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How to Confront China in 2015

How to Confront China in 2015

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had a terrible meeting. In a closed-door, off-the-record get-together with senior media people, he let loose that the drawing up of new national security legislation was directed against China and against its ambitions in the South China Sea. Unfortunately for Abe, the media did not remain silent but reported the statement, leading to a translation by the Chinese media and embarrassment for leaders in Tokyo and Beijing eager to improve relations.
Japan’s biggest potential enemy is China of course, but those words can only be thought, not spoken. The existence of a Japanese Self-Defense Force takes China’s People’s Liberation Army as its most important potential enemy, just like regional drills by the United States’ Pacific fleet are also aimed at China.
The large communist nation is going through a period of intense nationalism, and public opinion and media reports feed on each other to fan the feelings of national pride. As a result, more flexibility in international government policies becomes harder, and relations between China and Japan deteriorate.
After the US sent its war planes to fly close to islands in the South China Sea which Beijing is expanding, Japan followed suit on June 23. Tokyo also supplied the Philippines with four P-3C surveillance aircraft, a move clearly designed to counter China’s territorial designs in the area.
After those events, the US agreed to meet China in the context of a strategic economic meeting, where issues like the South China Sea and the attacks of Chinese hackers on US commercial and government data were put on the table quite openly.
In Japan’s case, Abe made his comments at a supposedly private event, and even criticized US President Barack Obama, saying he had no idea what the US president’s administration was doing.
However, Abe’s wrong does not make Obama right. China has been making one move after the other challenging Washington’s leading role in the world. There’s not just its apparent expansionism in East Asia, there’s also its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank initiative and its new Silk Road concept, all of them policies which extend its reach far outside its home region, moving out into Central Asia and the Middle East.
Obama’s response to those initiatives has been unclear, fidgeting between confrontation and cooperation. Even other countries, including Japan and European Union member states like Germany, have been cooperating with China while also quarreling, or quarreling while maintaining cooperation was necessary. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel for example has been emphasizing trade cooperation with Beijing but without forgetting to remind China of the benefits of democracy and human rights. Yet the examples of Germany, the US and Japan cannot necessarily be followed by Taiwan because China lies so much closer to the island.
Neither the ruling Kuomintang nor the opposition Democratic Progressive Party have shown any intelligent policies to deal with the China issue. The KMT has relied on its ageing mantra of the “1992 Consensus” to build out relations with Beijing, but it has forgotten all about the need to differ on some subjects. The government has forgotten that its “One China” should be the Republic of China, allowing the ROC to disappear from the international stage and to fade away even domestically.
As to the DPP, it still has not succeeded in adopting a vague way to handle the Republic of China issue because it reasons it can only hang on to its supporters by clearly emphasizing Taiwan’s independence and sovereignty. The DPP has failed to notice that the China Taiwan faces is a country which says communism but which walks capitalism, a society which only looks at money.


Updated : 2021-09-28 14:32 GMT+08:00