Search Results for “senkaku”

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Greek Cargo Ship collides with Chinese Fishing Boat near Senkakus

A Chinese fishing boat and a Greek cargo ship collided Thursday morning in high seas near Japan’s Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea,

reports Radio Japan:

A Japanese patrol boat rescued six of the fishing boat crewmembers, and is searching for the missing eight. The boat is believed to have sunk. No one on board the cargo ship was hurt.

Friday, April 25, 2014

U.S.-Japanese Alliance covers Senkaku Islands: Greater Japanese contributions welcome, says Obama; Neighbors mindful, says FMPRC

U.S. president Barack Obama wound up a visit to Japan on Friday and began a visit to South Korea.

The Japanese and US governments issued a joint statement on Friday, after an unusual delay, reports Radio Japan. The statement says the United States and Japan are committed to taking the bold steps necessary to complete a high-standard, ambitious and comprehensive TPP agreement, and says the US and Japan underscore the importance of maintaining maritime order based on international law, including the freedom of navigation and overflight. It was apparently alluding to China’s increased maritime activities.

The statement also says the US provides all necessary capabilities to meet its commitments under the US-Japan security treaty. It says these commitments cover all territories under the administration of Japan, including the Senkaku Islands, adds Radio Japan.


Greater contributions?

American president Obama and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe held a press conference on Thursday, and the White House published a transcript of the press conference. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement that is currently meant to include Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam, was one of the big topics, another was military cooperation between Japan and the U.S..

Addressing the Japanese prime minister directly, Obama explicitly stated that under your leadership, Japan is also looking to make even greater contributions to peace and security around the world, which the United States very much welcomes.

Obama also explicitly stated that the American military alliance with Japan covered the Senkaku Islands (aka Diaoyutai Islands), replying to a question from a news person not mentioned by name or organization.

A U.S. reporter follows up on that.

Q (CNN): Thank you, Mr. President.  Arigato, Mr. Prime Minister. Mr. President, in regards to the Senkaku Islands, I just want to make sure that this is absolutely clear.  Are you saying that the U.S. would consider using military force were China to have some sort of military incursion in those islands to protect those islands?  And how does that not draw another red line that you would have to enforce of putting U.S. credibility, your credibility on the line once again, as it was in the case with Syria and Russia?  And on another key security issue, you mentioned North Korea in your meeting with the Prime Minister.  Are you issuing a warning to North Korea that there should not be another nuclear test?

And to Prime Minister Abe, do you have confidence in President Obama’s assurances about your security when the U.S. and the West were unable to stop Russia’s advances in Ukraine?  Thank you.

After this question, Obama’s answers began to take time. It started with Well, Jim, let me unpack that question because there’s a whole bunch of assumptions in there, some of which I don’t agree with. There was no “red line”, the president added, but only the standard interpretation over multiple administrations of the terms of the alliance, which is that territories under the administration of Japan are covered under the treaty. Diplomacy, not escalation, would be encouraged, according to Obama, who pointed to the removal of chemical weapons from Syria as an example for successful diplomacy.

On the day of Abe’s and Obama’s press conference in Tokyo, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang (秦刚) held one in Beijing, too.

Q: US President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met the press together after their meeting. Obama said that the Diaoyu Islands are under Japan’s administration and fall within the scope of the US-Japan security treaty. What is China’s comment?


A: China’s position on the issue of the Diaoyu Islands is clear, firm and consistent. China firmly opposes the inclusion of the Diaoyu Islands into the US-Japan security treaty. I have already clarified this solemn position yesterday.


I want to add that the so-called US-Japan security treaty is the product of the Cold War era. It should not be cited to target a third party, let alone to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty. No matter what others may say or do, the solid fact that the Diaoyu Islands are integral parts of China’s territory cannot be changed, nor will our government’s and people’s determination and resolve to safeguard territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests be shaken.


The Obama administration had apparently prepared the ground with an interview. He had told Yomiuri Shimbun that our engagement with China does not and will not come at the expense of Japan or any other ally, and that the Senkaku Islands are administered by Japan and therefore fall within the scope of Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. And we oppose any unilateral attempts to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands.

On Wednesday, Qin Gang – as he pointed out on Thursday – had commented on Obama’s message, too.

Q: Today’s Yomiuri Shimbun published their interview with US President Barack Obama. Obama said in the interview that the Diaoyu Islands are under Japan’s administration and fall within the scope of US-Japan security treaty, adding that the US supports Japan in playing a bigger role in the field of security in the Asia Pacific. What is China’s comment?

