Rising tensions between China and Japan could boil over

Discussion in 'China' started by W.G.Ewald, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    Is World War Three about to start... by accident? Max Hastings asks whether rising tensions between China and Japan could boil over | Mail Online

     
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  3. Menhit

    Menhit Regular Member

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    The probability of WW3 starting from East Asia is less than its probability of starting from Middle East which is already very tensed.
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    After Yasukuni, China Closes The Door On Abe: Why Is He Smiling?

    There can be no doubt that Japan’s relations with China are at the lowest point since the end of WWII. This week China publicly declared that Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo “is not welcome” and that Chinese leaders will not meet with him.

    It is interesting–if not particularly relevant–to speculate whether the status of persona non grata is something that, once assigned by China, is ever withdrawn, or whether one takes it to the grave. (I suspect that it is more permanent than a bad tattoo.) What is relevant is that as long as Abe remains prime minister the ban will certainly remain and, as a consequence, rapprochement between China and Japan to something like a normal bi-lateral relationship will be impossible.

    Bottom line: We are now compelled to look beyond Abe’s term. The current Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) charter limits the party president to two consecutive three year terms. Having been elected president in 2012, unless the rules change (highly unlikely) Abe will not be term limited and will still be prime minister through 2018. Four years is a very long time, even in geopolitics.

    The fillip that pushed relations over this precipice was ostensibly Abe’s December 26 visit to Yasukuni Shrine. But it is probably true that China seized upon that visit as a pretext and opportunity to close a door on negotiations on the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands dispute as long as Abe clearly was not prepared to negotiate (as he repeatedly indicated he was not).

    Abe, for his part, must have calculated that the Yasukuni visit could cause this result. The scenario analysis might have accorded such a Chinese reaction a 30-40% probability. He was willing to take the risk.

    He probably hoped for it. And, ironically, the Chinese, for there part, were well pleased to be provided this pretext to break off contact.

    I have previously offered that for PM Abe and his hardline supporters within the LDP, and for his new found allies in the Japan Restoration Party, determined as they are to revise Japan’s “Peace Constitution” and to accommodate the U.S. Department of Defense by expanding the role of Japan’s military within a ever more blatantly anti-China U.S.-Japan military alliance, the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute is a kamikaze (“divine wind”)–a crisis that if it did not exist would need to be created.

    It is obvious too that the increasingly militarized Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute (the most recent development in which is Beijing’s designation of a air defense identification zone–ADIZ–over the islands) has served well the China’s military-political-industrial establishment’s interest in continuing its offensive and defensive forces buildup while helping to Xi Jinping to consolidate his leadership.

    Neither side is interested in resolving the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute if such resolution is not completely on its own terms, which is clearly not going to happen absent some force majeure event. On the contrary, the deadlock is providing highly mutually useful. It has established a threshold of tension and discord that enables both sides to claim exaggerated injury from perceived slights or provocations (read: Yasukuni) and to over-react in response, raising the threshold and the pressure on the other side.

    The questions we should be asking are: Where is all this leading? How is it impacting U.S. interests? And, most urgently, what is the Obama administration doing to protect and further U.S. interests?

    It should be obvious that U.S. diplomacy in this crisis has been feckless in the extreme, a scandal of historic proportions. (That Caroline Kennedy, Obama’s new ambassador to Tokyo, was on vacation after only two months on the job when Abe visited Yasukuni, is understandable. It was the day after Christmas. But no one is expecting much from her after she returns.) We can only hope that it does not become a historic disaster for all the countries and peoples concerned.

    Last month’s Vice President Biden state visit to China, a follow up to last June’s bold and highly promising Sunnylands Summit between President Obama and President Xi, seems to have been fruitless, if not counterproductive. Biden arrived in Beijing after meeting with Abe and declaring that the U.S.-Japan alliance is the “cornerstone” of U.S. security in Asia.

    Biden’s words were music to Abe’s ears and elicited one of the intended responses: effective pressure on Okinawa’s governor to approve building a big new U.S. air base that will, in part, replace the Futenma Marine air base but is likely to have expanded missions. The impression that the Pentagon (to the exclusion of others) is orchestrating U.S. diplomacy and overall policy in Asia, both toward Japan and China, is inescapable.

    In Beijing, VP Biden admitted to U.S.-China relations being the “central, organizing principle” in international relations in this century. The problem is, while admitting to this principle, the U.S. has been doing virtually nothing to “operationalize” (to use a term favored in Washington) it.

    Quite the opposite. In both theory and practice, the U.S.-Japan alliance is incompatible with a stable, constructive U.S.-China relationship. “Strengthening” the alliance as a “cornerstone” of U.S. security is antithetical and incompatible with a “central, organizing principle” of U.S.-China relations.

    China’s umbrage at Abe’s obstinacy, and Abe’s obstinacy itself, as well as the deadlock on Senkaku/Diaoyu can at root be attributed to the contradictions inherent the U.S. dominants post-WWII/Cold War security order in East Asia of which the U.S.-Japan alliance is, indeed, the “cornerstone” (and the U.S.-Korea alliance an adjunct).

    Defending, much less “strengthening,” the status quo will only exacerbate tensions and increase risks. Fundamental change is needed and needed most in Washington, D.C. Obama’s “pivot to Asia” should be reversed.

    After Yasukuni, China Closes The Door On Abe: Why Is He Smiling? - Forbes
     
  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Should Obama’s “pivot to Asia” should be reversed?
     
  6. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    Kerry is concentrating on Middle East.
    @Menhit
     
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