April 20, 2005
Japan/China tensions (Updated April 20th)
Note: I am adding to previous coverage, starting from the Update below. The previous coverage is below the fold, in chronological order. The Huanxi riots are covered in another post.
Update April 20th
* Winston Marshall has a typically thorough look at Asian nationalism - he's optimistic that economic reality will force a reconciliation but not solve the longer term problems.
Everyone knows the outcome: China will get big, Japan will align its stars increasingly with Beijing in the region, and the US will have to go along with that. But everyone is working against that outcome now in an almost knee-jerk fashion.Read the whole thing.
* Another first hand account with pictures from Mitch in Shanghai.
* Spike notes an interesting piece of hypocrisy over the Japan textbooks and attitudes to Nazi insignia.
* A Japanese apology could be the last thing China actuallly wants.
* Fons says there will be more no more demonstrations tolerated and that Shanghai's government was sending out mixed signals.
* Many in Japan are blaming the Japanese PM for the troubles.
The Chinese riots also reflect a major domestic political change. The Chinese Communist Party has long ceased to be a party of Communism. It has instead switched to becoming a party of nationalism. It suits to use such occassions as an outlet to allow people to vent. It would much rather than anger is directed externally than people look inwardly and discuss Government failings, such as the riots in Dongyang (more on them in another post). The problem is China will find it hard to contain the emotions unleashed and that will be to its detriment.
China and Japan are both rising global powers. They are both grappling with China's economic rise but also with their emergence as global rather than only regional players. Sometimes that requires setting aside self-interest for a broader global good. It's an issue the United States constantly grapples with. This time China has a chance to assume the mantle of world statesman and deal with this situation. It makes good sense for Japan to join the UN Security Council. In the longer term it will be to China's benefit to have Japan there. To do that China's Government will have to look far further ahead than they have until now and show a willingness to challenege the Chinese public's perceptions rather than pander to them. At the same time some understanding and political nous for Japan would not go astray. Japan knows the reaction it gets from history texts and shrine visits. It might not understand them but it can deal with them by showing sensitivity.
The major issues here seem insolvable. But what's needed is some hard-headed pragmatism. An agreement to disagree but to work together to avoid such flare-ups would be a start. Actually meaning it would be better. Otherwise everyone in East Asia is a loser.
Other reading 13th April
* Curzon restates his argument why none of the fuss makes sense. Read the whole thing and the excellent comments for an overview of why this is a storm in a teacup from the Japanese side. I don't agree with some of his points but I do agree that it seems unlikely that any form of Japanese contrition will satisfy the Chinese public.
Why are the many Chinese historians who are angrily challenging and criticizing the new Japanese history school books not also angrily challenging and openly criticizing the historical lies made up by the Chinese Communists? Worse yet, most of those Chinese historians who are criticizing the Japanese lies had been participants in the vast project of the ideological departments to create these historical lies.
* China's chatroom warriors have been busy, manipulating a CNN poll on the issue with precise instructions. They must have finished up their work in Zimbabwe early.
* (18:02) Andres puts together an impressive piece that should be read in full, titled 0.3% and the free society. His conclusion:
It does no one any good, least of all China, for any of us to engage in apologetics for an unfree society that exhibits the unhealthy and even dangerous characteristics shown all too vividly these past couple of weeks. Continued indulgence of this lack of freedom is no virtue, criticism of the problems this lack causes is no vice. Unfree societies are dangerous to themselves and to their neighbors. Anti-Japanese riots cannot continue forever: as a social topic this will pass and others will appear. However, the problems associated with an unfree society will still be here and that is the real issue.Amongst other gems he also notes a point about both these protests and the ones after the Belegrade Embassy bombing in 1999: the students used the protests to test how far they could push the government and if the government proved weak in their response then the topic of the protests would turn domestic. That dovetails with the Huaxi riots, but now it's not just students testing the boundaries and the internet and mobile phones are playing a far bigger role.
* Andres also pointed out a tangentially related piece by Running Dog on being sorry in China.
* Yesterday (see below) I said Japan could go some way to cooling tensions by becoming more sensitive to the potential impact of actions. So awarding drilling rights in a contentious part of the East China Sea is not a smart move. On the other hand a joint history study is a smart move.
There's an interesting contrast between East Asia and Europe. Germany was able to face up to and sufficiently atone for its actions in WW2 and in return the rest of Europe and the United States responded by banding together and working for a better future. The past was not forgotten but it was not dwelt on either. The result? A Europe now so united it has created the EU and has the euro. Whatever else you think of the EU (and I'm no fan of much of it) it represents a united Europe, something currently impossible in East Asia. Interestingly China is backing Germany and India's attempts at UNSC seats. Along with Brazil the four countries have a pact to push for a seat together. An impasse seems likely, although there are hints that Germany can provide a knife to cut the Gordian Knot by jointly apologising with Japan, providing a face-saving solution and allowing the reform of the UNSC.
