A fairly short, provocative article in the Asia Times about American trade pressure being exerted on Southeast Asian economies. I don't entirely agree in the broader picture with Editor Crispin's cynical view of the US-ASEAN trade relationship, but it's definitely worth reading.
Actually, in an earlier era Chinese nationals would not have served in an observer mission in Lebanon, and the People’s Republic would have taken a pass on the whole subject. But China now aspires to play an active role on the global stage, which is why it sends skilled diplomats like Wang Guangya to the U.N. That’s the good news. The bad news is that China’s view of “the international order” is very different from that of the United States, or of the West, and has led it to frustrate much of the agenda that makes the U.N. worth caring about. The People’s Republic has used its position as a permanent, veto-bearing member of the Security Council to protect abusive regimes with which it is on friendly terms, including those of Sudan, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Myanmar and North Korea. And in the showdown with Iran that is now consuming the Security Council, and indeed the West itself, China is prepared to play the role of spoiler, blocking attempts to levy sanctions against the intransigent regime in Tehran.
Price Tag: US$1.77 billion. By far the largest deal in Thai history.
Ho Ching, the formidable wife of Singapore's Prime Minister, is apparently set to announce the purchase Monday of a controlling interest in Shin Corp, the company built up and effectively created by Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Billionaire Thaksin had been accused of conflict of interest as being Thailand's richest man (or one of) and also running the country.
So up steps Ho Ching. Much more important than her being the wife of Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong is her being the helmswoman of Temasek Holding, the holding company of Singapore Inc., which has about US$80 billion of assets under management - at least. The sheer scale of the transaction has driven up the Baht against the US dollar. It also gives Singapore control of Thailand's largest mobile operator, not to mention all of its satellite networks and an airline.
Before World War I, the countries of Europe were united by the bloodlines of their monarchs. It seems in 21st century Asia, they are united by the private equity funds of their de facto national flagship holding companies.
Breathtaking stuff. But who can argue with economic interdependence being the best way forward for ASEAN? It particularly crucial for Singapore, which must define for itself the hinterland in which it will be the paramount provider of capital and services, and indeed, its identity for the 21st century (especially in the face of the China opportunity/threat). This audacious deal surely highlights Singapore's intentions to be a major regional economic power. Let's see if Singapore's people can also step up to the role with regional entrepreneurial horizons - and whether its other neighbors, like Malaysia and Indonesia, can ever become comfortable with Singapore.
To me, the big winner is Thailand - well past the '97 crisis, secure in its China relationship to the north, with ever-growing links with Singapore and other regional neighbors, and one of the most open, cosmopolitan economies in Southeast Asia. Malaysia may be miffed and feel short-circuited, though, to be sure - let's hope Thaksin does more and not less, to assuage his own Muslims and those across the border.
A fascinating article in the Herald Tribune about China's efforts with its 'Confucius Institutes' (like the Alliance Francaise or Goethe Institutes for France and Germany) that promote Chinese language instruction in America, Europe and Asia. It discusses the growing importance of learning Chinese in Thailand, a country that forbade formal teaching of the language just two decades ago. The growing bilateral ties between China and Thailand, a nation with many ethnic Chinese, is the backdrop by which language instruction is examined as a projection of Chinese 'soft power' in the latter country. I will quote the article:
Beijing recently established the Confucius Institute, modelled on the British Council and German Goethe Institute, as a nonprofit outfit with the stated mission of "promoting Chinese language and culture and supporting local Chinese teaching." Eleven of the centers have been established in the United States, Europe and Asia. China's national office for teaching Chinese as a foreign language, which runs the Confucius Institutes, will provide textbooks for schools in Southeast Asia with the catchy title "Happy Chinese."
All of this is a sign of expanding Chinese soft power. But what are the implications of the spread of Chinese language and culture? It's a more important question in a region like Southeast Asia where as many as half the people living in urban areas like Bangkok are of Chinese descent. Many of the young students who attend Jiang's class in the Chiang Mai school have Chinese roots - their fathers and grandfathers came from China. Learning Chinese has deeper implications than the earlier fad in the 1980s of learning Japanese. For one thing, it's hard to become a Japanese citizen...
