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10/07/2010

The China-Japan Spat

More on China, and the tiff with Japan that started with the Chinese fishing vessel hitting two Japanese patrol boats, after which the Japanese held the captain before finally releasing him. The following are the views of both sides. You’ll also notice at the heart of the issue of the moment is ownership of some disputed islands, best exemplified by the different names for them used by each.

---

Editorials from Chinese government mouthpiece Global Times, Sept. 27 and Sept. 30.

Sept. 27

The facts are simple. A Chinese fishing boat was illegally seized near Diaoyu Islands and the captain was held for 17 days, during the time he missed the Mid-Autumn Festival when Chinese spend time with their families and his grandmother passed away.

A normal fishing practice by a Chinese boat became the center of a diplomatic row between China and Japan, and due to Japan’s recklessness, it quickly escalated into the worst dispute between the two countries in decades. The Japanese government has now refused China’s demand for an apology.

Japan has hoped to break the status quo regarding the disputed Diaoyu Islands by setting a precedent and thus taking an advantage. The new Kan administration underestimated the consequences of these actions and missed the opportunities to end the dispute earlier.

In some Western media outlets, China’s actions were accused of being tough and aggressive, and they attributed this to the rising power of China which is tilting the balance in the region.

Forget about protecting its citizens and standing up for territorial integrity, bottom lines that no country would compromise. China’s reasonable request was portrayed as increased pressure, and it was projected into China’s relationships with other neighboring countries.

In their coverage of China, some Western media outlets are seemingly dominated by a mindset that everything China does is wrong, and it can be seen as a threat. Whenever China runs into conflict with another country, the same moral judgment has always been applied to China.

China has been covered with a simple brush, blurring the complicated historical and contemporary issues in Asia.

The supposedly open and diversified Western media is showing surprising conformity facing a stronger China. On some issues, such as the Dalai Lama, some of the West’s media persistently refuses to see things from other perspectives.

China is far from being perfect. Chinese media is full of criticism of its own problems. But a simple fact is that China is making progress every day, and it is firmly realizing peaceful development.

Ostracism does not help in meeting the challenges we all face. Rationality and perspectives should be kept in reviewing Chinese affairs.

Sept. 30

The recent theory claiming that China is getting tough has reached its culmination after the crash in the waters near the Diaoyu Islands. Some Western media outlets quoted scholars criticizing China for its increasingly muscular diplomacy. Some warn that China is ‘isolating itself’ and pushing its Asian neighbors closer to the U.S.

Such criticism can mislead China’s neighbors and exert pressure on China’s diplomatic scholars and decision-makers. This is probably what some Westerners are seeking. They hope China is the elephant in the porcelain shop – it should stay still otherwise the porcelain will break.

However, this theory is no more than a new variation to the cliche “China threat” theory. Some Westerners say China is no longer the modest, low-key country they used to know and appears quite tough and arrogant. Nevertheless, it is these same people who once rebuked China as a “threat.” 

Territorial disputes are not rare in Asia. Most Asians understand that once a territorial dispute unfolds, relevant countries can easily engage in a tough contest.

Therefore, more of them believe that on issues of sovereignty and territorial integrity, China is actually being forced, not purposely seeking, to be tough.

Though Japan initiated the conflict, and the two countries are now taking a hard-line stance with each other, it is China who is being picked on by some Western countries.

As China’s power of discourse remains weak in the international arena, its argument and explanation appear weak at times.

Fortunately, this theory that China is getting tough will reap nothing in Asia, just as the old “China threat” accusation did not. Such theories bring no benefits to Asia, but merely a few annoying conflicts.

China should stay cool-headed and self-possessed, since bearing the pressure of external public opinion is inevitable during its rise in power.

It should continue to gradually adjust its diplomatic framework in these ever-changing international circumstances.

China should not mind the misunderstanding by some Westerners, but will not let such attitudes curb its national growth, either.

This is a completely new subject facing China. Throughout modern history, China sought independence and development, and was never as powerful as it is today.

Therefore, it is still exploring ways of transforming its growing strength into external influence.

It has to come up with a clear and more mature strategy to present itself and win over international support for its growth.

As long as China stays strategically sober-minded and continues to respect others, it can gain their understanding, and leave little space for the “China gets tough” theory.

---

Japan / The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 26

Japan lets pressure from foreign countries affect not only its economy and politics, but even its judiciary. The Japanese government on Sept. 25 released the captain of a Chinese fishing boat that was involved earlier in the month in collisions with Japan Coast Guard vessels off the disputed Senkaku Islands.

The unenviable role of speaking for the government on the case fell on the hapless Naha District Public Prosecutors Office. Its deputy chief told a news conference, “Considering the future of Japan-China relations, we decided it would not be appropriate to detain (the captain) any further for the continuation of the investigation.”