A: China’s position on the issue of the Diaoyu Islands is clear and consistent. The Diaoyu Islands are an integral part of China over which China has indisputable sovereignty. The so-called control of the islands by the Japanese side is illegal and invalid. Their provocative actions are undeniable and unjustifiable. Our determination and resolve to safeguard territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests is unshakable.

It should be noted that the US-Japan alliance, as a bilateral arrangement forged during the Cold War era, should never infringe upon China’s territorial sovereignty and legitimate rights and interests. China firmly opposes the inclusion of the Diaoyu Islands into the US-Japan security treaty. The US should respect facts, act responsibly, stick to its commitment of taking no sides in relevant territorial disputes, think twice before saying or doing anything and truly play a constructive role in ensuring regional peace and stability.

For historical reasons, countries in the region as well as the international community are mindful about Japan’s policies in military and security areas. Considering the recent incidents, by incidents I mean the provocative words and actions of the Japanese authority on issues of history, territorial sovereignty and others, Japan’s moves in the military and security areas are also closely watched by us. We hope that relevant parties can show their respect for facts, tell right from wrong, and make positive efforts in safeguarding regional peace, security and stability. As for the Japanese side, we hope they can follow the trend of the times, featuring win-win cooperation, and show us with their concrete actions that they are still on the path of peaceful development.

Meantime, Obama has arrived in South Korea, and is scheduled to visit Malaysia and the Philippines after that.

Huanqiu Shibao, on Tuesday, published an account of an interview with Jin Canrong (金灿荣), a foreign-relations observer, who states a belief that Washington was aware of Japanese ambitions to lead America, rather than to be led by America, and that Washington was confident that its own leadership would prevail in U.S.-Japanese cooperation. However, nobody should make much of the fact that Obama wouldn’t stay in the State Guest House during his stay in Japan, or that he wasn’t accompanied by his wife. China’s feelings were hardly Obama’s concern when making these decisions. A researcher at the Japan Institute of the China Institutes Of Contemporary International Relations, Liu Junhong (刘军红), suggests that several successive Japanese governments had tried to bypass America in order to dominate the East Asian community, but that with America joining the TPP, this Japanese concept had disintegrated. Now, Japan hoped to achieve the goal of domination by “borrowing strength” from America.

“美国有信心主导美日关系而不是被日本主导,肯定不会被日本当枪使”,中国国际问题专家 金灿荣21日对《环球时报》说,对于日本期望美国为其站台的盘算,美国心里是清楚的,但如果认为奥巴马不住国宾馆、米歇尔不随行是顾虑中方感情,那显然是 想多了。金灿荣说,日本近期在扩大集体自卫权方面动作频繁,中方不要指望美国会“管教”日本,相反日本军事动作背后有美国的意思,因为美国人自信完全可以 控制住日本,希望日本在亚洲多发挥军事作用。中国现代国际关系研究院日本研究所研究员刘军红说,最近几届日本政府期待主导“东亚共同体”,也就是甩开美国 单干,但这个构想被美国的TPP瓦解了。现在日本仍未放弃主导亚洲,但希望通过借力美国来实现。

Huanqiu also quotes Russia Today‘s “Voice of Russia” as commenting on Monday that while countries visited by Obama wanted American security assurances, America might not be able to give such guarantees. Those countries needed to understand that America had always kept its own interests first on its mind, and that these interests wouldn’t allow America to openly antagonize China.


Meantime, the “Voice of Russia” is interviewing academics, too. On Friday, the former radio station’s website published remarks by Dmitry Babich, a political analyst of their own. America was lucky enough to have good economic relations with both China and Japan, Babich says, but instead of being a mediator between them Obama engaged himself 100% on the side of Japan, said that the US has to protect Japan according to the defense treaties. And in this way he alienated China and pushed it into the arms of Russia right on the eve of President Putin’s visit.

Or, maybe, Beijing allows Moscow to jump into China’s arms.

But then, Beijing has interests of its own, too. And not confronting America openly – i. e. to maintain big-power relations with Washington – may be a priority for Beijing, at least for the time being.



» Sino-Japan Communiqué, fully understood, July 27, 2010
» Previous posts mentioning Jin Canrong



Thursday, October 11, 2012

Senkaku Islands: a Fundraising Speech that went wrong

Huanqiu Shibao, via Northnews, Oct 11, 2012 —

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries official Eiichiro Washio said on October 9 that “who owns the Diaoyu islands doesn’t matter at all, they may as well belong to China”. The Japanese government warned Eiichiro Washio on October 10, suggesting that what he had said could lead to “misunderstandings” on the Chinese side.


