CHINA AND THE JAPANESE-AMERICAN ALLIANCE: A COMMENT
"A top Chinese general has lashed out at the US and Japan, accusing the two countries of teaming up against China and making “provocative” comments amid escalating Asian maritime tensions. Speaking at a defence forum in Singapore on Sunday, Wang Guanzhong, deputy chief of the Chinese general staff, lambasted the US and Japanese defence ministers for telling Asian counterparts that China was using intimidation to assert its territorial claims. US defence secretary Chuck Hagel said on Saturday that the US would “not look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged”. He added that China was undermining its claims that the South China Sea was a “sea of peace, friendship and co-operation” by using coercive tactics. The spat came as US President Barack Obama prepared for a trip to Europe where he will attend a G7 meeting and second world war D-day commemorations. Republican senator and presidential candidate hopeful Ted Cruz on Sunday attacked Mr Obama’s foreign policy, saying: “Every region of the world has gotten worse; America has weakened, our enemies have been strengthened.” In the face of mounting efforts by the US and Japan to shore up new security relationships in Asia, Gen Wang said China opposed both the practice of building military alliances and “attempts by any country to dominate regional affairs”. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said on Friday that Japan would give more support to southeast Asian nations facing Chinese pressure. Gen Wang said: “The speeches by Mr Abe and Mr Hagel gave me the impression that they co-ordinated with each other, they supported each other, they encouraged each other and they took the advantage of speaking first . . . and staged provocative actions and challenges against China." The Shangri-La Dialogue forum has become one of the key defense events in Asia, particularly as China becomes more willing to voice its views. Gen Wang said he had not intended to deliver a critical speech, but felt compelled to respond to Mr Hagel whose speech was “full of hegemony”. This year’s event became more heated because of the escalating disputes in the South China Sea and East China Sea. China is embroiled in maritime disputes around the region, including with Manila and Tokyo. Scores of Chinese and Vietnamese ships are also involved in a stand-off near the disputed Paracel Islands after China started drilling for oil there in early May. China’s neighbours are concerned about the “nine-dash line”, a demarcation on Chinese maps that encloses much of the South China Sea, suggesting that Beijing lays claim to most of the resource-rich waters".Demetri Sevastopulo, "Beijing [Peking] hits out at US and Japan alliance". The Financial Times. 1 June 2014, in www.ft.com.
"Even if there is an argument for economic interaction with Beijing, China is still a potential threat to stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Its military power is currently no match for that of the United States. But that condition is not necessarily permanent. What we do know is that China is a great power with unresolved vital interests, particularly concerning Taiwan and the South China Sea. China resents the role of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region. This means that China is not a 'status quo' power but one that would like to alter Asia's balance of power in its own favor. That alone makes it a strategic competitor, not the 'strategic partner' the Clinton Administration once called it....Some things take time. U.S. policy toward China requires nuance and balance. It is important to promote China's internal transition through economic interaction while containing Chinese power and security ambitions."Condolezza Rice, "Promoting the National Interest," Foreign Affairs (January / February 2000), pp. 56-57. The comments by the deputy chief of the Chinese general staff, General Wang give the lie, if such were indeed needed or required at this point in time, that the Peoples Republic is either a 'responsible stakeholder' or indeed a status quo ante bellum power, `a la Henry Kissinger's fantasies 1. It is nothing of the sort of course. Indeed it is a revisionist, expansionist, albeit not suicidal, Great Power, which would like to enjoy regional dominance if not hegemony. Hence the comments by General Wang underscore the fact that sans, the Japanese-American alliance, the Far East would be much more vulnerable to Chinese power grabs then it is at present. This is not to say that the PRC aims to either attack Japan or the American Seventh fleet in the near or not so near future. This is unlikely. It is merely the case that left to itself, Peking will endeavor to browbeat and pressure its neighbors in the South China Seas to accepting Peking's expansionist and self-serving definitions of its maritime and other borders. The only response to recent Chinese policies in this vein are a strengthening of the alliance between Tokyo and Washington as well as offering diplomatic and other support to those nations in the region who feel threatened by Peking. In the words of Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe over the past week-end:
"Japan will offer its utmost support for the efforts of the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as they work to ensure the security of the seas and the skies, and thoroughly maintain freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight 2".The Orient would be a much safer place if the American President would reiterate the same language as his Japanese ally. And forcefully back-up his mots with action. 1. For a typically Kissingerian view along these lines, see: "Avoiding a US-China Cold War," The Washington Post. 14 January 2011, in www.washingtonpost.com 2. Demetri Sevastopulo, "Abe says Japan will support nations in disputes with China". The Financial Times. 30 May 2014, in www.ft.com.