There's certainly a reason in business circles to learn Chinese; Thailand has already signed a bilateral free-trade agreement with China and is negotiating one with the United States. Over a million Japanese visited Thailand last year, but this year a million Chinese tourists are expected to visit Thailand, according to the Ministry of Tourism.
The article ends, half-jokingly, by saying there is a practical reason why ethnic Chinese Thais might want to learn Mandarin - the growing gender imbalance in China, due to that country's preference for boys while subject to a one-child policy.
Thailand has been the first of the ASEAN states to have done an about-face with regard to its Chinese population - with the previously ethnic Chinese going from being suspicious harborers of dual nationalisms (and previously, Maoist sympathies) to ambassadors and prized links between themselves and the growing regional hegemon. Clearly the fact that race relations in Thailand have been far better than in other ASEAN (particularly Muslim) countries has been a factor.
But to what extent will this trend be replicated, eventually, in other parts of Southeast Asia? And to what extent will the identities of ethnic Chinese in these countries blur as China's presence in Southeast Asia becomes daily more tangible, and it becomes economically more advantageous to identify oneself as one of the 'Happy Chinese' as opposed to Thai or Malaysian?
Well, I guess China is thought of as being 'Neo-Confucian' with the five traditional relationships (the most relevant one to the CCP being the one between the State-Individual, in a patron-subordinate relationship). Of course, some regard 'Neo-Confucian' as being a euphemism for 'corporatist non-democracy'.
I guess soft power projection only has utility for purposes other than promoting tourism when accompanied by 'hard' power or at least commercial/economic power. To the extent Goethe Instituts have helped Daimler Chrysler, BMW and Siemens do business in German in other countries, that has been somewhat useful. But let's face it, almost all the executives of such German and French companies also do the better part of their business every day in English (and sometimes Mandarin) anyway.
However, one could still make a convincing argument that the maintenance of such institutes (and the British Council) keeps the regard/image of those countries as significant world countries above and beyond what their world geopolitical or economic position might justify...
I too find it kind of funny that they should be called "Confucian Institutes"--so blatantly counter-revolutionary, to say the least. But somehow, "Mao Zedong Institute" just doesn't cut it...I guess it says a lot about how much China has changed.
Not so much "conspiracy theories" but something else.
In the 60s and 70s, Confucius was still pretty much the PRC's "public enemy number 1", well ok, perhaps not #1 but close to the top. He was supposed to stand for all that is backward, feudal, reactionary, counter-revolutionary, anti-materialistic (that's anti-唯物主义, which was supposed to be *the* philosophical sin), etc., etc., about the ancien regime (旧社会), the chief spokesperson of the feudal-slaveowning class (封建奴隶主阶级). In those bad old days, books bearing the title of "...critique (批判)...of Confucius" are a dime a dozen.
Fast forward to the 80s, "reform" and "opening up" sure. But during the period of "culture enthusiasm" (文化热), Confucianism is again criticised--now by reform minded young intellectuals who see in him all that is backward, feudal, anti-scientific, insular, etc., about traditional Chinese culture. (The documentary 河殇 is an excellent example.)
Fast forward to 2000s; the PRC is funding "Confucius Institutes" overseas. As we say in Chinese: 滄海桑田...
The bad guys of Southeast Asia, SLORC of Myanmar, the little North Korea in the making on the diametrically opposite side of China, have found themselves a champion. Their regime will quite likely be strongly coddled by a China that is taking an ever deeper interest in it for one major reason - oil. A revelation today that China is the world's second largest consumer of oil in the world after the United States was paired by a lower-key, but potentially as important announcement - that Myanmar (Burma) was declining co-operation with India on an India-Bangladesh-Myanmar gas pipeline and will be working just with China instead.
It has been some time since both Burma and India were both British colonies, but ties of history and of geographic proximity had kept the two countries on speaking terms. However, the greater political similarities between China and Burma (and between China and most of the countries on its western flank) mean that the latter, and other oil-rich states, will be falling increasingly into China's orbit. China offers not only ready cash, but also the prospect of being a counterweight against Indian, and ultimately also American influence.
It seems that most people have focused on Taiwan as the greatest potential flashpoint with the United States. But what is India's concern today may become America's concern tomorrow from a geopolitical standpoint.
Pedantic being my middle name, it is true that Burma and India have been on speaking terms forever. It is just that the Burmese generally can't stand Indians and will happily murder them given the chance. The Burmese also happily murder the Shan and anything Chinese - especially traders who end up owning the show.