According to Japanese television NHK, chief cabinet secretary Osamu Fujimura told a press conference on October 10 that “this morning, I got a phone call from the , concerning a warning issued to Eiichiro Washio. What Eiichiro Washio said strongly emphasized that Japan needed to strengthen the defense of the country’s territory, but the following content could very easily be misunderstood.” Fujimura said: “As far as I’m concerned, the central government has implemented the policy of ‘nationalization’, therefore, I hope that Eiichiro Washo will mind his talk”.


Fujimura told the press conference that “Eiichiro Washio has issued a clarification himself today, saying that he resolutely supports the center’s ‘nationalization’ policy, and absolutely does not believe that the islands may be owned by China.”


According to “Yomiuri Shimbun”, Japan’s minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries official Eiichiro Washio said on a fundraising dinner speech that “who owns the Diaoyu islands doesn’t matter at all, they may as well belong to China.” There may have been some faulty formulations, [attention – the remaining words of this paragraph may be a mistranslation on my part – JR] but the matter just looked as if “Chinese government” had been written on the Japanese land register. “Yoimuri Shimbun” believes that Eiichiro Washio contradicted with the Japanese government’s “nationalization” policy, and was probably severely criticized, also from the opposition.

据《读卖新闻》10日的报道,日本农林水产政务官鹫尾英一郎9日在其政治资金宴会上发言称,“钓鱼岛归谁都没有关系,也可以归中国。有些话说起来可能有语病,但这事情就像在日本的登记册上写上‘中国政府’一样这么简单。 ”《读卖新闻》认为,鹫尾的发言与日本政府“国有化”方针相悖,或会受到来自包括在野党的严厉批评。

Kyodo News, October 10, 2012 —

The Japanese government has taken a lawmaker in the Cabinet to task for making controversial remarks on the Senkaku Islands, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Wednesday »



» Debacle in the East China Sea, Pacific Rim Shots, Sep 25, 2012
» ‘Asian NATO’ looming, Oct 15, 2010
» Right-Wing Positions, Wikipedia, accessed Oct 11

Thursday, October 4, 2012

China’s Claim on the Senkakus: Liu Xiaoming’s Daily Telegraph Article in Full (probably)

PRC ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming (刘晓明), wrote an article for the Daily Telegraph, published online by the Telegraph on Wednesday, and by China News Service on Thursday.

The following is no translation in full, but you will find the full Chinese wording – according to China News Service – here.

The Telegraph version is shorter, and the emphasis is at times different, too. China News Service says that their version is the ambassador’s article in full. The following paragraphs are excerpts from the Chinese and the Telegraph versions.

Liu Xiaoming’s article for the Daily Telegraph, as quoted by China News Service online:

My first post as an ambassador was in Egypt. This ancient and beautiful country left many unforgettable memories, among them, the Mena House Hotel at the feet of the Cheops Pyramid, where the Cairo meeting was held. On November 27, 1943, it was here that the heads of China, Britain and America discussed the Japanese war and post-war order and plans, and produced the “Cairo Declaration”.


According to the Daily Telegraph:

My first ambassadorial post was to Egypt. I have many memories of this ancient and beautiful country. One is the Mena House Hotel, which I visited many times. Situated at the foot of the spectacular Cheops Pyramid, the hotel is the venue that produced the famous Cairo Declaration. It was published on 27 November 1943 after discussions between the leaders of China, Britain and the United States, and was the master plan for rebuilding international order following the war with Nazi Germany and Japan.


China News Service online:

History does not tolerate the reversal of a verdict. The Second World War brought deep suffering to many people, which cannot be forgotten. China and Britain have both suffered from fascism, which has deeply influenced them. Chinese and British forces once were in the battlefield, resisting and attacking Japanese fascism shoulder to shoulder, and made major contributions to the world’s victory over fascism. To acknowledge the results of the victory over fascism, to protect the post-war order, and to defend the “United Nations Charter’s” goals and principles is the common responsibility of Chinese and British society.


Daily Telegraph:

History shall not be reversed. We must not forget the untold sufferings incurred during World War II. China and Britain are both victims of fascism. We have shared memories and pains. Chinese and British troops fought side by side on the battleground against Japanese military fascism. It is the common responsibility of China and Britain and the entire international community to reaffirm the outcomes of the war against fascism and maintain the post-war international order.

China News Service:

German chancellor Brandt’s courage to kneel in Warsaw and his sincerity won Germany new trust and respect, in contrast to Japan, which lost the war, too, but never abandoned its historical baggage, which didn’t deeply reflect on its war crimes, which didn’t sincerely apologize, but rather tried to reverse history. This not only makes it hard to be trusted by its neighbors, but also keeps it from being forgiven by the world.


