinese media and their fenqing followers. But is it true? I don’t think so. In the wake of all the evidence, of course, there’s the knee-jerk response about the Yasukuni Shrine and the nutty revisionists in Japan (and they really are nutty), etc. But that doesn’t alter the fact that Japan has apologized many times over for its atrocities and crimes against China and Korea throughout its war of aggression.

This post was inspired by a Facebook post I saw earlier today from a friend of mine. It’s such a strange topic, so radioactive, so capable of eliciting such white-hot rage from seemingly normal people. I know, the horrors were unimaginable. But to say that Japan hasn’t apologized for them is simply false.

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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: 86 Comments

The Japanese are a profoundly passive-aggressive people. An apology from them is useless because it is always followed by another spit in your face; sincerity being alien to their nature. Which is why I encourage the Chinese people to forgo making any further useless demands from them. As long as they do not interfere with our interests, they can be ignored. If they do stand against us, then appropriate recompense can be had by drowning them in the blood of their sons and the tears of their daughters.

September 5, 2012 @ 11:55 am | Comment

Uh huh…

September 5, 2012 @ 12:05 pm | Comment

Speaking as a new poster but longtime fan of this blog, here’s my take: Japanese politicians have issued many apologies, but few of them appear heartfelt and sincere as long as the issue is still largely ignored on a societal level. Apologies are often shortly followed up with subsequent denials of atrocities. An example is the recent comfort women memorial in New Jersey. At first, Japanese diplomats quietly tried to get the government to disapprove of it, on the basis that the government had already apologized and that the issue was over. As it co tinned, however, the diplomats became more persistent, denied the existence of atrocities, and even threatening harm to US-Japan relations over it. It can’t help but seem extremely double-faced when a politician apologizes for waging. War, then visits Yasakuni shrine, which says inI English) that WW2 was startedby the US and that Japan reluctantly entered the war in order to liberate the rest of Asia. In the case of Shinzo Abe, prime minister, the same person who apologized would later deny atrocities happened. To me, it’s not about the apology, but the total lack of sincerity behind them.

The basic Japanese attitude towards the war seems to be, “Ok, we are super-peace-loving and were reluctantly forced into war, but only because the US bullied us, and we had really good intentions for the rest of Asia. A few bad things happened, but that’s what happens in war, and did you know that Japan suffered a lot, too and even got nuked? We’re sorry we fought the war, but anyway most of those atrocities probably didn’t happen or were exaggerated anyway so were not really all that sorry.”

September 5, 2012 @ 12:23 pm | Comment

I apologize for some of the spelling errors in the above post. I tried to catch most of the damned autocorrect’s “corrections”, but missed a few of them.

September 5, 2012 @ 12:25 pm | Comment

A synopsis of the comfort women issue can be found here:
http://ampontan.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/you-go-first-part-two-of-two/

One of the Korean colonisation here:
http://ampontan.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/you-go-first-part-one-of-two-parts/

A explanation of why the Rape of Nanking is seriously flawed is here (apologies – I don’t think it is accessible from China :-p)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rape_of_Nanking_%28book%29#Criticism

The above will be of little interest to the fenqing who will simply dismiss it. I post it for the benefit of the more enlightened for their further education. The Japanese are accused of being insincere – coming from a bunch of racist commies who are only interested in past errors if they are committed by other people, that really does take the biscuit. If the Chinese want the Japanese to sign up to their distorted, hate filled view of history then it will be a long time coming. The Chinese need to put their own house in order first, before pointing the finger at others.

September 5, 2012 @ 12:49 pm | Comment

I see it didn’t take long for someone to reference Tojo’s dog robber, aka Ampontan.

Si, since you are obviously semi-literate, let me clarify my position. I proudly acknowledge that I am a racist, despite it being the contemporary equivalent of being branded a Kulak, but a Communist I am not. I am less interested in errors of my own commission than those committed against me. This being right and natural as opposed to the self-flagellation of racial defeatism par course in the West. To believe otherwise is cowardly and womanish. The Japanese as a whole are obsessed with empty form and ritualism, a culture of children with all of a child’s capriciousness. Though that is neither here nor there and not relevant to any present political disputes. I have no interest in changing their minds as their perceptions are irrelevant to the fundamental well being of the Chinese race. It is ultimately what the Han think that is of utmost concern to me. I agree 100% with your last point that my people must rectify certain present conditions with our state and society first before anything else can be accomplished. Though what comes afterwards will be less a pointing of fingers than a thrusting of bayonets.

September 5, 2012 @ 1:39 pm | Comment

The Chinese logic in this matter can easily be seen by the fact that they accuse the Japanese to be unfair in their school history books, and at the same time do not mention Tian’anmen massacre in their own textbooks.

Double standard, oh so common in Chinese politics.

September 5, 2012 @ 2:30 pm | Comment

Si, could you explain more clearly what those links you provide prove or disprove re: common wisdom about Japanese wartime atrocities?

September 5, 2012 @ 2:40 pm | Comment

Hi t_co

Long time no see. I hope things are going well for you – I remember you from the Peking Duck Golden Age of 2004 – 2006. The links don’t so much as prove or disprove anything, but endeavour to point out the lack of substance behind many of the accusations. The essays are lengthy and in-depth, please read them. I will not respond further to any comments if I believe the person writing them has not read them.

The first link observes that half of the comfort women were Japanese, that there is no evidence of a government policy of forced sexual slavery (that is different to the government setting up brothels, which they did as did many occupying and colonial powers throughout history), that the only evidence of such things occurring are instances of the Japanese government warning people of sex slaves and endeavouring to shut down forced sex slave houses. It also observes that the first Japanese man to write about this issue admitted to lying about it later. Whilst sex slavery is a problem, it is akin to the sex slavery you will find in London and New York and worldwide today. A crime and a tragedy, but not the responsibility of the governments.

The second link points out that rather than being brutal, Japan spent enormous sums of money developing Korea. The colonisation was not dissimilar to the European model. Regrettable certainly, but not the barbarity commonly assumed. If it was so barbaric, why do the Taiwanese not complain?

The third link points out that Chang’s book, the source of much anti-Japanese sentiment and, I believe, US Senate hand wringing, has more holes in it than the Titanic.

Basically I consider anything written by the Chinese and the Koreans on the subject of Japan to be deeply suspect and not to be trusted. Until they are willing to discuss things in a calm and dispassionate manner, I don’t see why their views and distortions should be pandered to. If someone can show me how Ampontan is wrong, I would be interested to read it.

September 5, 2012 @ 3:04 pm | Comment

Ok, so fenqings are dumb and the incessant vilification of Japan is politically-motivated. But what’s the point of getting all technical on the issue of comfort women? That the Japanese didn’t devote a ministry to “recruiting” comfort women doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a widespread, tacitly-sanctioned practice.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry seems to agree that there was at least some government/military involvement and many were indded forced into sexual slavery (http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/women/fund/state9308.html). To say that the comfort women faced similar conditions of abuse as those in NY or London is like saying pre-Civil War slaveowners are comparable to the crazy line managers today who won’t let you take weekends off.

September 5, 2012 @ 4:36 pm | Comment

I see a lot of people commenting about what they believe the average Japanese person thinks who I doubt have ever been to Japan.

September 5, 2012 @ 5:17 pm | Comment

Jing has effectively declared intellectual and moral bankruptcy.

September 5, 2012 @ 5:28 pm | Comment

I have often thought about the number of apologies historically as well, and I have looked over that Wikipedia page several times after discussions in which Chinese friends told me that Japan had never apologized or that Japan’s apologies had never been sincere. Perhaps I should just print out that list and keep the paper in my wallet so that the next time I am told about the lack of Japanese apologies I can just cite some specific facts.

It can be hard to confront history, though, especially when the school system encourages the victim narrative so much. Do you think that in another 50 years, when no one is left alive from the pre-1949 era, that the Chinese people (generalization, of course) will still have such a demonic view of Japan?