At least that was the position when my god-father was stationed in Burma before and during WW2. Doesn't seem to have changed a bit.
Yes, these murderous thoughts seem rampant throughout the Southeast Asian mainland, and make some sort of Asian EU union rather far off without a spur (i.e. an apocalyptic war like WWII that brought France and Germany together) for greater cooperation.
Your stepfather must have lived through some very interesting times. I have been reading a book that speaks of that period about Jospeh Stilwell...fascinating stuff.
I had known someone from Burma also, who was one of the richest merchants in the country. The anti Chinese sentiment was high in the past, the anti Chinese militant leader who controlled Burma for about 30 years(?) was half Chinese himself. Many Burmese Chinese emigrated to Australia, some went to the US.
In the otherwise boring conflab that is the East Asia Summit, a small but significant gesture could prove the start of the thawing of icy Sino-Japan relations. I'll leave it to the China Daily to describe what happened (the photo is below the jump):
...as the leaders were signing the document, Koizumi leaned over and asked to borrow Wen's pen. But Wen ignored him for several seconds until Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi intervened to repeat the request. Wen then passed the pen to Koizumi with a smile.
It's in such simple gestures that true diplomacy is made. Thank goodness Koizumi is so forgetful...or was it a deliberate ploy? If so, it was a stroke of genius.
Meanwhile, Wen and Hu's efforts in AIDS outreach are having unintended consequences. Two AIDS patients the President shook hands with are now being ostracised in their villages. The same article reports that 60% of city dwellers are "nervous" about contact with HIV positive people. While the example of China's leadership in AIDS education is commendable, far more needs to be done to overcome the typical superstition and suscipions of people. It's the same battle the West fought 20 years ago. Perhaps Japan and Koizumi can help?
For months and years now, we have all speculated on the incomprehensibility of Koizumi's continued visits to the Yasukuni War Shrine. He does it for domestic political reasons, we are told. And often the conversation ends there, or is resumed on some aspect of Japan's World War II past.
That is, of course, legitimate; Japan does have an historic legacy to which it has never fully faced up to, and that ignorance (whether feigned or genuine) is naturally offensive to its neighbors and is serving as a very effective vehicle for China to adopt the mantle of regional leadership in East Asia.
But as staggered as I have been by the baldness of the shrine visits from an international relations perspective, I have striven to understand the domestic pressure for Koizumi to do so. This article, and others I have read, seem to be coalescing into a pattern in my mind. It is not overly profound, and I apologise to those whom have realized this long ago. But it seems clear that the reason Japan has a desire to hearken back to its militaristic roots is precisely because China has grown far stronger in the last ten years than it has been at any time in the last 150. So if China's rise is prompting ever more hardline positions in the Japanese psyche towards its massive neighbor, and converting more of the population to the wisdom of shrine visits, China will only grow increasingly irritated and spend more on its military might as a result. Are there any 'soft-landing' scenarios for this relationship between Beijing and Tokyo, which appear to be in free fall? If there are, I'd like to hear them.
Koizumi and the Chinese have invested too much in in the shrine visits that neither side can back off. Only face saving way (though not necessarily the mature way) for the Japanese is to wait until Koizumi leaves office, and the next prime minister can just choose not to make shrine visits. There still will be pressure on the next guy to visit, but he has more of an out.
Yes, I fear I share Richard W's dismal view. I think the issue has escalated in national importance on both sides that any backing down on either side is going to be viewed by both domestic audiences and other Asian neighbors as a capitulation and an implicit recognition of primacy in the other.
I think though, Japan has entered a war of words and actions that it cannot possibly win, especially with the lion's share of sympathy in the region going to China.
When I look at the issue, I think the answer is simple. China is developing at a great rate -- and this is good, the years of The West vs. The Rest need to come to an end and the World needs to become a 1st World, um, World. China is becoming an economic power, a military power, and even a space power.
The problem, is China isn't developing to be something good. The government is still oppressing it's people, even killing them as we saw just a few days ago.
Where is China getting all these money to build a space program and a huge military? They certainly aren't getting it from selling 1.25 shoes to Wall-mart alone.