Daily Telegraph:

Nazism was born in Germany. On December 7, 1970, West German Chancellor Willy Brandt travelled to Poland and dropped to his knees before the monument to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943. Many in the world were deeply moved by this famous gesture of repentance and apology. The extraordinary courage and sincerity of Germany won it trust and respect.


The last paragraphs of the China News Service version are much more lengthy and angry than the one published by the Daily Telegraph. Other paragraphs may differ from version to version, too – I just translated the ones that caught my eye right away.



» Hawaii, not Pearl Harbor, Sep 7, 2012


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Recommended Links: Tibet, Senkakus, and Revolutionary Opera

Woeser posted her observations about a propaganda film apparently produced by CCTV, and available in Chinese and English on YouTube. High Peaks Pure Earth translated Woeser’s blogpost, which had previously been broadcast on Radio Free Asia (RFA):

How CCTV’s Propaganda Film Depicts the Tibetan Self-Immolators.

Another East-Western beauty contest has been going on there on the Peking Duck. The threads are often very helpful for me to reflect on my own views – as a German, my country’s past is similar to Japan’s. The difference is that the whole world seems to believe that in Germany, we have done “a much better job” at addressing the crimes of the past. That’s certainly true when it comes to history books, but few people seem to remember then U.S. president Ronald Reagan‘s visit to the Bitburg Cemetary, where members of the SS are buried, along with Wehrmacht soldiers – at the insistence of then German chancellor Helmut Kohl. I’m not going explain my views here; they can be found there, among many others.

But there’s one thing I’d like to note here. Too many people like to make fun of – frequently rather brainless, I agree – Chinese protesters, or about fenqings who show up there in the threads. I suspect that to make fun of them serves at least two purposes: to laugh away worries about a possible war, and to feel morally superior.

If “we” – the West, or the Western alliances – were “superior”, our governments would send a clear message to Beijing, even if only behind the scenes. If the CCP leaders intend to use our countries and their people – i. e. us – as bugaboos to increase “social cohesion” at home, we can’t look at China as a friendly country. If the CCP – a totalitarian regime, after all – discretionarily uses economic means to “punish” Japan, no other country’s companies should be allowed to profit from gaps provided by such boycotts and sanctions.

I’m not suggesting that no business should be done with China. But when we do business with a state-capitalist country, we’ll need a state-capitalist approach ourselves – unless we want to allow a totalitarian regime to play one country off against the other. As long as we allow this to happen, we have no reason to make fun of useful Chinese idiots.

Last but not least, the DPRK Sea of Blood Opera Troupe is or (probably) was on tour in China. If you are a revolutionary-opera connoisseur, and intend not to miss their next time in China (or elsewhere in the world), feed your anticipation with this review on Sino-NK. It starts with Act II, and contains links to two previous instalments of the review.



» Good Ganbu’s Friday Nights, Nov 29, 2009


Saturday, September 22, 2012

International Press Review: Senkakus, India’s Economic Reforms

1) Senkaku Islands

The Economist discusses what could be done to avoid a war about the Senkakus. One of their editorials suggest that China needs reassuring that, rather than seeking to contain it as Britain did 19th-century Germany, America wants a responsible China to realise its potential as a world power – but that would amount to shutting up completely, if this is the Economist’s point in case for reassuring China.

The Economist recommends three immediate safeguards.

Meantime, Hundreds of Japanese marched through downtown Tokyo on Saturday in a loud but tightly controlled protest against China’s claim to disputed islands in the East China Sea,

reports Associated Press (AP).

Organizers of Saturday’s march said more than 1,400 people participated. That figure appeared high, but a rough count found at least 800 protesters.

China News Service (中新社) on the same topic:

Tokyo, Sept 22 (Sun Ran reporting) – An anti-Chinese demonstration with several hundred participants, organized by (a) right-wing organization(s) erupted on Saturday. During this demonstration, no injuries or property losses occured.

中新社东京9月22日电 (记者 孙冉)日本东京22日爆发了由右翼团体组织发起的数百人规模的反华游行。当天游行中并未发生人员受伤及财产损失的情况。

The right-wing organization is the “Hang-In-There-Japan National Action Committee” [Ganbare Nippon], and its leader is former Japanese self-defense airforce chief of staff, Toshio Tamogami. The organizers said that 1200 common Japanese people had taken part in the demonstration, but according to China News Service’s reporter’s estimate, there were about six- to seventhousand people, far from a thousand.


The embassy apparently felt that no sufficient number of police had been deployed to protect the embassy, and the Chinese ambassador told China News Service that representations had been made to Japan to increase police presence and to protect [the embassy] and consulates on Japanese ground as well as Chinese-funded organizations (要求其采取切实措施并加强警力,保护好在日使领馆和中资机构的安全).