Beijing dispensed with all subtlety in banning exports of rare earth metals to Japan. Rare earth elements are dubbed “industry’s vitamins” because, even though only minute quantities of these substances are needed, high-tech products such as hybrid cars and digital cameras rely on them. China has a practical monopoly on global rare earth supply. Beijing was trying to undermine Japan’s high-tech industry.

The Chinese also discouraged people from traveling to Japan and buying Japanese goods. In Hebei province, Chinese authorities detained four Japanese construction company employees for allegedly taking videos of a military facility. The bitter row between Beijing and Tokyo was beginning to affect the Japanese economy and Japanese citizens.

Meantime, Chinese tourists are certainly not being coerced into buying electric rice cookers in Tokyo’s Akihabara district and posing happily for photos with Mount Fuji in the background. The tourists buy the cookers because these gadgets make perfect rice, and they climb Mount Fuji because they know they will enjoy spectacular views.

The economy is driven by pragmatism. Yet, Beijing has no qualms in blackmailing Tokyo by denying it access to needed natural resources and a market of 1.3 billion people.

The matter is made worse by the fact that the rule of law is not respected in China, which is under single-party authoritarian rule. Conceding too readily to Beijing’s demands will only encourage further arrogance. I am made acutely conscious of the risk of relying heavily on the Chinese economy and putting our country’s fate in China’s hands. China, after all, is only a “superpower-in-training” that is still unfamiliar with what is common sense to the rest of the mature world.

Beijing wasted no time in demanding an apology and compensation from Tokyo. This is not right, but getting angry won’t do us any good. While sympathizing with coast guard personnel who risk their lives to protect Japanese waters, we also need to take a good, hard look at the government’s less than exemplary diplomacy.

The Chinese fishing boat captain flashed the V sign upon his arrival in China. But we must keep cool and think how our country should manage its relations with this difficult to get along with “big dragon” that is China.

The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 1

The Lower House Budget Committee on Thursday deliberated the recent collision between a Chinese trawler and Japan Coast Guard patrol vessels near the Senkaku Islands.

The session produced no in-depth debate on the extremely pressing issue of how to rebuild Japan’s diplomacy toward China, but instead spent much of the time on a futile tussle over whether the government exerted political pressure to release the Chinese captain of the trawler.

Much of the blame falls on Prime Minister Naoto Kan and other government leaders, who have insisted that it was an independent decision by prosecutors.

There is no doubt the captain was released based on a highly political judgment.

As Akihisa Nagashima, a Lower House member of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, pointed out, diplomacy is beyond the authority of prosecutors. Still, Kan and his ministers repeatedly said they simply acknowledged the prosecutors’ decision.

These political leaders deserve to be criticized for abandoning their mission and responsibilities.

To be fair, Kan has said he will take responsibility as prime minister for all actions taken by Japanese authorities, including diplomatic ones.

But he will not be able to satisfy the public unless he accepts full responsibility for Japan’s response to the incident, instead of speaking in general terms.

Why is Kan so adamant in refusing to acknowledge the government’s role in the decisions? There are two plausible reasons.

First, he probably fears that the government would have to make a political decision every time a similar incident occurs, leading to more confusion

Secondly, he may be concerned about criticism that the government violated the principle of separation of powers by intervening in the prosecutors’ investigation.

This is certainly a tricky issue. But this kind of chicanery and sidestepping creates many problems – and undermines public confidence in politics.

Regarding the first concerns, it is the role of politics to create an environment that prevents a recurrence of the trawler incident.

As for the second concern, we suspect that behind the government’s inflexible stance is the memory of a 1950s bribery scandal involving the shipping and shipbuilding industries. The justice minister at that time used his authority to bar prosecutors from arresting a ruling party kingpin, which led to the fall of the Cabinet.

The law allows the justice minister to exercise command over law enforcement authorities in individual cases only through the prosecutor-general.

This rule was established to rein in self-righteous decisions by prosecutors and put them under democratic control while ensuring that criminal investigations would not be influenced by the interests or agendas of political parties.

It is unacceptable to exercise command for unsavory purposes, such as preventing prosecution of a case to keep the government afloat. But the latest case involved the political question of how to handle relations with a neighboring country.

To seek the judgment of the people, who have sovereign power, the Cabinet should admit that it exercised command over the prosecutors and explain what it told them.

In that manner, Japan can demonstrate the strength and depth of a democracy that an authoritarian system does not have.

From this point of view, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku raised an important issue, albeit belatedly, when he called for serious debate on the conditions when command can be exercised over prosecutors. He said there has been little debate and few precedents concerning the relationship between politicians and prosecutors.

Diplomacy poses tough decisions regardless of which political party is in power.