Last year, Japan gave $8.9 Billion USD to China in aid. That amount is down 30% since 1997 and has gone down for 4 years in a row.
Cut it, cut it all. Problem solved. Place sanctions on China who no longer even pretends to be a good country, it openly admits to opening fire and killing 6 protesters. Another economically strong country is a very welcome thing in this world, but we don't need another America getting whatever it wants just by throwing a hissy-fit and then invading.
The world told America 'no' on Iraq, America invaded anyways. The world is essenctially saying 'no' to China (and Korea) on Yasukuni (since 1991 leaders from Chili, Sri Lanka, Finland, Lithuania, Tibet, Azerbaijan, Peru and others have visited Yasukuni, not just leaders from Japan; while most countries leaders aren't visiting Yasukuni, they aren't complaining about it either) does anyone think China wont attack? 3-4 times a year Chinese warships (subs) cross into Japanese waters. Remember a few years ago when Chinese fighter-planes slammed into an American spy plane over international waters?
What do people in Hong Kong think about this issue? My friends from China tell me that although the educational system teaches the Japanese are little devils and are beyond human they're so evil, they also tell me that England is taught to be the greatest enemy of China in history. The impression I get from the few people I've met from Hong Kong is that the people of Hong Kong are too preoccupied with their current oppressors to worry about a previous oppressor from 60+ years ago.
Yes, I do agree with Sun Bin that the sentiment in Hong Kong is on whole totally against Japan. I know few Asian countries that were once occupied by Japan (with perhaps the exception of Taiwan) that harbour any feelings in aggregate of warm friendship against Japan.
I visited the Yasukuni shrine myself, but that did not mean I was paying homage to its dead inhabitants. Rather I motivated by curiosity. I found it a very unapologetic depiction of Japan's role in the War, with a Zero poised for machine-gunning something or other, and a locomotive from the Burma Railroad. The nationalistic Rising Sun flags on sale there clearly demonstrate a lack of contrition on the part of the Japanese, or at least the shrine-visiting segment of the population, for their wartime atrocities.
Yes China, has many issues to face up to as well. But I think Chinese nationalism has less to answer for in an international context than Japan. Chinese atrocities over the last decades, for good or ill, have been perpetrated on its own citizens.
A few months ago I blogged about an incident at a Malaysian hotel where some Chinese guests were outraged by being handed out hotel dining cards that had a picture of a pig on them - indicating that they were consumers of pork. It was indeed a grave misunderstanding - local Chinese would have understood, but the mainland visitors did not - similar to how baby food in sub-Saharan Africa did horribly until makers realized that Africans generally put pictures of the food on the bottle... In any case, I felt in general that the growing power of China in Asia and the World would eventually spell changes that Malaysia may need to make with regard to discriminatory laws against its own Chinese minority.
It seems, on this holy Islamic Day of Hari Raya Puasa, celebrating the end of Ramadan fasting month, that Malaysia has slipped out a rather interesting announcement - that henceforth, all international airports in Malaysia would carry messages in Mandarin as well as in Bahasa and in English (as well as occasionally in Japanese). The fact that Mandarin has not been an official language despite almost 40% of the population being Chinese has been very significant (with reasons dating back to the Chinese Communist insurgency in the 1950s). But could this change, in response to growing throngs from the mainland, be the crack in the door? Perhaps the Malays may finally start to take a long, hard look at their country, and ask why they legislate affirmative action for themselves with their Bumiputra laws (to the economic detriment of the Chinese) when they constitute over 50% of the population. Mr. Badawi, give your people a fishing rod instead.
Its nice to hear KLIA is offering Mandarin announcement. For your info, its offer Arabic, too.
I doubt it's the Chinese tourist because their level of visitation has been drop by half (http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/v3/news.php?id=154817).
In my opinion, I think the tourist dynamic is changing. Its use to be luring the Chinese tourist but lately, there is a surge in the Middle Eastern tourist coming into Malaysia. If the trend continue, there might be arabic sign in the future.
As for affirmative action, nothing will change. Why change, when things is moving just fine?
1. birth rate difference
2. more importantly, policy guided self-identification. i.e. when there is a cross-marriage, the idenitification shifted toward bumi for 'affirmative treatment'. (same situation in china, when people identify biase toward minority)
Thanks for the correction, Jing. When I lived in neighboring Singapore from 1982-1991, it was around 38%. I had no idea that the demographics had changed so much in the interim.