The “Go-Japan National Action Committee” is a Japanese extreme-right organization. In 2010, after a Chinese captain had been arrested, the organization also organized several anti-China demonstrations. On June 10 this year, the organization organized a fishing contest of more than 120 people in the Diaoyus adjacent waters.


Huanqiu Shibao republished the China News Service article. On the now customary emoticon board, 54 readers expressed anger, and twelve found the news ridiculous.

2) Global Economy

Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh made a televised speech on Friday, trying to explain recent economic reforms to the public – cutting diesel subsidies, limiting subsidies on cooking gas, and allowing foreign supermarket giants to buy large stakes in India’s retail sector.

Singh warned the public that

The world is not kind to those who do not tackle their own problems. Many European countries are in this position today. They cannot pay their bills and are looking to others for help. They are having to cut wages or pensions to satisfy potential lenders.

I am determined to see that India will not be pushed into that situation. But I can succeed only if I can persuade you to understand why we had to act.

People’s Daily Online reports on Singh’s speech, too, but mostly restates the opinions from the international papers and other media:

On September 20, 50 million Indians are said to have taken part in an unprecedented national strike. On September 21, the “wave of explosions” reached the world of politics. Six members of Singh’s cabinet resigned, the ruling coalition split, and the Indian government was nearly “on the ropes”. Will the reforms be groundbreaking, or the beginning of a fierce struggle? In the view of German media, Singh, who is almost eighty years old, has been pushed with his back nearly to the wall: it’s either reform, or the end of his rule.

20日,据说5000万印度人参加了史无前例的全国性罢工。21日,“大爆炸冲击波”延至政坛,辛格内阁中有6人退出,执政联盟分裂,印度政府踏上“摇摆 的绳索”。这次改革是开天辟地,还是开启一场恶斗?在德国媒体看来,年近80的辛格似乎已被逼到墙角:要么改革,要么执政结束。


“Now, Singh needs to sell the concept of freedom to the Indians”, a Bloomberg analysis says, and these reforms meant that in the current economic crisis, only shock therapy could be an effective cure. The “Voice of Germany” [Deutsche Welle] commented on Friday that Singh had made more changes in his economic policies within a few days, than in all the eight past years. […] The “Chicago Tribune” says that as India’s credit ratings faced the threat of falling to “junk status”, Singh has no time to demonstrate preparedness to consolidate the troubled economy, and rather has to run reforms at high speed, hoping to survive the “difficult time”. On Friday, Singh said in a nation-wide televised speech that “money doesn’t grow from trees”, and called on the people to “support the reforms against economic difficulties”.

“现在辛格需要向印度人兜售自由理念”。彭博新闻社分析称,这些改革措施意味着印度在经济危机的情况下只能通过“休克疗法”来治疗。“德国之声”21日评论称,辛格在几天之内对经济政策作出的改动,比过去8年总和还要多。[…..] 《芝加哥论坛报》称,信用评级面临降为“垃圾”级的威胁,辛格已经没时间展示整顿经济的严肃态度,从而强调改革速度,期望挺过“艰难时刻”。21日,辛格对全国发表演讲,称“钱不能从树上长出来”,他呼吁民众“支持应对经济困境的改革”。


But even if you only quote non-Chinese media and experts, you’ll find someone who provides the correct conclusions. People’s Daily Online quotes an “Open Europe” researcher, from a Huanqiu Shibao interview:

Britain’s “Open Europe” think tank’s researcher 保罗·罗宾逊*) told Huanqiu Shibao in an interview on September 21 that India’s most outstanding achievement in the past twenty years of reforms had been the privatization of state-owned companies. Those measures had provided Indian economic development with a more relaxed environment. However, 罗宾逊 believes that the instability of a democratic political system had led to indecisive government which kept sticking to conventions. China’s reforms had been clearly stronger than India’s, and deeper, too. Therefore, the effects [in China] had also been greater.

英国“开放欧洲”智库研究员保罗·罗宾逊21日在接受《环球时报》采访时表示,印度过去20多年的改革中最可圈可点的是对国有企业的“私有化”改革。政府 的改革举措为印度经济发展赢得了更为宽松的环境。不过罗宾逊认为,印度民主政治制度的不稳定导致政府优柔寡断和墨守成规,中国改革的力度明显比印度大,而 且中国的改革比印度更深入,因此效果也更大。



*) This isn’t a Chinese name, but I didn’t find its English equivalent.