September 5, 2012 @ 5:59 pm | Comment

xsc

I see nothing in the Kono statement that contradicts what I wrote. Regarding “getting technical” I feel that it is not technical to state that contrary to the Chinese/Korean line that 100,000s of women were abducted at gunpoint to be sex slaves, the truth is that the authorities were attempting to set up brothels at which prostitutes worked. If some of those prostitutes ended up as sex slaves due to lies told to them by those that procured their services (these were usually Chinese and Korean men, a detail China and Korea likes to forget about), the government of Japan is not liable, in much the same way the UK government is not liable if a Chinese woman is illegally brought into the UK on promises of work, only to find herself forced to work in a dodgy massage parlour. My reading of the Kono statement is that it is saying Japan was morally wrong to recruit prostitutes and did not enforce the law as well as they might have.

Many atrocities have been committed by many countries over the centuries. It is not acceptable to smear people and then try to gloss over these smears by claiming their objections are a “technicality”, regardless of what other crimes they may have committed.

September 5, 2012 @ 6:15 pm | Comment

Anyone who feels good with this kind of propaganda or with repeating its slogans should be free to indulge – they just shouldn’t expect me to trust their judgment.

September 5, 2012 @ 6:46 pm | Comment

“I am less interested in errors of my own commission than those committed against me.”
—LOL. That just about sums up Jing’s capacity for introspection and reflection. ‘I might do onto others, but others damn well can’t do onto me’. Great stuff. Hopefully, he can get his rocks off on Halo or Assassins Creed or something of that ilk, and spare people in real life the sight of him going postal at some point.

++++++++

I agree with Joe Olsson. Revision of history is certainly not restricted to any one country or regime. But that sort of thing should be condemned wherever it occurs, and not just selectively as the FQ are prone to do.

September 6, 2012 @ 1:13 am | Comment

Do you think that in another 50 years, when no one is left alive from the pre-1949 era, that the Chinese people (generalization, of course) will still have such a demonic view of Japan?
——-

Probably. My wife is from an area untouched by the Japanese (and the civil war and cultural revolution killed all her grandparents) and one of her best friends in the US is Japanese but she still flies off the handle about all the same stupid shit that she has no real stake in as every other Chinese person. If education and entertainment don’t change then I don’t see why attitudes would, as they already have zero basis in personal experience in many cases.

September 6, 2012 @ 2:13 am | Comment

I get that the Chinese are upset about the Japanese atrocities in WW2.

However, what I would like to see is a sincere thank you from China to the USA for defeating Japan in WW2 and ending the Japanese occupation of China.

As I like to say to my Chinese friends.. if it wasn’t for us you would all be speaking Japanese.

September 6, 2012 @ 4:30 am | Comment

@Tanner – Because the US beat the Japanese all by themselves, no help from the British, the Russians, the Australians, and (yes) the Chinese at all . . .

September 6, 2012 @ 6:23 am | Comment

@Gil
And don’t forget, we’d all be speaking German…. ;-)

September 6, 2012 @ 7:31 am | Comment

Thank god you guys are now speaking American.

September 6, 2012 @ 8:24 am | Comment

Permanently harping on “hurt feelings” is domestically useful (at least in the short run), and internationally harmful. There seem to be politicians and press people both in Japan and in China who have managed to trivialize the atrocities – by using them as tools to justify their rule on China’s side, and by using them as tools to rule on the Japanese side. I don’t think that people who are abusing history this way are able to respect others – and I guess they can’t even respect themselves.

I think peoples’ respect for others and for themselves will define how Chinese – and Japanese – people will look at each other fifty years from here. It’s a matter of personal attitude – I expect little from collective attitudes.

September 6, 2012 @ 9:32 am | Comment

When I went to the Chinese Military History Museum in Beijing in 2005 (haven’t been back since, so things may have changed), the history of the War of Japanese Aggression did not mention the American or Soviet role in defeating Japan, let alone British, Australian, etc. They even omitted the American use of atomic weapons against Japan.

September 6, 2012 @ 3:00 pm | Comment

@ Other Richard

2005, at the anniversary of the end of the war, students regulary, and proudly, told me “China won!”. Confused smiles when I answered “Everybody won”.

About the same time, the Shenzhen Daily had a front page photo of a Chinese veteran of the period. I wish I’d kept it, as it credited him with participating in a huge number of battles against the Japanese: I calculated at the time that, over the whole War of Japanese Imperialist Aggression, he must have been in 8-10 battles a day.

There’s nothing like a good battle before breakfast to get the heart started.

September 6, 2012 @ 6:16 pm | Comment

I’m not getting into the pissing contest. But as the son of parents who grew up in wartime China under Japanese occupation, I fully understand the fury of most Chinese when this issue comes up. Yes, the Japanese leaders have issued multiple “apologies” about the war, but repeated statements after these “apologies” reflect the continual denial of Japanese actions in China and their efforts to gloss over or trivialize their actions. The only analogy I can think of that Americans can understand is that of a modern Germany that is run by Holocaust Deniers. The Japanese have trivialized the Rape of Naking, with many statements denying it ever happened. They have not admitted their activities with Unit 631 and the biological experiments performed on POWs and civilians. I recent read an English language book on the Sino-Japanese War, with a section written by Japanese historians using first person accounts of Japanese soldiers stationed in China. They used live Chinese POWs for bayonet practice as a matter of routine in order to ‘toughen up’ their soldiers for the type of treatment they were expected to mete out to the Chinese under occupation. The list goes on. Is China exploiting this fury? Yes, of course the CCP is doing it when it suits them. But they risk the situation getting out of hand, and they too underestimate the true feelings of the people. I have no hate for the Japanese. What happened happened a long time ago, and it’s time we put it behind us. But the denials and historical revisions do upset me. The Japanese should be honest with themselves and not put out the garbage that they were the victims in WWII.

September 6, 2012 @ 9:29 pm | Comment

@Gil — Big thanks for the Russians (really?), Australians and British for helping to defeat the Japanese.

Also big thanks to the Polish, Serbs and the Dutch for helping to defeat Germany.

September 6, 2012 @ 11:50 pm | Comment

‘the impending sword of justice’

Chinese vitriol towards Japan and, at times, the West, is a fact. What’s worrying is if China does grow to be more dominant politically and militarily on the world stage some Chinese people might call for a bit of ‘pay back’.

Take this recent comment from Hidden Harmonies:

‘I have my own theory that the reason why the anglocentric west is so fearful over China’s ascencion is more because of guilt over the crimes their nation committed from the opium wars/colonial eras, and are fearful for the impending sword of justice that could swing their way should the Chinese ever become motivated enough.

At the moment, most of the Chinese zeitgeist tends to be focused on Japanese unrepentant behaviour such as downplaying japanese atrocities during the war, but should that change, the West, specifically half of europe and even the US knows there’s going to be hell to pay.’

September 7, 2012 @ 2:03 am | Comment

@Tanner – And thanks to our cousins across the Atlantic, whose help cannot be said to have suffered from being overly early.

The Russians, of course, being the only Allied combatant country that declared war on Japan rather than have war effectively be declared on it, and who destroyed a Japanese army more than a million strong at the end of the war. Their conquest of Manchuria almost certainly hastened the end of the war.

@David – They did the same during the war to British and Americans, Malaysians and Indonesians, Vietnamese and Australians, Filipinos and Burmese. Only China and (to a lesser extent despite being occupied much longer) Korea continue to have major diplomatic spats with Japan though.

Personally, after living in Japan, I am tired of equivocation about the second world war, but you should understand that the people who hold those equivocating views are not, at least as far as I know, in the majority. It would be wrong to castigate the Japanese nation for something that is not really within the remit of Japanese government policy, such as opinions held by significant minorities in the Japanese population.

September 7, 2012 @ 2:44 am | Comment

@Gil,

The reactions in China and Korea are different because of the extended period of Japanese brutality and the very much different nature of it experience by those people. Nobody else experienced the Japanese killing of civilians that the Chinese did. Witness the Rape of Nanking, the bombing of Chunking and Shanghai, the “Burn All, Loot All, Kill All” campaign waged by the Japanese against Nationalist and Communist resistance and the civilian population. What the SE Asians, Europeans, and the Filipinos saw was a picnic compared to what the Chinese went through.