All the more reason though, why a majority population should divest itself from laws that benefit it at the expense of a minority, and also root out a chief cause of corruption and corporate malfeasance in the country. In my view, it is a chief reason why the country is not more competitive. It should not be a racial issue, but has unfortunately become perpetually so due to the 'sons of the soil' rules.
With his postal privatization reform bill firmly in hand, I guess we all hoped Japan PM Koizumi would take a hint, but in 15 minutes he will visit Yasukuni Shrine. So much for the theory, that visits were taken to placate conservatives opposed to reform.
If only the Democrats had won, we could have had both a postal privatization plan and none of this nonsense.
On October 6 Harold Brown, former Secretary of Defense during the Carter Administration, came to UCSD to give a talk at an IR/PS Dean's Roundtable. His topic was "Managing Change: China and the U.S. in 2025". I attended his talk and following are the notes I took. Any errors are mine alone.
1. Earlier spoke at Rand China Forum
Last month spent a week in China (informed somewhat his view of the path of US/China relations)
2. Clear major new force is rise of China
Civil War in Islam may be a close 2nd
3. In 2025, what will US and China look like?
GDP: US: 3% growth will yield a 2 trillion USD economy: with a population of 350-370 million will yield 65,000USD per capita GDP
GDP: China: 8% growth will yield 7 trillion USD economy: with a population of 1.4 billion will yield 5,000USD per capita GDP (but 12,000-15,000 at PPP)
Both estimates perhaps over-optimistic because of:
US: effects of War on Terror, monetary/fiscal policy, energy shortages
China: urban/rural divide, no social safety net, demography (1-child policy), local differences
China will be the world’s manufacturing center (today it’s the US: it produces 2x China’s output)
Rising wage rates will push some jobs from China to India
4. Will pass over military balance question. Just says if US defense spending is level US will continue to be the biggest power in the world and the West Pacific
However, China is expanding its military
Conflict on Mainland would be to China’s advantage but Taiwan Straits conflict to the US’ advantage
5. China’s foreign policy is global
Unlike Japan’s, it’s not only economic, it has strategic political and military components
6. China is a rising power: historically leading power/rising power changes have yielded conflicts: this isn’t encouraging
One exception: UK to US change
20th Century: particularly noxious: 1900-1945: attempt by Germany/Japan to replace powers, USSR tried 1945-1990
Nuclear weapons: worked well with USSR, tamping down US/USSR conflict
Unlike USSR, Germany, Japan: China doesn’t have an ideology it wants to spread
US has this Wilsonian Impuse, this will damp down in next 10-15 years
China wants to be Asia’s greatest power
Brazil wants to be Latin America’s premier power and this doesn’t bother US too much
Both US and China have common interest in world trading system and we have “balanced” economies
Though this leads to some frictions: China’s intellectual property laws, contract enforcement
Protectionism in US, competition for energy, China already has ½ of US’ oil consumption and 3x US’ coal consumption
7. Energy consumption effects
Increasingly import oil from the Middle East, sea lanes are vulnerable to interdiction by US Navy
But China unlikely to challenge US Navy
Global climate change
By 2025 China and India will produce more CO2 than US
Will industrialized countries pay to clean up the mess?
China military expansion makes its neighbors nervous
Some pressure may build for US to withdraw from Asia: he thinks this would destabilize East Asia
US/Japan cooperation especially makes China sensitive
Any Japanese military capability worries China
9. Managing US/China relations
a. DPRK, Taiwan, internal PRC developments: key points
DPRK: we’ve had a good start
6-party talks may be a start to Northeast Asia security architecture
Taiwan: things currently damped down
Internal PRC developments
Will PRC become a democracy? Not likely
Question is how authoritarian will PRC be?
There is a lack of transparency in PRC
How will CCP try to stay in control?
Through greater social controls?