» Singh’s Team, Times of India, Sep 22, 2012
» Too Complex to keep the Peace, Sep 18, 2012
» Nationalist Movement Strengthens, WSJ, Aug 14, 2012


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Senkakus: Some Plans are too Complex to keep the Peace

One Conflict, two Sustainable Solutions

When it comes to the Senkakus (or Diaoyu Islands, in Chinese), I’m sure there are lawyers who can make a convincing case for China’s, or for Japan’s position. The immediate problem seems to be that neither side – neither Beijing, nor Tokyo – will be prepared to have an international court – the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) would be a likely address – decide their dispute. The Economist suggested a natural solution, i. e.:

Our own suggestion is for governments to agree to turn the Senkakus and the seas round them—along with other rocks contested by Japan and South Korea—into pioneering marine protected areas. As well as preventing war between humans, it would help other species.

Hardcore ecologists may agree. If any territory that gets contested by anyone was ti be turned into ecological habitat, too, they might agree even more. But what we need in this context aren’t conservation areas. International relations need rules.

In that light, another suggestion, also by the Economist, but in another article, makes much more sense:

[..] for the majority of disputes, the courts can provide fair results. It may take decades to finish the job, but a long wait is better than the alternative. In the words of one international lawyer: going to court is always cheaper than going to war.

The Economist believes in progress. That doesn’t mean that they would never support war. They supported the war against Iraq in 2003, for example. But generally, their stance seems to be that global economic integration and growing prosperity would be the real way forward. By habitat or by law.

After all, war on Iraq looked manageable, in 2003. A war between China and Japan, one a nuclear military power, the other quite probably backed by a nuclear military power, looks very different, not to mention the impact on the global economy, even if war could be limited.

Click the blood to enter the Mukden Incident Museum

Click the blood to enter the Mukden Incident Museum

It is right to work for peace. But should we take the peace for granted?

Foarp appears to believe that, and cites two reasons:

  • it is the government that drives the demonstrations in China, which in themselves fit a long running pattern for such demonstrations
  • There is nothing to fight for. The islands themselves are of little or no value and are incapable of sustaining significant numbers of inhabitants.

In short, according to Foarp, the current

sudden outburst of government-directed anger against Japan is most likely an attempt at distraction from the CCP’s current problems surrounding this year’s transition of leadership in Beijing. Put simply, in observing Chinese political affairs you should never forget which hand holds the whip.

Totalitarianism can change Public Opinion, but not Anytime

Both Foarp and I, if I remember our past discussions correctly, think of China as a totalitarian state. But that doesn’t mean that the whip is irrevocably in the hands of the CCP. The CCP did create many of the factors that make nationalism a double-edged sword for Beijing. Nationalism can be the mastic that holds the party and the “masses” together. But nationalism is also one of the few areas of “public opinion” where government censorship on “patriotic” utterances looks truly awkward, and makes the CCP’s own “patriotism” look dingy. In short: a petroleum tanker notched up to full speed over decades – think of patriotic education as the heavy fuel that drives it – can’t easily be stopped within days, or even weeks, without get into odds with people whose anger you would better agree with, for the sake of your own credibility.

Japan is no one-party dictatorship. But there are political parties which use nationalism as a whip on more moderate competitors. Yoshihiko Noda‘s decision to buy three of the Senkaku islands was most probably driven by the desire to snatch that booty away from Shintaro Ishihara, Tokyo’s nationalistic mayor, who had previously planned to buy those islands from its private owners. Depending on Japan’s future national elections, nationalists may still inherit those islands from the moderates.

Nationalism may come, in many ways, naturally. That is debatable in itself, but it’s my belief that love for ones own country, even hot-headed at times, for a limited period and under certain circumstances, can be natural. What is not so natural is the mixture of victimization and megalomania Chinese students have been fed with for many decades. It’s a rather philistine kind of megalomania, but it is too presumptuous to be considered normal. The Bangkok Post published an article by Robert Sutter on Tuesday, and it is more outspoken than what you will get to read in most cases. Above all, it describes a Chinese tendency to believe in a unity of foreign-policy principles and practice, while  from the viewpoint of the neighbours and foreign specialists, the principles kept changing and gaps between principles and practice often were very wide. And Chinese opinion sees whatever problems China faces with neighbours and other concerned powers including the US over sensitive issues of sovereignty and security as caused by them and certainly not by China.

Combine that with a belief that China is becoming invincible. Most Chinese citizens have never been in the army. Even less have seen genuine war. War seems to be a remote thing, even if it should occur. When Yugoslavia was on fire in the 1990s, I was in China, and I was told that Europe was enviable – it had Northern Ireland, the Basque country, and Yugoslavia. There was real action in our place. And those who talked that way were no idiots who ran around in camouflage suits after hours – they were quite normal people. It became a completely different story when the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was bombed a few weeks later.