September 7, 2012 @ 4:48 am | Comment

What the SE Asians, Europeans, and the Filipinos saw was a picnic compared to what the Chinese went through

I think that’s a gross understatement of the misery caused by the Japanese. There was a lot of hostility towards Japan in the UK during and after the war – despite the fact that we had been allies for many years. The difference is that we didn’t raise our children on stories of Japanese brutality or say that Japan wasn’t sorry for the war. Eventually people moved on.

After all, it is not like anything like a majority of Chinese or South Koreans (let’s ignore the North for obvious reasons) were alive during the war. They’ve been taught about it, which is fine – but how you teach it is important. And I’m not sure that China or South Korea are ready to forgive Japan yet, given how they teach the period. For example, I haven’t met a Chinese person that understood how Japan got into the situation it did. They don’t really know about how the military effectively seized control of the country or the lack of freedoms Japanese people had. On the other hand, when I was at school the focus was on the NAZIS. You’d get marked down for simplifying and saying GERMANS were to blame. Whereas, as far as I understand it, in China and South Korea it’s all about JAPAN and the JAPANESE.

September 7, 2012 @ 5:41 am | Comment

To Xilin,
I wouldn’t worry too much about “theories” that come out of people on HH. It’s merely a manifestation of their prepubescent fascination with swordplay.

September 7, 2012 @ 10:41 am | Comment

” Nobody else experienced the Japanese killing of civilians that the Chinese did.”

@David – The Japanese carried out some pretty infamous massacres in South East Asia which you appear not to have heard of. At least 5% of the population of the Philippines were killed by the Japanese (a similar proportion to China for a shorter occupation) including a brutal massacre of the population of Manila during the battle for that city. The Sook Ching massacre in Singapore killed somewhere between 5-10% of the Singaporean population.

September 7, 2012 @ 1:31 pm | Comment

S.K.Cheung, granted, Hidden Harmonies is not representative of the Chinese people, but I know lots of people from mainland China who hate the Japanese. One can be critical of this and say that it’s misguided or encouraged by the government, but it doesn’t change the fact that that hatred towards the Japanese is there.

So, if China does grow to be more dominant politically and militarily on the world stage some Chinese people might call for a bit of ‘pay back’.

September 7, 2012 @ 3:38 pm | Comment

The Asian people will never forget what Japan did for their country.

September 7, 2012 @ 8:35 pm | Comment

To xilin,
there are undoubtedly some Chinese people who espouse some misguided hatred of Japanese today for what some Japanese did 70 years ago. And these misguided folks can easily be riled up into a lather, as demonstrated by the recent spate of torchings of Japanese cars by a bunch of retards.

I guess it depends on what “pay back” means. Will they engage in some punitive economic policies out of spite? Perhaps. But a military response a la “swords of justice”? That would make them a new rendition of 1930s Japan, and we all know how that turned out for those guys. Some Chinese people are undoubtedly a little crazy. But I don’t think too many of them are extraordinarily stupid.

September 8, 2012 @ 12:14 am | Comment

The Asian people will never forget what Japan did for their country.

“For”, or “to”? It’s true that Japan did good and atrocious things during the past century.

September 8, 2012 @ 4:42 am | Comment

“The Sook Ching massacre in Singapore killed somewhere between 5-10% of the Singaporean population.”

I think there is difference between killed by massacre and killed during a battle. There are no Singaporean or Malaysian at that time as we are all under British. The Japanese killed obviously and mainly those that is ethnically Chinese. Malaysia government have a look east policy meant to say we preserve a pretty good relationship with Japan, our history talked more about the deed by communist and rarely talk about Japanese. However i believe most Chinese Malaysian today share a similar sentiment with China mainlanders with regarding to any topic on Japanese and WW2. Every generation remind the next generation what the Japanese did to us, sorry i don’t see any element of brainwash by government at this part of the world.

September 8, 2012 @ 11:42 am | Comment

Don’t you think that Chinese Malaysians have some other reasons to be “supportive” of Beijing ideologies, Rhan? Their Islamic-Malay compatriots, for example, who look at them like pigshit, for example?

Support by Malayan circles for islamist terrorism against Thais and Chinese Thais in places like Yala are a demonstration of their potential at home, too.

September 8, 2012 @ 3:21 pm | Comment

Like I said, Japan is handicapped by its history (and by a faltering economy and demographic profile) to never have a leading position in Asia, but when Asia does not have a clear hegemon China and Japan inevitably collide as rivals. The United States is too weak and too faraway to play this role in perpetuity. Hence unless a grand bargain can be achieved that places China in a role over ASEAN + Korea/Taiwan akin to Prussia’s role over other German states in the 19th century, then there will never be peace in East Asia.

What the US is calling for right now in its “soft pivot/ASEAN cooperation/US AirSea battle”, is for the ASEAN states to play the role of Lilliputians to the Chinese giant. This is akin to placing faith in an unstable setup. The SE Asian community is not nearly as united by common values or heritage as Western and Northern Europe were; it would be fantasy to think that they are. What’s more, such an alliance gets weaker and weaker as members get pried loose from it, and those members are more and more likely to bind with Beijing as the alliance grows weaker. What this means is that Washington is presenting Beijing with an equilibrium where instability leads to a desirable outcome and is also self-reinforcing.

Put another way, the US is cynically trying to get the SE Asian nations to sacrifice their own stability to keep Beijing from spreading its wings as a regional hegemon, by expecting SE Asian nations to not only go against the natural pull of a neighboring hegemon, but also learn to cooperate with each other where there once was no such cooperation.

Of course, the alternative method of keeping Beijing down–a massive commitment of US resources–also leads to the freeloader problem amongst East Asian countries, akin to how Israel and Saudi Arabia freeload off US security commitments in the Middle East to disrespect human rights and engage in reckless geopolitical gambles.

Neither outcome is desirable. The only logical outcome is to accept Chinese hegemony over the region. Every other outcome leads to war and suffering, and as China outstrips the US in GDP and even raw military capability close to its own shores, more and more likely.

It is for this reason why I view Romney’s Asia policy as inherently more responsible than Obama’s policy, since it draws on this point of view to bring China up the level of a global Great Power rather than a contained, angry, and destabilizing regional one. (Most of Romney’s Asia policy draws on the views of Kenneth Lieberthal, Clinton’s China Hand and an able and farsighted diplomat who was able to steer the US from condemning Beijing over 6/4 to lobbying on China’s behalf for a WTO entrance.)

September 8, 2012 @ 5:38 pm | Comment

t_co, this is how I see your pattern of argument – correct me if you think I’m getting you wrong:

You equate Liu Xiaobo and Jing, and when challenged about that by other commenters, you drop the issue, and come back to a previous favorite topic – Japan. But while you never take a break from emphasizing ill feelings towards Japan in the region, you seem to think of ill feelings towards China as illegitimate. No, China hasn’t invaded much of Asia and committed atrocities there. But that doesn’t mean that smaller nations have no right to choose between hegemons. No, America shouldn’t put up with a freeloading mentality in the region – in fact, it would be unable to sustain that kind of hegemony. And no, a cynical try to get the SE Asian nations to sacrifice their own stability to keep Beijing from spreading its wings as a regional hegemon wouldn’t be a desirable outcome either.

But while neither of those outcomes would be desirable, you seem to miss a third one: that nations (smaller ones, too) act in their own interest. That countries like South Korea or the Philippines, if faced with a choice between a real alliance that includes America, or accepting Chinese hegemony, would still make choices in their own national interest.

If you are optimistic enough to hope that America would “understand” that “China must play its rightful role as a regional hegemon” (that’s how I understand your position, t_co), you could just as well believe in an American capability to face its – potential – allies with a choice between either an alliance or seeing America give way to just that Chinese hegemony, right?

To me, one of your remarks about press relations with the Chinese government, seems to give me a clue of what’s wrong with your pattern of argument – your comment about every official above premier rank having at least two or three journalists on call, sort of like Bob Woodward’s relationship with the Bush administration.

That’s a strange comparison for several reasons. For one, Woodward spent a lot of time with an actual decisionmaker – the president himself. For another, Woodward initially believed in the Bush administration’s WMD claim. To be a believer is a good precondition to get access to the powerful, but it’s not that much of a good prerequisite to getting accurate information. Bob Woodward remains a great journalist despite his errors at the time, not because of them. The difference between Woodward / the Bush admin and a journalist’s relationship with the Beijing’s top cadres is this: Woodward certainly did believe in the existence of WMD, and even if he had opposed this pivotal item in the “with-us-or-against-us” agenda, he might still have ended up interviewing Bush for hours. Not so in Beijing.