While the Cabinet’s handling of the latest incident may be open to criticism, the opposition parties, in this new age of power transfers, should also seriously consider how such incidents should be dealt with.

---

I am doing a ton of travel over the next six weeks and Hot Spots will return sometime in mid-November. [It’s about spending time on more pressing issues.]

Brian Trumbore


AddThis Feed Button

 

-10/07/2010-      
Web Epoch NJ Web Design  |  (c) Copyright 2016 StocksandNews.com, LLC.

Hot Spots

10/07/2010

The China-Japan Spat

More on China, and the tiff with Japan that started with the Chinese fishing vessel hitting two Japanese patrol boats, after which the Japanese held the captain before finally releasing him. The following are the views of both sides. You’ll also notice at the heart of the issue of the moment is ownership of some disputed islands, best exemplified by the different names for them used by each.

---

Editorials from Chinese government mouthpiece Global Times, Sept. 27 and Sept. 30.

Sept. 27

The facts are simple. A Chinese fishing boat was illegally seized near Diaoyu Islands and the captain was held for 17 days, during the time he missed the Mid-Autumn Festival when Chinese spend time with their families and his grandmother passed away.

A normal fishing practice by a Chinese boat became the center of a diplomatic row between China and Japan, and due to Japan’s recklessness, it quickly escalated into the worst dispute between the two countries in decades. The Japanese government has now refused China’s demand for an apology.

Japan has hoped to break the status quo regarding the disputed Diaoyu Islands by setting a precedent and thus taking an advantage. The new Kan administration underestimated the consequences of these actions and missed the opportunities to end the dispute earlier.

In some Western media outlets, China’s actions were accused of being tough and aggressive, and they attributed this to the rising power of China which is tilting the balance in the region.

Forget about protecting its citizens and standing up for territorial integrity, bottom lines that no country would compromise. China’s reasonable request was portrayed as increased pressure, and it was projected into China’s relationships with other neighboring countries.

In their coverage of China, some Western media outlets are seemingly dominated by a mindset that everything China does is wrong, and it can be seen as a threat. Whenever China runs into conflict with another country, the same moral judgment has always been applied to China.

China has been covered with a simple brush, blurring the complicated historical and contemporary issues in Asia.

The supposedly open and diversified Western media is showing surprising conformity facing a stronger China. On some issues, such as the Dalai Lama, some of the West’s media persistently refuses to see things from other perspectives.

China is far from being perfect. Chinese media is full of criticism of its own problems. But a simple fact is that China is making progress every day, and it is firmly realizing peaceful development.

Ostracism does not help in meeting the challenges we all face. Rationality and perspectives should be kept in reviewing Chinese affairs.

Sept. 30

The recent theory claiming that China is getting tough has reached its culmination after the crash in the waters near the Diaoyu Islands. Some Western media outlets quoted scholars criticizing China for its increasingly muscular diplomacy. Some warn that China is ‘isolating itself’ and pushing its Asian neighbors closer to the U.S.

Such criticism can mislead China’s neighbors and exert pressure on China’s diplomatic scholars and decision-makers. This is probably what some Westerners are seeking. They hope China is the elephant in the porcelain shop – it should stay still otherwise the porcelain will break.

However, this theory is no more than a new variation to the cliche “China threat” theory. Some Westerners say China is no longer the modest, low-key country they used to know and appears quite tough and arrogant. Nevertheless, it is these same people who once rebuked China as a “threat.” 

Territorial disputes are not rare in Asia. Most Asians understand that once a territorial dispute unfolds, relevant countries can easily engage in a tough contest.

Therefore, more of them believe that on issues of sovereignty and territorial integrity, China is actually being forced, not purposely seeking, to be tough.

Though Japan initiated the conflict, and the two countries are now taking a hard-line stance with each other, it is China who is being picked on by some Western countries.

As China’s power of discourse remains weak in the international arena, its argument and explanation appear weak at times.

Fortunately, this theory that China is getting tough will reap nothing in Asia, just as the old “China threat” accusation did not. Such theories bring no benefits to Asia, but merely a few annoying conflicts.

China should stay cool-headed and self-possessed, since bearing the pressure of external public opinion is inevitable during its rise in power.

It should continue to gradually adjust its diplomatic framework in these ever-changing international circumstances.

China should not mind the misunderstanding by some Westerners, but will not let such attitudes curb its national growth, either.

This is a completely new subject facing China. Throughout modern history, China sought independence and development, and was never as powerful as it is today.

Therefore, it is still exploring ways of transforming its growing strength into external influence.

It has to come up with a clear and more mature strategy to present itself and win over international support for its growth.

As long as China stays strategically sober-minded and continues to respect others, it can gain their understanding, and leave little space for the “China gets tough” theory.