East Asia is instead constantly dwelling on the past at the expense of looking to the future. If you are always looking in the rear view mirror you cannot see the road ahead. The past matters. The future matters more.
Other reading April 15th
* Planned protests (repeated from yesterday): Andrea notes a protest due in Xiamen this weekend; Fons notes the same in Shanghai, and Danwei also has heard of the Shanghai gathering. Jeremy also reports on a planned Shenzhen march. Dan Washburn has the detailed instructions on this weekend's protests in Shanghai including the route, what to throw and how to get there. Interestingly it includes how to disseminate the information and a very interesting "Important" section. There is a protest due in Hong Kong this weekend as well. If China wants to put a lid on this thing, it will need to stop these marches this weekend.
The SCMP notes Shanghai public security authorities have not approved anti-Japan marches for this weekend. Could this be the beginning of the end? Plenty of websites, IMs and SMS messages are spreading the word about this weekend's events. Is China realising the subversive nature of modern communications might not always suit its purpose?
The American Consulate in Shanghai has posted another warning about this weekend's possible demonstrations.
From The Standard, a cartoon that perfectly sums up the situation:
Update April 17th/18th
* China clamped down hard on activists in Beijing, preventing large protests there. But Shanghai saw large protests. Dan Washburn has first hand reports, photos and video. There were reports of protests in around a dozen Chinese cities and the Japanese Foreign Minister's visit to China did little to ease tensions. China refused to apologise to Japan over the "spontaneous" protests. Elton John was right.
It's entirely possible that the students protesting Japan today want to draw upon the lessons of [Dowager Empress] Cixi and encourage the government to be bellicose even at the cost of development. And considering how important Japanese trade and investment is for China, the students are paradoxically calling for their leaders to command a weaker "stronger" China.It seems to me some of the best analysis and thinking on the current situation is coming from bloggers rather than the op-ed pages of the papers.
* Fons has some practical advice on dealing with the anti-Japan riots for those in business in China.
* Muninn has some translations from Japanese newspapers editorials on the riots.
* Vodkapundit says China has "found its Jews".
* Belgravia Dispatch argues China's current prosperity is a time to face up to its own past to head off potential trouble down the track.
* Oranckay has links to more pictures from the Shanghai protest.
* Todd Crowell dicusses the lessons of history: ...China and Japan have been rivals for the better part of the last thousand years. It should not be surprising that they are still jockeying for primacy in the region. The two countries are still influenced by their common Confucian culture. In Confucian terms, somebody has to be “big brother” and the other “little brother.”
Update April 19th
* Fons has seen a report that estimates up to half the protesters in Shanghai were cops! He also adds to the idea the Government had a hand in events with his observations on riot control.
I'm not trying to trivialize the issues that are being protested by the Chinese, but if they are trying to cause change in Japan, maybe some of them can try to talk to their allies in Japan like me instead of trying to force or scare into submission their enemy. A reasonable bridge building effort between activists and experts on both sides to try to address the issues through tactical maneuvers might be useful.
posted by Simon on 04.20.05 at 07:44 AM in the China politics
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0.3% and the Free Society
Excerpt: A fair bit of ink has been spilled either reporting or commenting on the recent anti-Japan riots that have occured in various cities across China the past couple of weeks.
Weblog: AndrÃ©s Gentry
Tracked: April 13, 2005 06:42 PM
China and Japan
Excerpt: While all of these issues provide the backdrop, I believe there is a much more sinister reason at work here. This is part of a Chinese government campaign to keep the pressure on Taiwan. The passage of the anti-secession law last month, is the first st...
Weblog: Far East Cynic
Tracked: April 14, 2005 08:36 AM
The Economist on expanding the UN Security Council
Excerpt: Japan, India and Brazil are natural candidates The Economist's leader on the rising tensions between China and Japan weighs in strongly in favour of Japan's inclusion in an expanded UN Security Council. If permanent membership of the council is to be ...
Weblog: The Acorn
Tracked: April 15, 2005 11:02 PM
MAKING MOVES ON COMMUNIST CHINA
Excerpt: I've been reading a lot about the maneuvering in Asia between China, India, Australia, and India. Of course, in the midst of all this, it doesn't help U.S. policy that China has been portrayed as a capitalist boomland with the slight burden of a commun...
Weblog: Publius Pundit
Tracked: April 16, 2005 09:47 AM
Simon's Overview of the Media Coverage
Excerpt: Simon World :: Japan/China tensions (Updated April 15th)...
Tracked: April 17, 2005 07:35 PM
Excerpt: Everyone is asking why China would allow the protests against Japan to continue.
Weblog: M.A.W.B. Squad
Tracked: April 19, 2005 02:06 AM
Excerpt: It gave EastSouthWestNorth “the creeps.” Simon World calls it downright “terrifying.” What can this horrific monster be? “It” is an English editorial from Ming Pao. I agree that whoever that wrote the editorial was p...
Weblog: Plum Blossoms
Tracked: April 20, 2005 10:14 AM
Is there any real freedom-of-speech in Japan?