Of course, when it comes to the decision of closing down a chemical plant that caused local stirs, a vice premier in China can be a source. But the real decisonmakers aren’t in government – they are in the politbureau.

More than that, in the comment I linked to three paras further up, you showed a very understanding attitude for reporters who were angry at the one who wrote about Xi Jinping’s or Xi’s family’s alleged assets. Heck, if such topics must not be covered, and if that is reason for Beijing’s bureaucracy to shut the doors to foreign journalists, stop relying on cooperating with Chinese vice-premiers! Don’t believe them anything that you can’t check yourself!

The main problem of many people who – correctly – follow Chinese rules when it comes to their investment in China seems to be that over time, they get used to respect (not necessarily follow, but respect) all CCP rules, whatever they may be, written or unwritten, constitutional or not. I’m very grateful that this hasn’t yet become a standard for the papers I’m reading, and I hope it never will. I rather prefer less information from Beijing, than to rely on information that first needs to be cleared by Beijing.

Your comments – as far as I can see – bear testimony to what happens when people are getting too used to the rules of a dictatorship.

September 8, 2012 @ 7:21 pm | Comment

Romney has an Asia policy?

September 8, 2012 @ 8:30 pm | Comment

Romney has an Asia policy?

Given how much he has invested there, the policy should be pretty clear, even if not explicitly stated.

September 8, 2012 @ 9:16 pm | Comment

T_co

‘Hence unless a grand bargain can be achieved that places China in a role over ASEAN + Korea/Taiwan akin to Prussia’s role over other German states in the 19th century, then there will never be peace in East Asia.’

Do you not see the irony in making this comparison? Do you think Germany history is a good example of how to achieve regional peace?

September 8, 2012 @ 9:37 pm | Comment

T_co

You’re basically saying that if China is an undisputed regional hegemon there will be peace.

Let’s just pretend for the moment that other nations in Asia would be content living in this new sphere of co-prosperity.

Will China be content with just being a regional hegemon?

Does anyone know of an example where a nation has grown to the power of regional hegemon, had the resources, power, and opportunity to grow further, but just stop?

Russia. Japan. America. Britain. Spain. Rome. Greece.

Expansionism. Are the wars and conflicts of the modern age so different from those a hundred or a thousand years ago? How did the nations noted above justify expansionism? Like Solomon said, ‘There is nothing new under the sun’.

September 8, 2012 @ 10:03 pm | Comment

And if you think I’m way off the mark with the Japan comparison, the Asia sphere of co-prosperity:

‘represented the desire to create a self-sufficient “bloc of Asian nations led by the Japanese and free of Western powers”‘ (wiki)

Replace Japanese with Chinese.

I’m not saying this is what you want, or what anybody in China might want. But this is what you sound like.

September 8, 2012 @ 10:10 pm | Comment

@JR, thanks for trying to clarify my arguments.

I equate LXB and Jing because they are both trying to change China’s government, China’s political source code. I don’t care about how different their intended methods of change are, or what different ends towards which they want China’s government act. All my argument revolves around is that they both want a revolution.

And to expound on that point a little, since people above are curious about it, I consider the both of the systems that they propose unsuitable replacements for China’s current system of government at this current time. Jing’s Chinese neo-fascism–I hope that never happens as it would mean a China that can never “punch above its weight” on the world stage; LXB’s liberalism would fold to the financial, foreign policy, ethnic, and military challenges China will face over the next two decades as disastrously as Yeltsin’s Russia.

This is not to say that the CCP is the only system that China could use. The CCP is corrupt; hidebound; often timid where it should be bold and often bold where it should act with finesse. But, make no mistake, they are the best choice right now. There are alternatives, but they are, for the most part, unready–in no small part, I agree, to the CCP’s paranoia at giving alternate groups any practice at governing. But the CCP’s paranoia will not make me view these groups with any sort of sentiment beyond the cold calculus of whether they can help China reach its true, unfettered potential in all arenas–military, economic, diplomatic, scientific, for in the end, that is the only criterion that matters to me as a measure of whether a particular group should be governing a country.

From this perspective, Japan isn’t a favorite topic of mine–I focus on it because it is the single greatest test of Chinese foreign policy over the next two decades: how to incorporate East Asia and SE Asia, including Japan, into a permanent Chinese zone of influence.

Through this lens, I don’t view those ill feelings towards China as illegitimate; I do not concern myself with that question of whether they right or wrong to have, but with the question of how best to eliminate or neutralize the ill feelings.

It is not important whether smaller nations have a right to choose between hegemons–it is a question of whether they are able to. Man is endowed with rights; nations must fight for them. The international arena is an anarchy. Yes, of course Asia littoral can choose between hegemons. But Asia littoral must understand that one hegemonic choice leads to a stable, self-reinforcing peace, while another hegemonic choice leads to an unstable, self-destructing military competition. I am not pointing out that one choice is morally correct or not–I am pointing out that one choice will increase the chances their citizens are safe and alive, and the other choice decreases it.

And what goes for Asia littoral also applies to America. America can do as she pleases with regards to Asia, there is no right or wrong course of action, insofar as morals are concerned, just as it was not right or wrong for America to invade Iraq or ignore Rwanda. But what America should do is fully understand the consequences of her choices. Right now America seems to believe that it can have its cake and eat it too: it can have its balancing alliance AND reduce the chances of war in the Pacific. Judging by the pronouncements from Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon, the US certainly seems to sincerely believe that. But America can’t; the creation of this alliance will increase the risk of war in Asia. So America, too, has come to a time for choosing. Does it believe that Chinese regional hegemony will prove so offensive to US core interests that peace can be sacrificed? If not, then US actions are irresponsible and should cease, because they do not get the US what it truly wants.

As for your next point, one quibble: if an official is above Premier rank, chances are they are already in the Politburo.

That aside, I think the main point you have–and please correct me if I am wrong–is that because I have been esconced in a position which deals with the Chinese bureaucracy intimately, then that taints my logic with regards to the world. Essentially, an ad hominem.

I think you’re reading my PoV backwards here. I do not subscribe to the rules of the Chinese bureaucracy or always analyze things from their point of view. If there is one crime I am guilty of, it is of thinking always from the point of view of China’s interests, and analyzing every issue through a technocratic, rather than moral, lens; of asking “how do we?” rather than “should we?” Since that is often how the Chinese bureaucracy and Party think, then often our biases will coincide; yet, as you may see from how I view which system of government China should use, they often do not.

September 8, 2012 @ 10:17 pm | Comment

T_co,

‘how to incorporate East Asia and SE Asia, including Japan, into a permanent Chinese zone of influence’ (read: East Asian sphere of co-prosperity)

September 8, 2012 @ 10:55 pm | Comment

That aside, I think the main point you have–and please correct me if I am wrong–is that because I have been esconced in a position which deals with the Chinese bureaucracy intimately, then that taints my logic with regards to the world. Essentially, an ad hominem.

I do believe that your logic is tainted by giving Beijing’s concerns priority over those of other governments. You suggest that you analyze issues through a technocratic lense rather than a moral one, when it comes to Beijing. That would be fine, but not if you accuse Washington of cynicism, of a desire to make the smaller countries in the region to sacrifice their own stability – as if those governments were in no position to move closer to China if they wanted to.
That’s where “moral” – or what you seem to see as moral – categories, come into play, and there, rather suddenly, there seems to be no room for a merely technocratic perspective anymore.
I might agree that I’m throwing ad hominems at you if I said that you were a CCP apologist, for example. Not doing things like these is basically a matter of politeness, and that’s why I previously disagreed with Wongsuwat or Sangay. I’m rather trying to clarify your arguments – as you said yourself. I am blunt though. I’m analyzing what you write, and I’m stating what my impression is. I think you should be able to bear that – after all, we are discussing pretty big issues, that affect a lot of people, their concepts of honor, and their feelings. For what it’s worth, what you said about Liu Xiaobo is, in my view, an ad hominem indeed. His stated goal is a constitutional state, not a revolution. And for obvious reasons, he isn’t even in a position to react to allegations like yours.