If faced with major threats to CCP control then perhaps they will use populism/nationalism to stay in power
10. He’s fundamentally optimistic: common threats and concerns will trump genuine differences and conflicts of interest
Question and Answer Session
1. China Navy: submarine fleet? Local San Diego naval leaders worry about it
Fundamentally, China military was a land force
Recently made a move to joint land/air/sea operations and make navy/air force less subordinate to army
US Navy is especially worried because it will have the primary role in the Taiwan Straits
US Navy also trying to hype the China threat to get a better budget (especially since Iraq and Afghanistan have focused monies on US Army)
It’s a legitimate worry: US Navy should focus on anti-submarine warfare
2. US Navy is smaller than before, so how to be optimistic?
During Brown years, US Navy was 2x as big, but USSR naval threat was much larger than Chinese Navy
China has no aircraft carriers (save for in amusement parks)
How to measure US Navy to its tasks? On this level it’s pretty good
China Navy lower power projection ability than UK or France
To improve US Navy better to improve current ships than increase their number: communications, intelligence
3. Higher education: is it in US long-term interests to educated Chinese in US universities and thus help China to catch up to US?
Especially in science and technology this is a problem
Helps with making sensible decisions to deal with global climate change or pandemics
Helps improve productivity
So US should continue to be open to foreign students
Many of these students will stay
Some will return to their home countries: this cuts both ways
They will improve their own economies which isn’t necessarily bad
If they develop positive opinion of US then that’s good
Will foreign Ph.Ds swamp US?
If economic system isn’t good it doesn’t matter how many Ph.Ds you have (social and political systems are important too)
USSR and Japan produced many engineers and they didn’t overtake US
In China the problem is management skill level, also there’s the question of China’s political development
4. Pros/Cons of Chinese buying US companies?
If we’re an open economy we should allow this to happen
Will we require reciprocity? There should be some
Outside of classified/strategic technology we should be open to China buying US companies
5. Chinese leadership has many scientists and engineers. What’s the effect?
Partly this is because there have been no business/law schools
Key is not to be a scientist, it’s to understand science
6. Oil in South China Sea: is this a source of conflict in that area?
Yes, but fortunately haven’t found much oil there
Energy conflicts have so far been worked out
Another reason China is increasing its navy
7. What will Chinese leadership look like in 2025?
Will be people born after Cultural Revolution but parents/grandparents will have suffered
Will they have the vision to solve PRC’s problems? Don’t know, but their style will be much different than the Founding Fathers
8. Robert Barnett just wrote a book separating world in the connected and unconnected worlds. US trying to make an enemy of China to justify their budgets. What do you think of the book?
Hasn’t actually read the book
China clearly joining the industrial world
Mistake to make China an enemy and it will be a mistake if we actively do that
Risk in both nations: leadership will excite the public to believe the other is an enemy
But we should also not let provocative actions go unchallenged (for either side)
9. Doesn’t believe USSR is an apt comparison to China: thinks Korea is a better comparison. Big concern is their legal system and protection of intellectual property
That’s why he also made comparisons to Japan
China might compete on entrepreneurial level (which USSR never did)
Perhaps when China has its own intellectual property it will more vigorously protect intellectual property
Chinese enforcement of contracts is quite weak
Importance of connections leads to corruption and is a real risk for doing business there and for Chinese themselves
According to TNR's Joshua Kurlantzick (Subscription-Required), there's closet militarists in Japan PM Koizumi's entourage. Amid the cheering as Japan's Upper House approved a postal privatization bill on Friday lurks the fear that amending Japan's pacifist constitution to permit remilitarization could be on Koizumi's agenda. East Asian neighbors didn't ry to hide how much they would have preferred the opposition, a pro-pacifist, Democratic party, with its own postal privatization plan, to win the September 11 election. Now, Kurlantzick is get America on the bandwagon.
A more powerful Japanese military may be inevitable, even necessary, if Washington's relations with other countries in the region, such as South Korea and China, continue to deteriorate. And Japan today is a democracy with strong civilian control over the armed forces, which have participated effectively in international peacekeeping. But many American officials don't recognize the potential damage Japanese remilitarization will do to America's already shaky image in Asia. Americans may have forgotten about Japanese abuses in the Pacific Theater during World War II, but the populations of countries in the region have not, and these abuses are often magnified by nationalist governments in China and other Asian nations eager to deflect attention from their own shortcomings and to justify increases in defense spending.
If the United States openly backs Japan's rearming, it could find itself and Tokyo ostracized by vital allies like Korea and Thailand, moving it even further from China. Many Japanese hawks don't seem to care. "What's the solution to North Korea?" Okazaki asked me when I visited his office. "A closer U.S.-Japan alliance." "What's the solution to China? A closer U.S.-Japan alliance." He pauses. "What's the solution to South Korea?" You can guess the rest. But, in the long run, America might not like the answer.
