THE SINO-JAPANESE CRISIS: AN UPDATE
"Tension between China and Japan over a group of disputed islands escalated on Tuesday as 11 Chinese patrol boats headed towards the Senkaku archipelago and anti-Japan protests spread across China. Thousands demonstrated outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing to mark the 81st anniversary of Japan’s invasion of Manchuria. Protests erupted again in dozens of other cities, including Shanghai, Chengdu and Shenzhen, prompting many Japanese companies to halt operations. The growing spat has thrown relations between the world’s second-largest and third-largest economy into one of their worst crises since the two established diplomatic ties 40 years ago. Tensions between the two powers have risen in recent months over the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. Japan controls the islands – called the Diaoyu in Chinese – which are also claimed by China and Taiwan. China has seen a spate of anti-Japan protests over the last week, when the Japanese government bought three of the islands from their private Japanese owner.... “This time that China and Japan are facing off directly . . . has triggered a reaction that exceeds past ones,” said Zhou Weihong, a professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University. In Beijing, some demonstrators threw rocks and water bottles at the Japanese embassy. Protesters chanted “Diaoyu Islands are China’s” and “Kneel down bastards”. One group urged Beijing: “Flatten Tokyo, destroy Japan!”. Tokyo called on China to ensure the safety of its citizens given “the important role that Japanese companies play in China’s economy”. There are about 141,000 Japanese living in China, according to the latest data from the Japanese government. However, there were signs that Beijing does not want the protests to escalate out of control. In Beijing, police blared warnings over loudspeakers, saying: “Japan has violated China’s rights and it is only natural to express your views . . . However, we ask that you please express your patriotism in an orderly, lawful, rational fashion....” “The problem is once it starts, it’s very difficult to stop,” Mr Dujarric said". By FT Reporters, "Anti-Japanese protests spread across China." The Financial Times. 18 September 2012, in www.ft.com.
"The most recent explanations of the outbreak of war in 1914 have emphasized less the Realpolitik logic of what happened than the ways in which domestic policies influenced state action. Foreign policy in the imperfectly democratized societies of Europe was not simply directed outward at potential foes or allies. International security mirrored domestic insecurity, and foreign policy provided a means of escape. The link between domestic instability and foreign expansion has been applied most often to Germany and to the ramshackle eastern empires of Austria-Hungary and Russia. The political impasse had its most explosive international consequences in the case of Germany—the Reich's "world policy" was born of efforts to construct a coalition between the middle class and agrarian conservatives; the collapse of that coalition and the increasing electoral power of the Social Democrats led some to toy with the idea of an escape through war. Austria-Hungary faced a dual threat, democratic and national. The latter had a direct connection with foreign policy through the South Slav question and the Serbian threat. Despite a stabilization in Russia after the 1905 Revolution, rapid industrialization and continued political backwardness combined with pan-Slav sentiment to push the czarist regime toward risky ventures. The absolutist states relied increasingly upon nationalist appeals to maintain support against exaggerated external threats. The old social order made its last stand in the higher civil service and the officer corps, which were awarded unusual power and often escaped firm political control.... The greatest incentive to risktaking is present when the internal prospects do not foreclose action altogether but are bad enough to encourage a foreign move that might aid in consolidation, particularly when this perception is coupled with an international setting that can still be challenged but with declining probability of success. From 1912 on, this set of perceptions came to be shared by the elites of Austria-Hungary and Germany".Miles Kahler, "Rumors of War: the 1914 analogy." Foreign Affairs (Winter 1979 / 1980), pp. 385-386. The latest outbreak of anti-Japanese demonstrations in China proper over the two nation's conflict concerning the Senkaku islands in the East China Seas and the verbal threats by the regime in Peking to take "further action" raises many questions at least for this observer 1. Specifically, are there any rational, realpolitik rationale for China's policies on this issue other than some variant of primat der Innenpolitik? Per se, on the surface, Peking's policies on this subject appears to be extremely dysfunctional and self-defeating. By endeavoring to browbeat Tokyo over an issue, in which China has little or no international support, or argument in terms of international law, would seem to indicate that Peking's policies are founded upon a felt need to garner domestic political support, by banging the drum of Anti-Japanese, Chinese nationalism. As Miles Kahler's comments about the domestic forces pushing for war in Europe circa 1914, seem to indicate, the parallels with modern-day China are somewhat uncanny. Added to which is the fact that there is currently a leadership transition ongoing this annum in Peking. This rather than any causation due to say energy deposits in the waters in the vicinity of the islands, is I would argue why Peking is behaving in the fashion that it is. And make no mistake, per contra to bien-pensant commentators like Ian Buruma, who are inclined to yell: 'plague on both you houses', this conflict is one that has been deliberately stoked by Peking 2. Whatever else one may say about the Japanese government, in this conflict Tokyo has been infinitely more sinned against than sinned itself. The reader might now ask that based upon the above analysis, what is the role of the Western powers? A simple question and a simple answer: support Japan. Support it overtly if in line with proper diplomatic etiquette, so that those in power in Peking who are pursuing this conflict cannot doubt for a second that by prolonging this crisis, it will be Peking and not Tokyo which will be the loser. Something given the overwhelming superior firepower of the Western powers, Peking should harbor no illusions on that score. If the argument could be made that the Great War occurred due to the fact that Kaiserreich Germany was unsure of the fact that Great Britain would join the Entente powers (France and Russia) in any continental war, one hopes that the current Chinese leadership suffers from no such malentendu 3. 1. Neil Connor, "Anti-Japan protests as China boats in disputed area." Agence France-Presse. 17 September 2012, in www.afp.com 2. Ian Buruma, "East Asia's Nationalist Fantasy Islands." Project Syndicate. 7 September 2012, in www.project-syndicate.org. 3. For the discussion on this point, that the Great War was made possible by Sir Edward Grey's failure to make clear to Germany's leaders that in any continental war, London would be on the side of its Entente allies, see: Niall Ferguson. The Pity of War. (1999), pp. 76-81 & 153-160 & passim; Hew Strachan. The First World War, Volume I: To Arms. (2001), pp. 73-97.