“Japan will suffer more”

I was struck by the hubris and aggressiveness in this Global Times editorial, which includes a number of veiled threats.

With wider strategic interests to be considered, China has to take a more sophisticated approach in tackling the issue. It needs to deal with Japan and keep an eye on its global strategy simultaneously. For a long time, Japan was more developed than China, and once invaded us, but this is no reason for China to be stuck in an inferiority complex.

For now, China should strive to end Japan’s actual control over the islands. But the majority of China’s resources must be distributed globally. More success in other parts of the world will help China to smash Japan’s illusion of taking over Diaoyu.

Solving the issue will be a long-term struggle, but it is Japan that will suffer more since the country is in decline.

After a century of complicated feelings toward its neighbor, mixing admiration, hatred and misery, it is time for China to rebuild its psychological strength against Japan.

I’m not quite sure what that last sentence means but it doesn’t sound good.


How does Japan look at the Chinese protests?

Almost all of the news we’ve been reading and watching about the at-times violent demonstrations against the Japanese in China have focused on China’s perspective, according to this article in Slate (and according to my own perceptions as an avid news junkie). “The Japanese see things rather differently,” the writer remarks, “but it’s not like anyone would know.”

We are so used to reading about what angry Chinese are saying about Japan in BBS threads, it’s refreshing to see a similar analysis of what the Japanese are saying.

First of all, the Japanese don’t see China as a victim. China’s nationalism, as belligerent as it may appear, is rooted in a sense of suffering from a “century of humiliation” that goes back to the First Opium War and the British acquisition of Hong Kong in 1842. What some of the more rabid Chinese don’t appreciate, however, is that the rest of the world — especially Japan — does not see China as the underdog.

One Channel 2 discussion thread showed a map of a “unified” China that includes Japan, painted red. “Today’s China is the world’s most aggressive country,” responded one commenter. Another said, “No matter how you look at it, the imperialist nation is China.” Yet another, “ ‘Down with Japan’s imperialism!’—I don’t want to hear that from some guys who have anachronistic territorial expansion ambitions.” In a separate discussion, a commenter wrote, “the next World War will be China vs. the world.” There were also calls for Japan to develop a stronger military of its own and not be so reliant on the U.S.-Japan security alliance. “As America’s power has gotten weaker, Japan must protect its own country.”

Some threads, she writes, question whether these protests are even about Japan, and might instead be an outlet for Chinese people’s frustration with domestic issues, like the great divide between the rich and the poor.


Anti-Japan fever

There’s a superb first-hand account of what’s going on outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing.

In the middle of the street there was a partition with police directing people to parade around it in long circles. People had huge Chinese flags and banners saying things like “Fuck little Japan.” What I was most surprised by were the number of Chairman Mao posters floating around. I asked a few people about this and the consensus was “Mao would never let Japan get away with this.”

As the crowds paraded around, they sang patriotic songs, chanted “Little Japan, fuck your mother,” “Chairman Mao 10,000 years,” “China 10,000 years” and most significantly “Communist Party 10,000 years.” (“10,000 years” basically means “Long live…”)

This mass outpouring obviously had official sanction. The police’s presence was to direct the protests rather than try to hamper them in any way.

This so reminds me of the simmering hatred of Japan that surged to the top back in 2005 with all the controversy over the Yasukuni shrine. There, too, the police facilitated the protestors, some officers handing them eggs to throw. They take a more active role in curtailing the demostrations after protestors become too violent, hurling rocks at the embassy. We always knew the Diaoyu islands were a tinder box; now it’s exploded. (more…)