Excerpt: "What does Chinese people cry for in this Anti-Japan Protests?" "How many times should we, Japanese, apologize for what we did in past?" As for me, Japanese, the issue looked like a same old persistent accusation of what Japan did in China during World...
Tracked: April 21, 2005 12:17 PM
Excerpt: A few words about the rational behind this journal, about my relationship to the Internet in general and the blogging community in particular, and about myself. --- It was after the anti-Japanese demonstration (some call it a "riot", and I can't ...
Weblog: Wild Goose Journal
Tracked: April 21, 2005 11:43 PM
Excerpt: Just when I was saying that the Asia-Africa Summit in Jakarta and Bandung would be a big waste of time,
Tracked: April 22, 2005 08:31 PM
Excerpt: PM Koizumi today in Jakarta:
Prime Minister Jun'ichiro Koizumi spoke at the Asia-Africa Summit that began in Jakarta 22 April. He cited the talk g...
Weblog: The White Peril ç™½ç¦
Tracked: April 22, 2005 09:43 PM
Japan Tries To Defuse China Crisis With Apology
Excerpt: In a sign of just how much Japan wants to short-circuit an increasingly nasty crisis with China, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's is repeating an apology for his country's World War II behavior that other Japanese Prime Ministers have given — o...
Weblog: The Moderate Voice
Tracked: April 23, 2005 02:16 AM
Nationalism vs patriotism
Excerpt: While the alert level regarding China's "rise of nationalism" continues to increase, few seem to question why basically the same political trend is referred to as "patriotism" if applied to the US and its "allies". Frankly, I'm baffled here. The aut...
Weblog: Wild Goose Journal
Tracked: April 25, 2005 10:37 AM
Who's reading the Chinese press?
Excerpt: Why do English-language stories on Chinese protests get so much more attention than protest stories that break in the mainland press? When villagers in Zhejiang protested during April, the mainstream media and blogosphere were all over it. When peop...
Weblog: CSR Asia - Corporate Social Responsibility in Asia
Tracked: May 6, 2005 10:55 PM
A random off topic comment, but Simon while I was scrolling down I noticed a small mistake on the left menu bar of your blog. Normally I wouldn't have noticed, and I never had before, but a html error caused the text to extend over the colour boundaries. All of this is irrelevant but the attention did lead me to realize that there is a grammatical error in the text. It reads [Praise (Real, Imagined, & Faint). Amusingly enough this is an example of "Engrish" one would normally expect to find in China. Faint is the incorrect word to use in this situation, the proper choice would be feigned. I can see the reason for the error, they are near homonyms and feigned is not generally used often in colloquial English. However the intended definition inferred from the rest of the passage would be of praise that was insincere or facetious. Faint simply does not fit this definition, but the past form of feign does.
your friendly neighborhood schoolmarm :) .posted by: Jing on 04.13.05 at 02:09 PM [permalink]
Thanks for pointing it out. I've fixed it.
It must have been there from when the site was redesigned. Thanks for spotting it. I've got some formatting issues in the sidebar but who's got time?posted by: Simon on 04.13.05 at 02:14 PM [permalink]
I was hoping to leave a trackback to you on this article, but I keep getting an error 404 page whenever I click on 'trackbacks'.
Gordonposted by: Gordon on 04.13.05 at 08:25 PM [permalink]
About the joint study proposal:
It is unfortunate that the Japanese government didn't mention the existing joint study of the Sino-Japanese war going on between a group of historians of China, Japan, and the US (see my notes from one of their meetings muninn.net/blog/2004/02/the-state-of-joint-study-of-the-sino-japanese-war.html)
The program was founded by Ezra Vogel at Harvard and has good funding and has continued for some years. (www.fas.harvard.edu/~asiactr/sino-japanese/)
There is also 2 separate projects: 1) The joint study group between Japanese and Korean historians focusing mostly on disagreements on the details of the 1910 annexation but branching out into issues of textbooks. 2) the transnational history textbook project being worked on by a whole group of East Asian scholars.posted by: Muninn on 04.14.05 at 12:14 PM [permalink]
Muninn: has the group made much progress in finding common ground?posted by: Simon on 04.14.05 at 03:44 PM [permalink]
As tensions heat up between two of the most powerful Asian nations, with neither willing to 'lose face' by appearing to back down, has Japan just irreversably upped the ante?
In a move certain to further infuriate China, Japan appears to be willing to officially honour those who committed what China believes were 'wartime atrocities'.
I've been following, with some oncern, the unfolding of that story at http://www.survivalistskills.com/NEWS35.HTM
There's also a fascinating page of current news articles the rise of China, the collapsing dollar, the
Please look this flash file, this is the problem between China and Japan.posted by: Mona on 04.23.05 at 05:21 AM [permalink]
From VALÉRIE NIQUET *
For several weeks, China has been in prey with an effervescence
* Director of the Observatory of the strategies Chinese and Asian of the Iris.posted by: valerie Niquet on 04.24.05 at 09:30 PM [permalink]