The international arena may be an anarchy, but their are norms, and there are concepts of sovereignty – concepts that should be taken seriously. “An anarchy”, in that context, is no factual finding, but an excuse for playing down these concepts.

September 8, 2012 @ 11:05 pm | Comment

T_co

‘Hence unless a grand bargain can be achieved that places China in a role over ASEAN + Korea/Taiwan akin to Prussia’s role over other German states in the 19th century, then there will never be peace in East Asia.’

Do you not see the irony in making this comparison? Do you think Germany history is a good example of how to achieve regional peace?

You’re basically saying that if China is an undisputed regional hegemon there will be peace.

Let’s just pretend for the moment that other nations in Asia would be content living in this new sphere of co-prosperity.

Will China be content with just being a regional hegemon?

Does anyone know of an example where a nation has grown to the power of regional hegemon, had the resources, power, and opportunity to grow further, but just stop?

Russia. Japan. America. Britain. Spain. Rome. Greece.

Expansionism. Are the wars and conflicts of the modern age so different from those a hundred or a thousand years ago? How did the nations noted above justify expansionism? Like Solomon said, ‘There is nothing new under the sun’.

And if you think I’m way off the mark with the Japan comparison, the Asia sphere of co-prosperity:

‘represented the desire to create a self-sufficient “bloc of Asian nations led by the Japanese and free of Western powers”‘ (wiki)

Replace Japanese with Chinese.

I’m not saying this is what you want, or what anybody in China might want. But this is what you sound like.

You said:
‘how to incorporate East Asia and SE Asia, including Japan, into a permanent Chinese zone of influence’ (read: East Asian sphere of co-prosperity)

September 8, 2012 @ 11:17 pm | Comment

Tai De, you have a point, however in the case of Japan (not Xinjiang and Islamist), i am not that sure if Beijing ideology and policy is in line with the will of people. I think CCP were timid and soft when facing Japan (or US?), moreover the sentiment i talked about is among the common people.

September 9, 2012 @ 12:09 am | Comment

t_co

If I might ask in a very direct way: Why do you want China to punch above its weight?

September 9, 2012 @ 12:44 am | Comment

Boy, this has turned into quite the debate. Thanks for keeping it civil (really). T_co, I don’t see the ad hominem, and I think you know your PoV is going to ignite a lot of disagreement. So far it’s been pretty polite.

Some of Xilin’s and Rhan’s comments got stuck in my spam filter, I’m not sure why. Trying to correct it.

September 9, 2012 @ 1:11 am | Comment

I do believe that your logic is tainted by giving Beijing’s concerns priority over those of other governments. You suggest that you analyze issues through a technocratic lense rather than a moral one, when it comes to Beijing. That would be fine, but not if you accuse Washington of cynicism, of a desire to make the smaller countries in the region to sacrifice their own stability – as if those governments were in no position to move closer to China if they wanted to.
That’s where “moral” – or what you seem to see as moral – categories, come into play, and there, rather suddenly, there seems to be no room for a merely technocratic perspective anymore.

Nope. My point was that SE Asian countries were being told by Washington such an arrangement was in their best interests, when it wasn’t. I was arguing not out of any moral sense, but rather on the level of what would most benefit those countries from a security/welfare perspective. In that regard, maybe a better word would have been ‘hypocrtically’ instead of ‘cynically’.

September 9, 2012 @ 1:12 am | Comment

Richard, my comments got stuck in the filter because I logged in on another computer and mis-typed my email.

September 9, 2012 @ 1:15 am | Comment

Does anyone know of an example where a nation has grown to the power of regional hegemon, had the resources, power, and opportunity to grow further, but just stop?
Russia. Japan. America. Britain. Spain. Rome. Greece.
Expansionism. Are the wars and conflicts of the modern age so different from those a hundred or a thousand years ago? How did the nations noted above justify expansionism? Like Solomon said, ‘There is nothing new under the sun’.

Is it our moral imperative to stop Chinese expansionism? And moreover, we are speaking of peace within the region here; once China establishes itself as Asia-Pac hegemon, the chance for a war between states in the Asia-Pac region will drop, especially if China is smart and gains hegemony by integrating all regional militaries into a common defense structure (as the PLA General Staff Department is currently considering.)

Finally, Japan’s Greater East-Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere buttresses this argument: Japan was not strong enough to fully dominate the region, and hence caused instability. Japan was not strong enough because she didn’t have the resources nor the population to do it. China does. Only China can be the hegemon; and China is threatened by any other state which desires hegemony; and China also can deadlock any other attempt at hegemony. Basically, if we want peace in East Asia, either we beat China into the ground so hard it can never get up again, or we accept its hegemony over the region. Any other alternative inevitably causes frictions and an arms race. The only question is: does the US want to beat China down hard? Can it? Will it?

September 9, 2012 @ 1:22 am | Comment

I might agree that I’m throwing ad hominems at you if I said that you were a CCP apologist, for example. Not doing things like these is basically a matter of politeness, and that’s why I previously disagreed with Wongsuwat or Sangay. I’m rather trying to clarify your arguments – as you said yourself. I am blunt though. I’m analyzing what you write, and I’m stating what my impression is. I think you should be able to bear that – after all, we are discussing pretty big issues, that affect a lot of people, their concepts of honor, and their feelings. For what it’s worth, what you said about Liu Xiaobo is, in my view, an ad hominem indeed. His stated goal is a constitutional state, not a revolution. And for obvious reasons, he isn’t even in a position to react to allegations like yours.

Got it. Yeah, on a second look it doesn’t seem like an ad hominem. That being said though, I firmly disagree with your logic on why my views coincide with Beijing’s–all I am thinking about is what moves benefit the people of China. Just as Reagan would not apologize for America; I will not apologize for China.

September 9, 2012 @ 1:26 am | Comment

So you think Japan were on to something with their Co-prosperity Sphere?

T_co: ‘Is it our moral imperative to stop Chinese expansionism?’

Is it our moral imperative to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past? What do you think?

With China’s experience of foreign imperialist powers I find it incredible that you would suggest that China should have what sound to me like imperialist ambitions.

September 9, 2012 @ 1:38 am | Comment

T_co:

‘especially if China is smart and gains hegemony by integrating all regional militaries into a common defense structure (as the PLA General Staff Department is currently considering’

This is what empires do. This is what the British did, it’s what the Japanese did, the Romans, etc.

September 9, 2012 @ 1:40 am | Comment

Do you really see a future where the militaries of the region can be integrated into one big happy armed family? Try combining even just these few: PRC, ROC, Japan, Korea (both of them).

September 9, 2012 @ 1:48 am | Comment

Do you really see a future where the militaries of the region can be integrated into one big happy armed family? Try combining even just these few: PRC, ROC, Japan, Korea (both of them).

Japan will be the last one to join; and even then they will join reluctantly. The Koreas will have to be integrated in one lump sum; China should make such an integration a precondition of letting North Korea be peacefully absorbed by South Korea (since China can forever deny South Korea that prize if it so chooses to do so, it makes sense to trade that for something valuable.)

The ROC will be the easiest, as simply abandoning the claim on the island and refocusing on the Senkakus should give a good enough proximate cause, and WantWant Group’s acquisition of the majority of Taiwan’s media assets can persuade the island’s people to becoming a long-term force for integration (and if that persuasion fails, there’s always the option of simply using the Taiwanese investments on the mainland and NTD/RMB currency swaps as economic leverage to cause a mil-mil integration.)

The goal is to first, isolate Japan from every single other Asian neighbor; then push for a common EEZ for everyone’s coastal waters (to deny any outside power the use of “preserving open sea lanes” as an excuse to intrude); then threaten an economic crisis in Japan (say force a massive spike in Japanese interest rates, which in a nation with 190% debt/GDP and an aging population will be fatal) while interfering with Japanese energy and raw materials imports at the same time to finally force Japan to accede as a junior partner.

