East China Sea: U.S. Flirting With Disastrous Proxy War
September 11, 2012
Discard illusion of friendly ties with Japan
[W]ith China’s nuclear deterrence, Japan is less likely to launch a military attack on China. Of course, Tokyo may remilitarize itself, even with nuclear armaments, encouraged by the US. But that still poses a limited threat to China. China has plenty of measures to restrain Japan. Pressure on Japan can also come from other neighboring countries.
Sino-Japanese relations suffered a serious blow yesterday when the Japanese government signed a deal to purchase the Diaoyu Islands with the self-proclaimed “owner.” The friendly ties between the two countries established in the 1970s collapsed completely.
Chinese anger of over a century toward Japan was awakened yesterday, and will in turn affect Japanese feelings toward China. It appears inevitable the two sides will be overwhelmed by hatred again now that more conflicts can be expected. China needs to be prepared for further deterioration of bilateral ties. For Beijing, the future priority isn’t to maintain stable ties, but to protect its core interests as Sino-Japanese relations sour.
Despite China’s commitment to building friendly neighboring ties, the Diaoyu issue has turned China and Japan into opponents. China isn’t used to having an adversary close by. But it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Japan inflicted painful atrocities against China in the past. It is now more developed than China, but is in decline. The balance of national power is shifting between the two. With such a close opponent, China can be spurred to action.
Japan depends on the Chinese market more than China does on the Japanese market. A political confrontation will bring insignificant economic damage to China. Meanwhile, with China’s nuclear deterrence, Japan is less likely to launch a military attack on China. Of course, Tokyo may remilitarize itself, even with nuclear armaments, encouraged by the US. But that still poses a limited threat to China. China has plenty of measures to restrain Japan. Pressure on Japan can also come from other neighboring countries.
China has been advocating friendly ties with its neighbor, but Japan has created enough troubles for China over the years. But its behavior toward the US and Russia demonstrates its inferiority toward strong countries. China cannot repeat what the US and Russia did to Japan. But a lesson is necessary to dispel its contempt toward China since the Meiji Restoration.
China is accumulating strength with its fast development. It can fully show this strength to Japan in a future conflict to reverse Japan’s attitude toward China. Until that time, it is possible to restart friendly ties between China and Japan. It may take 30 years if it goes smoothly. In a word, most young and middle-aged people will be able to see Japan treat China differently.
Keeping friendly neighboring ties is a good policy. But it cannot be achieved through one-sided begging and compromising.
September 11, 2012
Diaoyu will remain China’s
By Gao Hong*
Using its Cold War policy against China, the US handed over the administration of Okinawa, which was under its trusteeship, and the Diaoyu Islands to Japan in 1971 despite the vehement protests of the Chinese government and compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits. This is how the Diaoyu Islands problem became a territorial dispute between China and Japan, and the Americans are well aware of that.
Washington used the occasion to get behind Japan and hinted that the US-Japan security treaty covered the Diaoyu Islands. As a result, Japanese politicians are now playing with fire.
The US wants to fulfil its global strategic objectives, including containing China’s rise and undermining its maritime interests. The Diaoyu Islands are the first islands marked out by the West to contain China.
Japan has turned the dispute with China over the sovereignty of Diaoyu Islands into a farce. The machinations of Japanese politicians and right-wing activists’ attempt to “purchase” China’s Diaoyu Islands undermine the tacit understanding between China and Japan to shelve disputes and deal with more pressing issues.
In the latest development, the Japanese government said on Sept 10 it would “nationalize” the islands by “buying” it from their “owner” for 2.05 billion yen ($26 million) on Sept 11. Japan has not only intensified the dispute, but also continues to fan the flames of passion. Irrespective all the crafty plots, however, Japan cannot change the fact that the Diaoyu Islands belong to China.
China has made diplomatic representations and responded resolutely to reiterate the facts and drive sense into Japanese politicians. Chinese activists, too, have demonstrated their indignation and reiterated China’s sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands, reflecting Chinese people’s will to defend the country’s sovereignty.
Many of the contradictions between China and Japan are the creation of the United States.
After World War II, according to the Cairo Declaration (1943) and the Potsdam Proclamation (1945), the Chinese government resumed its sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands, which were illegally occupied by Japan after the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95).In 1951, Japan and the US signed an illegal treaty in San Francisco without inviting China, which should have been a party because the Diaoyu Islands are Chinese territory. The islands were then “entrusted” to the US according to the treaty.
The Chinese government has never recognized the San Francisco treaty. Using its Cold War policy against China, the US handed over the administration of Okinawa, which was under its trusteeship, and the Diaoyu Islands to Japan in 1971 despite the vehement protests of the Chinese government and compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits. This is how the Diaoyu Islands problem became a territorial dispute between China and Japan, and the Americans are well aware of that.
Japan asked the US to extend the US-Japan security treaty to cover China’s Diaoyu Islands so that Washington could help Tokyo if the territories under its administration came under armed attack. Japan wants to drag the US into the dispute over the Diaoyu Islands to enjoy the protective umbrella of the Americans.
After sowing the seeds of friction between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, the US wanted to observe the situation from a distance and reap the benefits emerging from an intensified dispute. But after China’s rise, Japan began asking the US for more support and greater commitment. Washington used the occasion to get behind Japan and hinted that the US-Japan security treaty covered the Diaoyu Islands. As a result, Japanese politicians are now playing with fire.
The US wants to fulfil its global strategic objectives, including containing China’s rise and undermining its maritime interests. The Diaoyu Islands are the first islands marked out by the West to contain China. Washington will not allow Beijing to regain control of the Diaoyu Islands without a struggle. It is determined not to allow Beijing to challenge its dominance in the Asia-Pacific region, even though Beijing has no plans to do so.
But the US will not sit by and watch while Japan tries the patience of China, which could draw Washington into a conflict between Beijing and Tokyo. This is also not in line with the US’ interests. It seems that after sowing the seeds of discord between China and Japan, the US wants to act as a mediator, a contradictory but unique role.
Washington and Tokyo are not engaged in a monolithic calculation. Besides, China’s increasingly rapid development has made it an indispensable partner for dialogue and cooperation for the US. And given China’s influence on the international community, the US has to consider overall Sino-US relations before taking any hasty decision. So in the final analysis, the Diaoyu Islands dispute is the result of a power game.
China is rising, albeit peacefully, and will not only protest against any unfair act, but also is determined to safeguard the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands. The timing and conditions for resolving the Diaoyu Islands dispute once and for all may not be mature enough, but China is determined to safeguard its sovereignty and Chinese activists’ successful landing on the Diaoyu Islands mirrors that determination.
There is no conflict between diplomatic struggle and the bottom-up efforts of the Chinese activists. But diplomacy has its own rules and arrangements, and it is difficult for activists to coordinate their moves with diplomatic measures, especially because Chinese activists desperate to safeguard China’s Diaoyu Islands include compatriots from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan and those living in foreign countries. Since civil efforts have their limitations, diplomacy should play the main role in resolving the dispute.
The Chinese leadership has reiterated that Diaoyu Islands are an inalienable part of China’s territory and China will “absolutely make no concession” on issues concerning its sovereignty and territorial integrity. On Sept 10, the Chinese government announced the baseline of territorial sea off the Diaoyu Islands.
China should send its ships on sovereign cruise and make the practice routine. That may push Japan back from its current stance that there is no sovereignty dispute over the Diaoyu Islands. The fact that the islands belong to China, combined with China’s growing influence on the world, will compel the international community to force Tokyo to the negotiating table to resolve the issue with Beijing. This process is moving toward progressive realization.
*The author is deputy director of the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.