Sino-Japanese Standoff and International Politics
Posted on September 18th, 2012

By Afshain Afzal

It is always difficult to guess on which side camel will sit but the recent statement of Japanese Liberal Democratic Party’s Secretary General, Nobuteru Ishihara, has given quite clear signals from Washington. Ishihara said, “Our relations with China are at their worst ever since the normalization of relations between the two countries. It is precisely because the US-Japan alliance is shaken that neighbouring countries keep entering Japan’s territory and Japan’s peace and safety have come under great threat.” 

It is pertinent to mention here that relations with Washington had also turned hostile after the ruling Democrats took power in 2009. The ongoing tension between China and Japan over Diaoyu Islands flared last month when on the intelligence input from Washington Japan detained Chinese activists who had landed on the islands. This led anti-Japanese protests in China followed by political statement from Tokyo that they intend buying Island from Japanese businessman.

If we recall, on 16 April 2012, Tokyo’s Governor Shintaro Ishihara during a speech at the Heritage Foundation, a think-tank in Washington issued statement that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is negotiating with the owner of three major islands in the uninhabited chain. The present standoff has been conspired to realize Japanese political circles the necessity of alliance with US. If we critically examine the latest developments we would arrive to the conclusions that it was US’ most advanced submarines in the Philippines’ Subic Bay this month which generated alarms in Beijing while Japanese action of detention of Chinese was taken as part of the plan. The expanding US’ submarine presence in the region especially on bases in Guam, Japan and Hawaii coupled with movement on Subic near Chinese Navy’s southernmost submarine base on the side of a cliff on Hainan Island was something that required monitoring.

Beijing did what it had to do but both Japan and China should not come to point of no return. In fact it is the third countries that are playing their game in the regions. Washington would be benefitted from the present standoff in three ways. Firstly, due to Chinese commitments to put her own house in order, US’ Navy presence in Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean would remain undetected, which may pose threat to Iran. Secondly, it would also provide chance to anti-China block to win geo-strategically important countries like Maldives to its side, directly or through its partners like India.  And thirdly, it would distort the international image of Japan as well as China, which will help India to contest United Nations Security Council’s seat quite comfortably.

In fact, western nations have completely backed Capitalist India as third world playboy for US in the Asian region. In the recent move involving Navy buildup in Indian Ocean against Iran, China being a Veto power has international obligations and Beijing must remain current on day to day movements in the Arabian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea. The present Chinese standoff with Japan would not allow its Navy to move to the other side of the world and monitor US-Israeli moves. Indian also got a life time opportunity to mend its fence with Maldives in order to isolate China. To counter Chinese influence in Maldives, Indian Defence Minister AK Antony is on a three-day visit to Male in connection with inauguration of a Military Hospital and foundation stone laying ceremony of the Training Academy of the Maldivian National Defence Forces.

In another development, Japan’s ambassador-designate to China, Shinichi Nishimiya, died in unacceptable circumstances on 16 September 2012. Doctors were looking into the cause of death. He was to join in mid-October to take over from Uichiro Niwa as Japan’s Ambassador in Beijing. The latest setback in long-troubled relations between China and Japan are due to Washington’s instigation and assurance to some politicians for support against Beijing.

As the tension between two powers increased, Washington gained golden chance to cash this opportunity to further isolate China and Japan. The dispute over the islands is not only distorting international image of both the countries but is also militarily weaken them in favour of countries ambitious to come up as new powers in the region. There is no doubt, being strong supporter of cooperation between regional countries, one also needs to comprehend that India’s invitation to western powers on Asian land and waters would be no wise step. Japan’s decision to buy the disputed islands seems to be a political decision rather than Tokyo ambitious plans against China.

The magnitude of the tension between the two nations has grown so out of proportion that Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda had to ask Beijing to ensure the safety of Japanese people and businesses amid growing anti-Japan demonstrations. New Delhi’s interference in internal affairs of smaller states in South Asia left Male in chaos. It is the wisdom of Maldivian leadership to agree on early elections otherwise US had been stressing Maldives to hold elections in end 2013. The fact cannot be denied that Washington always looked for tackling single individuals as compared to negotiations with elected representatives.

To conclude, if the tension continues, Japan will be forced to pull out its national from China and vice versa. Such moves will only and only benefit enemies of Japan and China, who want their hegemony in the regions. It is high time that both the countries agree on bilateral talks to ease their tension, as further escalations are neither in the interest of two countries nor for the global peace. afshainafzal@yahoo.com

2 Responses to “Sino-Japanese Standoff and International Politics”

  1. nandimitra Says:

    This is the story of our world, The americans practice chess, ordinary people are made to pay.

  2. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Xi Jinping is expected to replace Hu Jintao. Hu Jintao’s supporters were out-voted when they tried to keep Xi Jinping out of succession at meetings 5 years ago. But Hu Jintao may promote vice-premier Li Keqiang at the last minute. Currently Li Keqiang is expected to replace Premier Wen Jiabao, who is tainted by corruption following his family amassed $2.7 billion in the past 10 years. Still, ousting Xi Jinping may not be necessary because as Premier Li Keqiang could remain Hu Jintao’s man in the palace.
    Xi Jinping, groomed as Hu Jintao’s successor for almost 5 years, suddenly disappeared from public 2 months ago for more than a month. That was strange for a person found on front pages almost daily, including a high profile visit to the US last February. During his absence, Xi Jinping did not attend an important session of China’s Military Commission of which he is the Vice-Chairman and Hu Jintao is the Chairman. If Xi Jinping’s recent disappearance was caused by poor health rather than political infighting, making him the leader could become a problem because Xi Jinping may not survive his 10-year term. Xi Jinping’s supporters were clashed with Hu Jintao’s group earlier this year because Hu Jintao wants to continue as China’s Military Commission Chairman for another 2 years. There is precedent for that as Deng Xiaoping also continued as China’s Military Commission Chairman for 2 years after handing over China’s reins to Hu Jintao. Xi Jinping’s supporters want him to have full control of the military and the civilian Politburo immediately after accession. They do not want Hu Jintao breathing down on them for another few years.
    Xi Jinping favors entrepreneurial and capitalist-style business but is also close to the military. If Xi Jinping’s ascension results in a slant towards the military, US President Obama may have new problems on his hands as China would assert more power in its neighborhood, causing erosion of US leadership there. With foreign reserves of more than $3 trillion, China already has more money than the US to buy influence with foreign leaders.
    China is not hostile to the West but its leaders have urgent need for their own survival to boost the economy and improve social equity for their people. That boost will inevitably confer more wealth and power to China, which will eventually make many in the West very nervous.

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