Patriotism is – in itself – a good thing. That’s why all powers, but totalitarian ones in particular, want to manipulate it to their own ends. A totalitarian political system has the most comprehensive plans. The problem with that, as Walter Sobchak famously said:

If the plan gets too complex something always goes wrong.

Tokyo, and most Japanese people, probably don’t want war. Beijing, and most Chinese people, probably don’t want war, either. But Chinese anger on Japan is not just a welcome “distraction” for Beijing, as Foarp and many commenters suggest. It is fuel that Beijing wants to harness. That, see above, is a very complex plan.

Mark it zero.

This is a league game, Smokey. Mark it zero.

A disproportionate demand for respect – and that’s what nationalism is about -, is usually based on a long, complex story. Therefore, there’s no need for anything substantial to fight over. The demands are substance enough.

If you want a Fight, there’s Always something to Fight over

One can get too obsessed with history. It’s not the proverbial “mirror” to predict the future – but it does give us clues about human behavior – behavior that seems to make sense to contemporaries, even if it leads to war. Behavior that makes no sense to the later generations, or at hindsight, often not even in the countries who “won”.

On July 29 and 30, 1914, Russian Czar Nicholas II and German Emperor Wilhelm II exchanged several telegrams, in which they made demands on each other and at the same time assured each other that neither of them wanted a war. At the same time, Austria-Hungary was mobilizing its army. has English translations of those telegrams. What apparently missed: Serbia actually accepted Vienna’s ultimatum. The German emperor’s reaction:

That’s more than one could expect! A great moral success for Vienna, but with it all reason for war disappears. (Das ist mehr als man erwarten konnte! Ein großer moralischer Erfolg für Wien, aber damit fällt jeder Kriegsgrund weg.)

If all reason for war had disappeared, Vienna didn’t care, and invaded Serbia anyway. From that moment on, Czar Nicholas was under pressure from the Russian public – and Russia’s international position was at stake. Simply giving in would have been another blow, five years after the Bosnian crisis.

Neither war, nor a trade war between China and Japan, are inevitable. But status and influence in East Asia are a league game. Japan “retreated” in a diplomatic showdown about the arrest of a Chinese trawler crew in 2010.

Business concerns prevailed, the Economist noted, in September that year,

and so did China, in a sense. A bitter feud with Japan had been escalating since September 7th, when a Chinese fishing boat ran into a Japanese patrol in waters which both countries claim as sovereign territory. Today Japan released the boat’s Chinese skipper, who had been accused of bashing into the two Japanese vessels deliberately. With the release of the captain, Zhan Qixiong, the diplomatic world breathes a sigh of relief. But how to score this match? Japan comes off looking weak, as it succumbs to an avalanche of pressure.

That’s not going to work every time. Neither public pressure in China (which has long forgotten 2010 and feels “humiliated” all over again), nor public pressure in Japan should be underestimated.

Nothing to fight for?

People who feel that they are just bystanders may feel that real clashes would be irrational. People who feel that they are stakeholders may view things very differently.



» Out of Hand, Beijing Cream, Sep 17, 2012
» Caught in the Screw, Nov 18, 2010


Monday, September 10, 2012

Preparing for Tokyo’s Senkaku nationalization decision

The posts and articles quoted here were published prior to Tokyo’s decision today (Monday) to buy the islands. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

1) A Press Release, and a Blogger’s View

The following is from a blog on the Huanqiu Shibao platform. The blogger doesn’t appear to work for Huanqiu Shibao, and his blog, like many others with Huanqiu and other online papers, are probably his personal business. The blogger, Cao Gongyan, introduces himself on his blog as a journalist and a novelist, having won a number of prizes, among others from China Youth Daily and People’s Daily.

Update [Sept 12, 2012]: The post is back –

He first quotes a Huanqiu online report.

On September 9, 2012, State chairman Hu Jintao took part in the 20th APEC leaders’ informal meeting and had a discussion with Japanese prime minister Yoshihiko Noda. Hu Jintao made China’s position concerning Chinese-Japanese relations and the Diaoyu Islands*) clear.


Hu Jintao solemnly pointed out that recently, Chinese-Japanese relations had been in a grave situation, because of the Diaoyu issue. On the Diaoyu Islands issue, China’s position had been consistent and clear. Any methods Japan took to “buy the islands” was illegal and invalid, and China resolutely opposed them. China’s government was unwavering in its position of safeguarding territorial integrity. Japan had to fully understand the seriousness of the situation, it should not make a wrong decision, and together with China, safeguard the overall situation of developing Chinese-Japanese relations.