September 9, 2012 @ 2:20 am | Comment

Overall, the consensus within the CCP is shifting from being boorish or militaristic, to pursuing a gentle but firm long-term policy of rewarding integrationist moves while severely punishing any moves to bring outside powers into the region. Instead of punishing or rewarding countries though, the Party is approaching things from an institutional perspective–rewarding and strengthening pro-China Asian institutions while nullifying, fragmenting, and bankrupting anti-China ones. It’s a smart play and one I would pursue myself if I was playing this game. The CCP intends to play this game out over decades, and I don’t see any Asian country able to withstand this sort of constant pressure over a period of 20-30 years.

September 9, 2012 @ 2:23 am | Comment

If I might ask in a very direct way: Why do you want China to punch above its weight?

Because I want a better life for the Chinese people. To project power requires sacrificing a country’s blood and treasure. When a country can’t punch above its weight, it uses those resources inefficiently. When it can, it gains extra efficiency out of them. In the end, China will need to project power in order to preserve her overseas interests. By doing that with extra efficiency, China need not sacrifice as much blood or treasure, ensuring more is available to make the Chinese people live more comfortably AND at the same time have additional access to overseas resources.

September 9, 2012 @ 2:26 am | Comment

FYI, the reason I think the institutional approach is the right approach is because citizens will get riled up when their nations are punished by China, but I have yet to meet an average citizen of any SE nation who is angry if ASEAN falls apart or if one Taiwanese newspaper gains market share at the expense of another.

September 9, 2012 @ 2:29 am | Comment

Does Asia need a regional boss/bully/benefactor/henchman? The discussion seems to be predicated on such a need, then move to whether China is appropriate for such a task; the US is willing to commit to such a task; or Japan is even up for such a task. But is it even a required task?

China is supposed to provide stability in the region. Was there instability in the region? More to the point, was there any instability in the region that wasn’t of China’s doing? And if peace requires the entire region to submit to China, then where was peace coming from before? It seems NK is the only true nut-case in the region, and decades of them being a client state to China hasn’t improved things. I don’t see how further deferral to China changes that. In fact, I see this “stability” business as merely an extension of what the CCP tries to sell within CHina.

There is no moral imperative to stopping Chinese expansionism. But there is also no moral, legal, or logical imperative for other Asian states to accept it either. The irony is that it is precisely this expansionism that drives those states towards the US. It is a bit of a catch-22 for China: for her to be accepted as the boss in the region, she has to act less like the bully.

September 9, 2012 @ 2:35 am | Comment

T_co, when you say what you would like to happen, fair enough. But, when you say what ‘will’ happen (you state that China will integrate all militaries in the region) I think…..

….I should remind you that the Chinese government can’t even get a new curriculum made compulsory in Hong Kong.

September 9, 2012 @ 3:12 am | Comment

I was arguing not out of any moral sense, but rather on the level of what would most benefit those countries from a security/welfare perspective. In that regard, maybe a better word would have been ‘hypocrtically’ instead of ‘cynically’.

An allegation of hypocrisy spells moral judgment, too, t_co. Especially when you also say that America can do as she pleases with regards to Asia, there is no right or wrong course of action, insofar as morals are concerned, just as it was not right or wrong for America to invade Iraq or ignore Rwanda. I think you haven’t made up your mind about if want to make a case with or without moral issues.

Japan will be the last one to join; and even then they will join reluctantly.

Japan may actually never join – and that they will never do so voluntarily seems to be a main factor which stokes your distrust of Japan. The more I read stuff like this, the more it seems to put your strong allegations against the country into perspective. If I were Japanese, I’d say that you have nothing to offer. Nothing except demands, of course.

I think your central problem is that you want two things at once. On the one hand, you want to successfully argue for China’s own sake. On the other, you want to convince everyone that the concept you suggest is the best one for everyone concerned.

To project power requires sacrificing a country’s blood and treasure, you wrote. That’s true under many circumstances, but that’s also conventional wisdom. Countries other than China know that, too – and they know that freedom, too, requires sacrifices, when another country threatens your freedom.

I’m sometimes getting the impression that Chinese people think of themselves as a nation with a particular preparedness to make sacrifices. That’s quite probably a miscalculation. The preparedness to make sacrifices depends on what’s at stake – and on how much one cherishes it.

September 9, 2012 @ 3:37 am | Comment

@justrecently,

and T_co believes a lot of this can be brought about by economic pressure and restricting the flow of resources. Sounds a bit like sanctions to me. Hasn’t somebody tried that already? I wonder how it worked out for them.

T_co also assumes that people will capitulate when faced with military firepower. History proves otherwise. Vietnam? Afghanistan?

September 9, 2012 @ 3:59 am | Comment

There’s no problem with T-Co arguing what is the best arrangement from CHina’s perspective. The disconnect occurs when that arrangement is also being sold as what is best from the perspective of all the other stakeholders. Ultimately, what’s best for China will not be what is best for everybody else. So it comes down to how aggressively China will pursue the absolute best for her, as opposed to any willingness to compromise (which, by definition, means China giving up something too). Of course, China is physically in a position to bite off every single last bit of everything she wants…but that would also expose the facade of this ‘China will provide security/stability in the region’ business.

September 9, 2012 @ 6:00 am | Comment

t_co

“Because I want a better life for the Chinese people.”

The same way you want a better life for the Japanese people, or is this something rather different? I’m not being snarky here.

“By doing that with extra efficiency, China need not sacrifice as much blood or treasure, ensuring more is available to make the Chinese people live more comfortably AND at the same time have additional access to overseas resources.”

It seems to me establishing hegemony over East and Southeast Asia will require massive spending of blood and treasure, while its maintenance will be even more demanding. Up to now China has been a free-rider on the US, just as you say Israel and Saudi Arabia are, and while this situation certainly needs to change, a wholesale replacement of presence is entirely unlikely. In fact, attempting to bring it about would certainly be a poorly efficient enterprise, as Yuan diplomacy has been to date. In light of PRC citizens stinging over the amount of China’s wealth spent pursuing overseas aims, I think that’s a tough case to make.

“The Koreas will have to be integrated in one lump sum; China should make such an integration a precondition of letting North Korea be peacefully absorbed by South Korea (since China can forever deny South Korea that prize if it so chooses to do so, it makes sense to trade that for something valuable.)”

Again, your knowledge of Korea appears deeply suspect, its assumptions distinctively those of overseas Chinese. China does not have the capacity to force North Korea (a nuclear power, thanks to the PLA) to be “peacefully absorbed” by the South, and you err if you believe the South Koreans have made this a political priority (open discussion of the costs involved and the likelihood it would undermine South Korea’s economy have made South Koreans cautious). You also fail to take into account the fact that the percentage of people who view China unfavorably in South Korea has risen to near-Japanese levels. The South Koreans are, shall we say, quite zealous about democracy, and China is viewed a deleterious influence on all that they have achieved.

“Put another way, the US is cynically trying to get the SE Asian nations to sacrifice their own stability to keep Beijing from spreading its wings as a regional hegemon, by expecting SE Asian nations to not only go against the natural pull of a neighboring hegemon, but also learn to cooperate with each other where there once was no such cooperation.”

Since JR has already commented upon your loaded terminology, I’ll limit my comments to asking what is cynical or hypocritical about the US’s position. Are you suggesting the *expectations* you note are cynical or hypocritical? Because that view would be telling.

“The SE Asian community is not nearly as united by common values or heritage as Western and Northern Europe were; it would be fantasy to think that they are. ”

This is pretty much a meaningless argument. The SEA community doesn’t have to be entirely united (though should “heritage” play a critical role, it would only work against China); only certain lynchpins are needed to form a strong alliance. Fortunately for the US, the nations which would be required are precisely the ones with the largest armies, where unfavorable views of China are strongest, and where stability is greatest: Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. The US doesn’t need all of the SE Asian community to commit equally. Myanmar will realign itself with India, the Philippines has resigned itself to play the role of Poland, and while polls suggest Chinese relations with Indonesia are quite good, history should serve as a reminder to overseas Chinese in Indonesia who attempt to form a strong relationship with the PRC. There’s nothing really for the PRC to pry away, unless you think it’s Thailand. Provided the lynchpins remain, China will not be able to achieve hegemony.

“Overall, the consensus within the CCP is shifting from being boorish or militaristic, to pursuing a gentle but firm long-term policy of rewarding integrationist moves while severely punishing any moves to bring outside powers into the region.”

