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The internal crisis and the aggressive foreign policy
Japan and China have been jointly playing with fire
Dr. Tao Peng
On September 10th, 2012, the Japanese government announced the “purchase” of Diaoyu Islands (called Senkaku Islands in Japan) and of the small groups of islands in the south and north, which belong to the Senkaku Islands, and the implementation of the “nationalization” of the islands. Then the Chinese side had started intense protest against it. On September14th, China sent six patrol vessels to patrol in territorial waters around the Diaoyu Islands and has begun to implement the routine monitoring and measurement on Diaoyu Islands. On September 15th, the Chinese government has intimated the 71 geographic coordinate for the Senkaku Islands group. Japan protested und called the Chinese actions as unprecedented ship-invasion by China. Beijing rejected the protest of Japan and arranged massive anti-Japanese demonstrations in several Chinese cities. According to Reports, Anti-Japanese demonstrations that have partially transmuted into the violence and the activities against the government and the Communist Party have erupted in more than 100 cities in China. Up until September 21th, China and Japan have sent Several ships (inclusive of warships) to demonstrate its own strength in respect of the disputed island territory
Why does Japan want to buy the Diaoyu Islands regardless of unpleasant consequences? For whatever reason are the anti-Japanese demonstrations in which different political demands have been expressed more widespread than ever before? Who will benefit at the end of this Sino-Japanese conflict? These questions must be answered.
Japan provoked and China poured oil over the fire
This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China. On July 17th, 2012, which was the 75th Anniversary of the “Marco Polo Bridge incident”, the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced at a conference for senior officers of the “Maritime Self-Defence Force” in public that the Japanese government would buy the Diaoyu Islands for a comprehensive study by a private owner. On September 15th, the Japanese government officially declared the “purchase” of Diaoyu Islands. The Japanese provocation irritates the nerves of the Chinese government and people and triggers a massive wave of protests throughout the country.
Apart from the strong protest and the mission of monitoring ships around the Diaoyu Islands, the Chinese response to the Japanese challenge is a largest anti-Japanese demonstration for 50 years, namely since the normalization of Sino-Japanese diplomatic relations in 1972. There have been anti-Japanese protests in several cities in China such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Xi’an, Harbin, Nanjing, Suzhou, Zunyi, Taiyuan, Qingdao, Qujing, Yueyang, Changsha, Dongguan, Foshan and Shenzhen. The number of protesters and the cities is more than that in the anti-Japanese demonstrations in 2005. In addition, the Chinese government in Beijing has been published an article in the “People’s Daily” (a newspaper of the Communist Party) in which the government threatened to impose economic sanctions against Japan in terms of the so-called nationalization of the Diaoyu Islands by the Japanese government.
The anti-Japanese protests have turned quickly into marauding vandals. According to reports, there had been violent anti-Japanese demonstrations in cities like Beijing, Qingdao, Xi’an, Chengdu and Shenzhen. Thousands of protesters attacked the Japanese embassy in Beijing. In Shenzhen, tens of thousands of angry people aggressed the building of the Party Committee of the City and the Japanese Consulate General in Guangzhou. In many cities, angry demonstrators smashed and burned many Japanese cars and shops as well as some of the Japanese factories. This has led to a significant loss of property and money. On September 17th, Toyota, Canon, Panasonic and other Japanese companies have shut down their factories in China temporarily, according to British media reports.
The anti-Japanese demonstrations in China had been so large and violent because the Chinese Communist government had supported and even organized these behind the scenes, according to the local observations. In general, such a free and deliberate demonstrations without tolerance or support of the government would not be possible. The intention of the Chinese government to tolerate or support the anti-Japanese demonstrations could be read in the speech of the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, at the regular press conference on September 17th. He said: “The Chinese government has explained its position to the Japanese side through various forms and the Chinese people have also expressed its strong indignation. The questions whether Japan can face China’s serious position and equitable demands of the Chinese people and whether Japan takes the right attitude and approach is crucial to the development of the situation. Hong Lei’s buoyage for the “strong indignation” and the “cry for justice” of the Chinese people proves to be the consent and support of the government for the anti-Japanese demonstrations of the “civil society”. According to reports of Chinese blogs, many government officials in civilian disguise who belong to the police or special police were directly involved in protest actions and have even instigated protests and riots. This means that the government has deliberately stimulated the violent protests to incitement of anti-Japanese sentiment of the people of China.
Diversion of public attention
Japan’s islands-buying action is a continuation of a series of provocations by the Japanese side in a short time: the Japanese government has named some islands of Diaoyu group; several Japanese deputies drove to the see area of Diaoyu Islands to “fish” and some people of Japanese right-wing groups climbed up the islands to get the so-called “solace of spirits” .