Cao’s view of the statement:

I had actually waited for this report for quite some hours. First, there was only a simple, one-line piece of news: “Hu Jintao talked with Yoshihiko Noda and made China’s position on the Diaoyu issue clear.” But which position? Which specific content? It didn’t say. Only at 8:29 in the evening, the detailed content was officially published! So I immediately read it, and with great pleasure.


Cao refers to Hu’s talk as “a representation of the Chinese people’s roar of justice (胡主席的讲话,代表了中国政府和人民被迫所发出的正义吼声!)”. And that’s only the beginning of his post. The rest is all praise.

2) Chongqing Evening News with an Academic’s Assessment

The following is from Chongqing Evening News (重庆晚报), republished online by Sina. Chongqing Evening News, in turn, based its article on Xinhua and on China News Service (中新社).

According to Japanese media, the Japanese government will hold a cabinet meeting on September 10, officially deciding the line of approach to the so-called “nationalization” of the Diaoyu Islands. If that goes smoothly, they will then sign a buying contract with the family known as the “proprietors of the territory” on September 11. Japanese prime minister Yoshihiko Noda, chief cabinet secretary Osamu Fujimura and minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism Yuichiro Hata are going to attend the cabinet meeting.


After the completion of the so-called “nationalization”, Japan’s government plans to have the Diaoyu Islands under the jurisdiction of the ministry of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism. The Japanese government will, on a cabinet meeting on September 11, to spend 2.05 billion Yen, equivalent to about 1.7 billion Yuan RMB, from its 2012 budget, on the purchase. According to Kyodo News Agency, the issue of how the Japanese government shall handle the 1.47 billion Yen raised by Tokyo Metropolitan Government to buy the islands has sparked close attention. Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara intends “to use the amount to build an emergency shelter and similar installations on the Diaoyu Islands”, but some donors believe that the donations should be refunded.


Concerning the Diaoyu Islands issue, experts say that the policy adopted by Japan had been salami tactics – closing in several steps, then withdrawing a bit. But this approach has been greatly controversial in Japan. The latest worry in Japanese media is that if China uses economic weapons on Japan, this would lead to disastrous consequences.


On September 6, former prime minister Shinzo Abe said on television that China would not attack the Diaoyu Islands by military means, because its priority was economic development. On September 7, Japan’s Fuji Television issued a commentary saying that concerning the Japanese government’s action of “nationalizing” the Diaoyu Islands, China would certainly not tacitly accept the move and take some kind of protest actions.


China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) Japan Research Institute’s professor Gao Hong believes that Japan’s economic situation still isn’t very good. Although recently, there had been small moves to a situation better than before, the economy remained rather sluggish, mainly because some main factors that restrained the economy couldn’t change short-term – i. e. factors like demographics, workforce, and aging. Not only the current, but also previous governents’ economic policies had been lacking vigor or methods to efficiently solving the problems.


Gao Hong believes that this was, first of all, a diplomatic struggle. In political terms, this kind of punching was obvious. I believe that if the categorical measure of the so-called “islands purchase” is taken [by Japan], we can take measures like sending patrol ships to pledge our sovereignty, and to maintain our principled stance. I think that strong pledges like patrolling, no matter if from fishing administration or naval surveillance, will serve our purposes quite well, and exert rather direct pressure on Japan. Of course, the precondition is that neither side wants to go to war. So, under the condition that there will be no military clashes, pledging sovereignty by a regular schedule of patrolling boats should be a rather good method. Of course, if Japan also takes the corresponding measures, and even causes an escalating conflict, this can move from the political and maritime field, to a setback in economic relations. That is also possible. Of course, that would be a next-step issue.


3) Is Hu Patriotic Enough?

That may not be quite enough for Mr Cao and other patriots. Maybe it won’t be good enough for the CCP either. The Epoch Times, an overseas Chinese paper founded by Falun Gong supporters in 1999 (according to Wikipedia),  and not owned by/speaking for Falun Gong (according to the paper’s Stephen Gregory), reports that Hu’s remarks [..] [to Yoshihiko Noda] were published for less than an hour before they were purged from Party websites and others affiliated with Beijing. Also according to the Epoch Times, Hong Kong-based satellite tv broadcaster Phoenix did likewise.

But either way, commercial media have kept their articles about Hu’s remarks to the Japanese prime minister online. Those don’t really reveal anything new, anyway. If they do pose a problem, it would probably be that they came publicly, from the party and state chairman himself, rather than from a foreign-ministry spokesman, as would be customary.

Expect quite some jamming on shortwave during the coming days.



*) Diaoyu or Diaoyutai is the Chinese name for the Senkakus.



» Chen Guangbiao’s Ad, Sept 7, 2012
» Greater Japanese awareness, July 15, 2012


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