Please provide evidence for this claim. If anything, the PLA has only gotten more boisterous over the past 2 years. The authors of its “strategy” have adopted eschatological views, including the idea that China must achieve primacy “or disappear”.

September 9, 2012 @ 9:53 am | Comment

An allegation of hypocrisy spells moral judgment, too, t_co. Especially when you also say that America can do as she pleases with regards to Asia, there is no right or wrong course of action, insofar as morals are concerned, just as it was not right or wrong for America to invade Iraq or ignore Rwanda. I think you haven’t made up your mind about if want to make a case with or without moral issues.

Well if that’s the not word you’re happy with, how about dishonestly then? No matter what semantic philosophy we follow here, the crux of the argument is that America is trying to persuade SEA/Japan/Korea that signing up to a counterbalancing coalition will help the security/welfare of their citizens, when in reality it is highly unlikely that China will be cowed and highly likely that China will be threatened and goaded; leading to decreased security and welfare across the entire region.

September 9, 2012 @ 11:59 am | Comment

Again, your knowledge of Korea appears deeply suspect, its assumptions distinctively those of overseas Chinese. China does not have the capacity to force North Korea (a nuclear power, thanks to the PLA) to be “peacefully absorbed” by the South, and you err if you believe the South Koreans have made this a political priority (open discussion of the costs involved and the likelihood it would undermine South Korea’s economy have made South Koreans cautious). You also fail to take into account the fact that the percentage of people who view China unfavorably in South Korea has risen to near-Japanese levels. The South Koreans are, shall we say, quite zealous about democracy, and China is viewed a deleterious influence on all that they have achieved.

China can’t prod NKorea to reunify, but it can prevent any peaceful reunification from occurring. And no matter what the costs would be to reunification, South Koreans still hold that as a sacrosanct goal; it’s written into the first clause of their constitution, for chrissakes.

September 9, 2012 @ 12:01 pm | Comment

This is pretty much a meaningless argument. The SEA community doesn’t have to be entirely united (though should “heritage” play a critical role, it would only work against China); only certain lynchpins are needed to form a strong alliance. Fortunately for the US, the nations which would be required are precisely the ones with the largest armies, where unfavorable views of China are strongest, and where stability is greatest: Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. The US doesn’t need all of the SE Asian community to commit equally. Myanmar will realign itself with India, the Philippines has resigned itself to play the role of Poland, and while polls suggest Chinese relations with Indonesia are quite good, history should serve as a reminder to overseas Chinese in Indonesia who attempt to form a strong relationship with the PRC. There’s nothing really for the PRC to pry away, unless you think it’s Thailand. Provided the lynchpins remain, China will not be able to achieve hegemony.

Your prognosis on the SEA community is pretty wishful in and of itself. Why will Myanmar realign itself with India when Chinese trade with Myanmar is 10x that of Indian trade, and road and rail links from China are already in place?

Why will Korea remain in a US-centric position?

As for Vietnam, its economic colonization by Chinese interests is already nearly complete; a significant portion of their economy depends on China to function–most critically, Vietnam’s entire property market depends on Chinese financing; China can simply cripple that and pull the plug on the legitimacy of the Vietnamese Communist Party.

And even if those nations have negative views; interests trump emotions, because interests can be traded to acquire the media organs which control emotions. China is already moving to acquire Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese media assets; you can’t use emotions to acquire interests, however.

September 9, 2012 @ 12:10 pm | Comment

@ t-co. Nothing like a rush of blood to the head combined with a dose of triumphalism.

If you bother checking in on Vietnamese media occasionally, which I do, you will notice that Govt is having a hard time reigning in anti-Chinese sentiment expressed by younger Vietnamese folk.

Lei Feng might be a big 50 year banana in ChiCom mythology, but the Trung sisters have been around for 1000 years.

Fact of the matter: most Vietnamese hate the guts of their northern neighbors.

Interests do not trump emotions in the long run.

Even the hard core military interests in Myanmar now view the long standing PRC relationship as something akin to herpes. Best to be avoided.

I am keen to know the sources you are reading for such views as above.

FQ Space Cadet and I’m feeling charitable today.

September 9, 2012 @ 1:46 pm | Comment

Well if that’s the not word you’re happy with, how about dishonestly then?

Still a moral judgment, t_co. And that’s not semantics. If you were analyzing every issue through a technocratic, rather than moral, lens, you wouldn’t use either of the three words you’ve suggested about America so far. Your description of America and the east and south-east Asian states boils down to a picture of an evil old man (America) who’s trying to lure innocent children (China’s neighbors) away from mommy (China) to do unspeakable things to them.

September 9, 2012 @ 2:36 pm | Comment

Given how much he [Romney] has invested there, the [his Asia] policy should be pretty clear, even if not explicitly stated.

As for Vietnam, its economic colonization by Chinese interests is already nearly complete

Folks, I know – a commenter thread doesn’t explain the world. But why am I beginning to feel that this thread could be a textbook case of “win-win”?

September 9, 2012 @ 3:08 pm | Comment

T_co, when you say what you would like to happen, fair enough. But, when you say what ‘will’ happen (you state that China will integrate all militaries in the region) I think…..

….I should remind you that the Chinese government can’t even get a new curriculum made compulsory in Hong Kong.

You have all these grand schemes for a Chinese regional hegemon that assume not only a degree political and diplomatic skill, but brilliance in these fields. I would like to see evidence for this, perhaps in one example of a regional programme implemented by the Chinese government which has been successful in achieving aims similar to the ones you state.

September 9, 2012 @ 3:50 pm | Comment

“China can’t prod NKorea to reunify, but it can prevent any peaceful reunification from occurring.”

As I stated before, there are 3 more countries able to prevent reunification. This hardly makes China uniquely capable. China’s willingness to publicly proclaim as much, seeing that it has done so in PLA discussions with the US military, nevertheless does make it uniquely culpable. I trust you realize this is not lost on the South Koreans or even North Koreans. No one likes to be manipulated, t_co, and the view that these are “small countries” (with large armies, you fail to note) who simply must learn to accept their fate will not go down well.

“And no matter what the costs would be to reunification, South Koreans still hold that as a sacrosanct goal; it’s written into the first clause of their constitution, for chrissakes.”

It’s no longer sacrosanct. It now regarded an ideal. And the attempt to claim as evidence for your argument a (selective) reading of the Korean constitution is nearly as misguided as a use of the 3/5th clause. You will note that the entire “mission” of reunification is predicated on democratic reform. Trading reunification for Chinese hegemony would surely problematize such reform. The fact of the matter is that democracy is now more sacrosanct in South Korea than reunification.

“Your prognosis on the SEA community is pretty wishful in and of itself. Why will Myanmar realign itself with India when Chinese trade with Myanmar is 10x that of Indian trade, and road and rail links from China are already in place?”

Where are you getting your numbers from? I have the difference at 4.5x as of 2011, and this document lists the difference as under 4x.

http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/html/113423.htm

Perhaps you are misreading the numbers for imports? Not surprisingly, the vast majority of China’s trade with Myanmar has been in the form of imports and infrastructure investment. The former are replaceable (textiles, wood), particularly in Southeast Asia; and the latter are essentially one-off investments and easily nationalized assets should China wish to get tough. I can’t foresee China getting tough with Myanmar, however, because China’s significant investment in Myanmar’s gas production could be negated. India, on the other hand, is currently the *larger* market for Myanmar’s exports, and not surprisingly, there are roads connecting India and Myanmar too.

What India doesn’t have with Myanmar, which will aid better relations, is a duplicitous history of arms supplies to Myanmar’s ethnic separatists (particularly to the UWSA) and strong support for a military government that has fallen into disfavor.

September 9, 2012 @ 4:23 pm | Comment

A few notes from my now re-united country (Germany): Unification was a stated goal in West Germany’s basic law’s preamble, and two ways to implement it were offered further down in the constitution. That doesn’t mean that it was sacrosanct. There were discussions both in East and in West Germany if unification was desirable. I had to do a homework with three classmates in school – a dialectic essay on the pros and cons of unification, with a conclusion. The four of us “agreed” that it was too early for unification, and that East Germany should first try to walk on its own feet, as a state of free people. If there were a desire for unification a number of years on, one could still give it a go.