The main motivations or reasons of Japanese provocation concerning the problem of the Diaoyu Islands can be broadly summarized as follows: Firstly, the economic crisis. The Japanese economy has been severely impaired by the international financial crisis and the last year’s earthquake. The situation and prospects are poor and afflicted. Secondly, the political situation. With regard to the intense party conflict, the Japanese government is very unstable, which changes almost every year. The poor performance and the lower prestige of the ruling party cause the growing dissatisfaction of the Japanese population constantly. Third, the lack of resources. On the seabed and in territorial waters around the Diaoyu Islands, there are plenty of fish stocks and mineral resources. This is very tempting for a country like Japan, which is extremely poor in resources and energies. Fourth, the political strategy. Japan uses the weakness of the Chinese Communist Party that has been suffering from a bitter internal struggle and a political crisis for some time. Japan takes this opportunity to benefit from the fight for the Diaoyu Islands. To divert the attention of the public away from the government and the abovementioned crises, the politicians in Japan provoke the Chinese, cause the incidents on the Diaoyu Islands and fuel the nationalist sentiment of the people in Japan.
The over-reaction of the Chinese government on the purchase of the Diaoyu Islands by Japan and the incitement of anti-Japanese demonstrations by the Chinese government are closely related to the intensified power struggle within the Communist Party leadership and to the disagreement of opinion in the party on important issues. Due to the crash of the former Party chief of Chongqing, Bo Xilai, the leadership of the Communist Party of China whose situation becomes increasingly unstable is falling apart. With the recent “disappearance” of Vice President Xi Jinping, the internal restlessness of the party has become even stronger. Many analysts estimate that the massive anti-Japanese demonstrations could have connection with the political tension that hides behind the mysterious disappearance of Xi. To get rid of the crisis situation and to divert the public attention, the CCP uses the mass roared to find more approvals of people for its policy. The various party factions have been trying to bring their political voices and aspirations expressed by the demonstrations (e.g.: there were also both slogans for democratic constitutionalism and the catchphrases for the ultra-left Maoist). The provocations against China and the purchase action of Diaoyu Islands by the Japanese government have offered the CCP a good opportunity to push the dissatisfaction of the Chinese people and the bad political situation in China to the Japanese government. It is therefore apparent that the present anti-Japanese demonstrations in China are a result of the power struggle and the political tension within the party.
No one will be the winner
The Japanese provocation by buying the Diaoyu Islands and the other aggressive actions of Japan could distract the attention of Japanese citizens to the inefficiencies of government policy and to serious economic and ecological crises, but it do not to resolve the Sino-Japanese dispute over the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands and not to speak of sole possession of disputed islands and their waters. The worsening of territorial disputes by the Japanese government is not only useless for the solution of the Diaoyu Islands issue, but no real help for coping domestic, economic and environmental crises in Japan. It causes only the strong reactions from the Chinese government and the people of China and hurt the Japanese economy. Up to now, China is still the largest trading partner for Japan. Last year, bilateral trade between Japan and China grew by 14.3% to 345 billion U.S. dollars. The announced economic sanctions against Japan and the boycott of Japanese goods by the Chinese are bring the currently already poor economy of Japan a significant damage, which will certainly lead to even greater dissatisfaction with the Japanese government. By the provocations, the Japanese government can not annex the Diaoyu Islands, on the contrary, they will thereby suffer great economic defeat and lose the trust of people in Japan.
The stimulation of the Chinese anti-Japanese demonstrations has helped to divert public attention from the political crisis of the party leadership to the Japanese provocation. But this could also be a significant threat to the Communist Party and the Chinese regime. According to reports, there have been the slogans against corruption and for an end of the autocratic rule of the Communist Party and for the implementation of democratic constitutionalism in the anti-Japanese protests. In this way, the anti-Japanese demonstrations have tended to anti-government and anti-system protests. People in China use the anti-Japanese demonstrations to vent their dissatisfaction with the Communist Party and the government. All social classes and groups as well as all the wings of the CCP try to express their political ideas and aspirations by the protests.
The excitation of the people on the anti-Japanese demonstrations by the Chinese government points to several factors: the public attention has been diverted temporarily and partially; various interests and voices were expressed and thus there has been a kind of “political pluralism on the street” that has offered both the reformers and the conservatives an opportunity to express their views; the hardliners and army have gained more power in the political leadership; the rule of the CCP has become more unstable due to the lack of consistent ideologies and principles and the internal power struggle within the party.
The story of the Chinese Communists seems to be a result of the impasse and appropriateness. It is therefore crucial for the CCP whether they can overcome the political crisis and whether its ultimate control over the internal situation and citizens can be maintained. The Chinese Communist Party can no longer afford to lose in crisis. But it is not up to the increasingly critical situation of China.
Japan and China both are playing with fire because of their internal problems. The dangerous game is not the real purpose of both countries, but only the means of resolving internal crises. The victims, which the Fire game requires, are not only the ruling parties of Japan and China, but also the people of the two countries who suffer from the political, economic and environmental problems at the most. One who is playing with the fire will finally burn himself. Nobody can win this “war”.
Japan can not take possession of the Diaoyu Islands and their surrounding waters. China can not easily recapture the Islands by the violence. The dispute over the territorial sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands and the unlocking of resources around the territory of Diaoyu Islands can resolve only through negotiations between the two parties in a peaceful, rational and “win-win strategic” manner. Any unilateral action does not help to alleviate the situation. The proposal of the President of the Republic of China on Taiwan, Ma Ying-jeou, that China, Japan and Taiwan should jointly exploit and use the resources around the Diaoyu Islands without having to discuss the sovereign right of the islands could be considered a solution concept for the territorial issue.