By China Watcher
Western media, as usual, played up a similar tune that Japan has the upper-hand and continue to emphasize that the Diaoyu islands are Japan’s territory which is not up for discussion following the Chinese fishing boat collision with Japanese patrol vessels in September near the islands in the East China Sea that are claimed by both countries as well as Taiwan.
Chinese media pointed out that the disputed islands are Chinese owned based on Chinese historical annals. Actually, both sides have reiterated their own stand but most Western or US media, with a hidden agenda, left out the Chinese version of this and highlighted the Japanese version which is only one part of the story. Some Asian countries media particularly the online Singaporean owned Channel News Asia, published the one sided story taken wholesale from Reuters or AFP.
I noticed over the past weeks since the arrest of the fishing boat captain after the incident, the news coming from the West put the blame squarely on China and its’ so called “authoritarian” rulers.
First, what has this current Chinese government, which is not elected by the people generally, has to do with the crisis. Even if the Chinese government is run by democratically elected individuals, the response towards the infringement of Chinese territory or sovereignty will still be the same, if not worse. There were actual Chinese government efforts to restrain the huge anti-Japanese protest in China over the incident. Taiwan, a renegade province of China, is a good example of a democratic entity where the people are also up in arms against the Japanese claim that the no man area is its own territories.
Secondly, the reaction of the Chinese, I would say is normal and the response is acceptable to the large number of people of Chinese origin throughout the world. Japan put the good bilateral ties with China at risk by gambling on the notion that maintaining a tough stance with the arrest of the “trespassers” will strengthen its opinion that these disputed islands belonged to them. Beijing suspended ministerial-level talks with Tokyo and postponed talks on jointly developing undersea gas fields were good calculated decision which are deemed more “mature” responses as compared to the Tokyo release of the fishing boat captain (as stated by the Western media).
Beijing demanded that Tokyo offer an apology is also a measured and well thought request because the captain and his crew were detained in an area where the sovereignty is questionable and hence, it is not wrong of the Chinese government to seek for one. The argument from the Japanese that the Chinese trawler tried to ramp the Japanese coast guards is also questionable since the collision of a small trawler with a strongly build steel hull would tantamount to be more like a “suicidal” effort.
The imposition of a de facto export ban on rare earth materials needed in Japan for advanced manufacturing during the spat has opened up debates in the Nippon country of seeking substitutes or alternatives. The exports of valuable resources from China to the world are many and it is not easy for a small nation like Japan which is deprived of natural resources to locate cheaper and reliable substitutes elsewhere. Let see how Japan in the next few months come up with such a strategy.
The hue and cry by the Japanese cabinet and the many hawkish politicians can be depicted as “smaller little brothers throwing tantrums at their bigger brother who refused to give it to their unreasonable request”.
The impromptu meeting in a hallway at a conference in Europe was the highest-level contact between the countries since a bitter territorial dispute. This is needed very much by the Japanese and I believe it is initiated by the Japanese delegation.
Japan still has territorial claim or disputes with Russia over the northern territories off Hokkaido since the Second World War. The Russian has stand firm on the matter and Japan is left pondering what to do next. Perhaps, the bigger protector of Japan the US has some ideas but so far, we have not seen any.
As China is getting stronger and confident by the day, it is important not to be afraid of Japan for the following reasons:
1. Japan is deemed a small nation with no resources. India, Brazil and even Russia will one day overtake the industrialized nation due to the vast potential in terms of size and resources.
2. China is no longer the “sick man of Asia” as proclaimed by imperial Japan in the 1930s and 40s. At present, China has already proven over and over again that this stigma is wrong by becoming the second largest economy and has also made significant advances in science and technology.
3. The US which is Japan’s known protector is already on top of the world for the past one century and I believe that there is only direction when you are at the peak, that is, to move down and we are seeing some signs that this is happening. The question is how many years more can US protect them.
4. Japan has certainly lost its Asian identity and it is becoming more Western which indirectly means that its own society that promotes family bonding, industriousness and the display of strong problem solving spirit would no longer be present.
5. Japan cannot even do anything over the Kurile Islands occupied by Russia since World War Two.
6. China has diversified its investment and its market to the EU countries, ASEAN, Africa and certain Latin American countries to be less reliant on Japan and the US.
7. Japan and the South Korea economies are now very dependent on the strength of the Chinese economy, and the well being of these two countries would suffer if they antagonize China.
8. Even it there is no investment from Japan, China will still be able to survive albeit at a slower growth rate. In fact, the Japanese are not known to be generous in the transfer of technologies as compared to the French and the Germans.
9. China has team up with Russia and made a common stand in dealing with Japan over the territorial matters.
10. In terms of international diplomacy, the Chinese are far ahead of the Japanese whose foreign policy had become very much US-centric.