Had we written that unification wasn’t desirable at all, we wouldn’t have been marked down, either.

One thing that drove things, besides business interests, was the fear that things in the USSR could still change again, and that the option of unification could be lost. But on the ground, “aspirations” aren’t necessarily what outsiders believe them to be.

September 9, 2012 @ 4:41 pm | Comment

“Why will Korea remain in a US-centric position?”

Well, let’s start with the most obvious reason: inertia. South Korean citizens have witnessed growth as impressive as China’s over the past half century and have successfully overcome a dictator, an autarchy, several waves of restructuring and a number of economic crises in the process. They’ve done this while observing their northern half, a victim of the influence of its neighbors, slowly strangle itself. They’ve wisely spread their investments globally and are economically untrammeled. China’s market for many of Korea’s manufacturing strengths is now saturated and its companies are facing diminishing returns across a range of industries, necessitating a shift to other markets. South Korea has the best-trained military in East Asia, is deeply trusted, and works closely with the dominant military power. The industry South Korea appears keenest to enter just happens to be one which bridges civil and military relations, and in which its current allies have the most advantageous position and are able to supply cutting edge technology: Astronautics. South Korean society is far more democratic than Japan’s, and its Chaebol, excluding Samsung, are not possessed of nearly the influence Japan’s equivalents had due to banking reforms in the mid aughts. This is where we are.

And China is going to dangle North Korea in front of South Koreans’ faces and expect them to jump?

“As for Vietnam, its economic colonization by Chinese interests is already nearly complete; a significant portion of their economy depends on China to function–most critically, Vietnam’s entire property market depends on Chinese financing; China can simply cripple that and pull the plug on the legitimacy of the Vietnamese Communist Party.”

I second Tubby in asking for some evidence for this because you sound like a cartoon character. But I would also like to add that “pull[ing] the plug on the legitimacy of the Vietnamese Communist Party” doesn’t sound like it will be very favorable to China.

“China is already moving to acquire Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese media assets; you can’t use emotions to acquire interests, however.”

You can. You simply can’t necessarily acquire interest through emotions. Nor can you necessarily acquire interests by acquiring media assets, particularly insofar as this has proven to be something China is *especially* bad at. Perhaps, ironically, because it doesn’t appear to understand emotions.

September 9, 2012 @ 5:02 pm | Comment

T_co presents his aspirations for the future of China. His aspirations are essentially nationalistic and imperialistic. I don’t, however, believe that his views are representative. I would be interested if he could provide Chinese sources for other people either proposing or supporting such aspirations. If he can, then there seems to be some point to this debate. If he can’t, then we are all basically spending out time debating one person’s world view.

T_co, by proposing some kind of Chinese imperialism for the region, displays a lack of understanding of world history and the inevitable destiny of imperial powers.

But, at the end of the day I think all this is academic because I doubt people would support the kind of plans that T_co is suggesting. I think with the emergence of a middle class, they will look out for interests closer to home. Immediate economic, social and political issues will be prioritised above territorial disputes or things like regional influence.

A recent example of this would be Hong Kong. What recieved more attention in the press, on the internet, and on the street in Hong Kong: national education or Diaoyutai?

September 9, 2012 @ 7:15 pm | Comment

Well, according to at least one report, “as of December 2008, China ranked 16 out of 84 countries and territories which supported FDIs in Vietnam.”

http://www.ide.go.jp/English/result.html?cx=017478955533769994456%3A6h5i3wdxmue&cof=FORID%3A11&q=Vietnam+China+FDI+ODA&sa=Search

I’d like to see further statistics on this matter.

September 9, 2012 @ 7:35 pm | Comment

t_co‘s view probably reflects Beijing’s view in terms of access to global resources, and no chance for any other power to cut those lifelines off. I doubt though that China’s leaders even want to “integrate” other countries’ armed forces, although I can’t tell, obviously. They won’t get up every morning and consider themselves as unattractive as they are to much of the outside world. That world may confirm some self-flattery on their part, too, especially as the outside world had been taught by legions of sinologists and, shall we say, experts, that you must never offend “China’s face”.
But they do know that not even Tibet and Hong Kong are easy to integrate. They probably view their options realistically.

I believe that the CCP only feels safe if its own narrative – about being the only thinkable legitimate rulers of China – won’t be successfully challenged from anywhere. To that end, they will apply carrots and sticks – in any foreign country, including the U.S.. It doesn’t require war to buy elites and opinions off. In that regard, t_co’s notes about Romney and Vietnam are up to something, in my view – not that they’ve been “successfully bought”, but because money can placate objections which would weigh more heavily otherwise.

Take Germany. Sinologists have always been “China-friendly”, as a rule. That seems to make them different from slavists, for example, who probably never liked Russia quite that much. But when you have Confucius Institutes on German campuses, and the offices for the protection of the constitution don’t even look at them, while I’m aware of at least one case where naturalization of a British-Italian woman was delayed for her “left leanings” (affiliation with a legal leftist party), it’s obvious that money works to quite an extent. Mind you – that’s the same regional-state office and home minister who has no objections against prospective teachers’ Chinese-language education being funded by China’s Hanban.

There’s an anti-communist obsession in Germany which would probably look pretty foreign to most European countries. Here’s a story which had been covered by a credible news service, but did not find its way into the mainstream press – a labor judge who reportedly told a Chinese claimant that if a public broadcaster suspected an employee of being a communist or a supporter of national socialism, this was a sufficient reason to terminate the employment.

It’s an obsession though which seems to go away very quickly if a solvent power arrives that be offers “win-win”. I think that’s the most successful “soft-power” strategy the CCP has been using to date.

September 9, 2012 @ 9:26 pm | Comment

Wait, isn’t this entry supposed to be about how foolishly irrational Chinese people’s anti-Japanese feelings are? How did it morph into (reading the comments toward the bottom) an enumeration of how China’s neighbors hate the Chinese and that China should therefore know its place?

If interests do not trump emotions in the long run, I guess we can hardly blame those fenqings turning over police cars with a Japanese emblem.

Shouldn’t we condemn the rabid anti-China feelings in Asia as we do the festering anti-Japanese emotions in China? Especially if those emotions are based on racist fears of a demographic takeover (Mongolia), resentment against a market dominant minority (South East Asia) or bad blood from centuries-old invasions (Vietnam).

Or are we implying that in China’s case, it’s all justified?

September 10, 2012 @ 4:13 pm | Comment

Well, all sides are moving from rhetoric to DEFCON 3.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/9534711/China-deploys-two-warships-after-Tokyo-announces-disputed-island-purchase.html

The Global Times said that Beijing could not rule out a possible “confrontation between China and the US-Japan alliance”. “China should be prepared for the worst,” it said.

This has been festering for years, but when things go a bit pear shaped in the Zhongnanhai…..

September 11, 2012 @ 3:17 pm | Comment

If interests do not trump emotions in the long run, I guess we can hardly blame those fenqings turning over police cars with a Japanese emblem.

The question to me is if people – fenqings or otherwise – should turn over police cars for their Japanese emblem, or for something else.

Hatred is always bad, because it blinds. But if a big country like China can’t live without it, how can the Vietnamese – or those Vietnamese to whom the description applies – resist their hatred of a neighbor who – according to t_co – thinks of itself as their hegemon?

September 11, 2012 @ 3:21 pm | Comment

Japanese should apologize to China after China apologize to Mongolians and Manchus for invading their home lands and assimilating genetically from 1890thies-untill now.Russians also should apologize for taking off East Siberia and Far East provincies from Mongol and Manchu-Tungus nations.We Mongolians apologize to Chinese people for invading and supressing them in Toba-Wei dynasty era by Mongolian speaking Toba tribe and in Kidan rea (Liao dynasty in Chinese) by Mongolian speaking Kidan tribe and in Yuan dynasty era (1260-1360) by fraction of military force of Great Mongolian Empire.We Mongolians apologize to Chinese people for terrorizing and attacking them from 8th century BC till 17th century AD which became main cause of building Chinese Great Wall.

December 2, 2012 @ 2:22 am | Comment

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