Putting aside the good reform legislation the Upper House just passed, though, is progressive dread about a remilitarized Japan warranted? The part about China's and South Korea's "shortcomings" is a huge speed pump in the argument to ignore. According to a Joong-ang Daily poll---mind you, ROK newspaper polls are like editorials with a few more quotes than usual, because the polling samples as a percentage of population are smaller than the margin of error---67% favored a ROK nuke. Even more depressing are some of the xenophobic attitudes justifying that opinion. North Korea has also aroused Japanese voters' ire, and, as Kurlantzick argues, Beijing incited more than rhetoric after anti-japanese riots earlier this year:
Beijing also seems to be playing into Japanese hawks' hands. Japan provides China with roughly $1 billion in annual direct development assistance, but a rash of anti-Japanese riots in China this spring reinforced the positions of Japanese politicians like Abe, who have questioned this assistance, as well as the broader Japan-China relationship. After the riots, The New York Times reported, a poll by Japan's trade agency showed that the percentage of Japanese companies planning to expand in China fell by more than 30 points.
These are the choices! Sentimental favorites aside, the choice between which horse to back is like choosing between a crack-backed cripple (DPRK), a slick-looking gelding with a temper (ROK), an obese, oat-slurping manure machine (PRC), and a winner owned by a criminal syndicate (Japan). Let's not even discuss Taiwan! The only aspect of the choice facing Washington, when it considers an East Asian policy, completely in its control is its own reputaion. Whomever Washington favors assumes Washington's faults, too. One choice is not good enough, so Washington needs to buy two, China and Japan. How Washington puts two blood enemies into the same stable is the foreign policy progressive Democrats need to devise.
The long-term dynamic in East Asia is the generations' old rivalry between China and Japan that could erupt into war at any time. Korean unification looms over the horizon. The question of Taiwan's status requires attention. But none of these questions, including economic liberalization and democratization, can proceed until Japan and China are yoked together like Germany and France into a mutual defense community.
So, let's stop making Japan into the bogeyman, or China, North Korea, etc. All choices are bad. Secretary of State Acheson put diplomatic capital on the line, including East Asia's, to bang Western Europe into the Coal and Steel Community, so now Washington owes the region. Or, watch the region go up in flames.
and asia in flames hurts US interests and may even security in its Pacific coast.
Japan has the ability (i.e. Plutonium) get nuke overnight. In fact, at least 4500 nukes! And it has ICBM capability after sending satellites to the sky.
When Korea re-unites, it is likely to get the Uranium/Plutonium from the North. It can be nuclearize overnnight as well. US needs to prevent this from happening. It can only do so if it denuclearizes Japan. Otherwise, Korea will use Japan as a reason to get nuke. (and Japan use NK as an excuse)
US needs to take full control of the enrichment plant in Rokkasho-Mura. Maybe that should be the price for Japan to get UN-SC seat.
(see below and the link to Asiatimes about Japanese nuke)
Totally agree with Sun Bin. Very insightful post.
However remilitarization of Japan and a future war between Japan and China may be American's interests. US has benefited from two world wars and gained its current monopoly position from its clever strategy in both Wars.
I would agree with you, lin, except that now more than ever, East Asia is a very important part of the global economy. The political gains from a confrontation are trounced by the fiscal and corporate losses. That's why this is such a problematic time in the region. Both rivals are on the verge of complementing each other perfectly. On that account, the current tension could be a sign of strength. But then, Japan and ROK have been nearly economically complementary for decades, but looming unification could exacerbate resentments. Having played this game in Europe, the world might have to watch it happen again in Asia.
the LDP noted the need to improve ties with Asian neighbors. Yet, the points was rarely mentioned in Koizumi's campaign speeches.
After the voting, the premier stopped short of dismissing the possibility of paying a visit to the Yasukuni Shrine when he was answering questions on a live program of the public broadcaster NHK. His repeated visits to the war criminal-enshrining facility was the major stumbling block in relations with China and South Korea.
And that's about it. Official China is likely in denial...and building up their foam for Koizumi's next shrine visit.