---

Japan / The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 26

Japan lets pressure from foreign countries affect not only its economy and politics, but even its judiciary. The Japanese government on Sept. 25 released the captain of a Chinese fishing boat that was involved earlier in the month in collisions with Japan Coast Guard vessels off the disputed Senkaku Islands.

The unenviable role of speaking for the government on the case fell on the hapless Naha District Public Prosecutors Office. Its deputy chief told a news conference, “Considering the future of Japan-China relations, we decided it would not be appropriate to detain (the captain) any further for the continuation of the investigation.”

Beijing dispensed with all subtlety in banning exports of rare earth metals to Japan. Rare earth elements are dubbed “industry’s vitamins” because, even though only minute quantities of these substances are needed, high-tech products such as hybrid cars and digital cameras rely on them. China has a practical monopoly on global rare earth supply. Beijing was trying to undermine Japan’s high-tech industry.

The Chinese also discouraged people from traveling to Japan and buying Japanese goods. In Hebei province, Chinese authorities detained four Japanese construction company employees for allegedly taking videos of a military facility. The bitter row between Beijing and Tokyo was beginning to affect the Japanese economy and Japanese citizens.

Meantime, Chinese tourists are certainly not being coerced into buying electric rice cookers in Tokyo’s Akihabara district and posing happily for photos with Mount Fuji in the background. The tourists buy the cookers because these gadgets make perfect rice, and they climb Mount Fuji because they know they will enjoy spectacular views.

The economy is driven by pragmatism. Yet, Beijing has no qualms in blackmailing Tokyo by denying it access to needed natural resources and a market of 1.3 billion people.

The matter is made worse by the fact that the rule of law is not respected in China, which is under single-party authoritarian rule. Conceding too readily to Beijing’s demands will only encourage further arrogance. I am made acutely conscious of the risk of relying heavily on the Chinese economy and putting our country’s fate in China’s hands. China, after all, is only a “superpower-in-training” that is still unfamiliar with what is common sense to the rest of the mature world.

Beijing wasted no time in demanding an apology and compensation from Tokyo. This is not right, but getting angry won’t do us any good. While sympathizing with coast guard personnel who risk their lives to protect Japanese waters, we also need to take a good, hard look at the government’s less than exemplary diplomacy.

The Chinese fishing boat captain flashed the V sign upon his arrival in China. But we must keep cool and think how our country should manage its relations with this difficult to get along with “big dragon” that is China.

The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 1

The Lower House Budget Committee on Thursday deliberated the recent collision between a Chinese trawler and Japan Coast Guard patrol vessels near the Senkaku Islands.

The session produced no in-depth debate on the extremely pressing issue of how to rebuild Japan’s diplomacy toward China, but instead spent much of the time on a futile tussle over whether the government exerted political pressure to release the Chinese captain of the trawler.

Much of the blame falls on Prime Minister Naoto Kan and other government leaders, who have insisted that it was an independent decision by prosecutors.

There is no doubt the captain was released based on a highly political judgment.

As Akihisa Nagashima, a Lower House member of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, pointed out, diplomacy is beyond the authority of prosecutors. Still, Kan and his ministers repeatedly said they simply acknowledged the prosecutors’ decision.

These political leaders deserve to be criticized for abandoning their mission and responsibilities.

To be fair, Kan has said he will take responsibility as prime minister for all actions taken by Japanese authorities, including diplomatic ones.

But he will not be able to satisfy the public unless he accepts full responsibility for Japan’s response to the incident, instead of speaking in general terms.

Why is Kan so adamant in refusing to acknowledge the government’s role in the decisions? There are two plausible reasons.

First, he probably fears that the government would have to make a political decision every time a similar incident occurs, leading to more confusion

Secondly, he may be concerned about criticism that the government violated the principle of separation of powers by intervening in the prosecutors’ investigation.

This is certainly a tricky issue. But this kind of chicanery and sidestepping creates many problems – and undermines public confidence in politics.

Regarding the first concerns, it is the role of politics to create an environment that prevents a recurrence of the trawler incident.

As for the second concern, we suspect that behind the government’s inflexible stance is the memory of a 1950s bribery scandal involving the shipping and shipbuilding industries. The justice minister at that time used his authority to bar prosecutors from arresting a ruling party kingpin, which led to the fall of the Cabinet.

The law allows the justice minister to exercise command over law enforcement authorities in individual cases only through the prosecutor-general.

This rule was established to rein in self-righteous decisions by prosecutors and put them under democratic control while ensuring that criminal investigations would not be influenced by the interests or agendas of political parties.

It is unacceptable to exercise command for unsavory purposes, such as preventing prosecution of a case to keep the government afloat. But the latest case involved the political question of how to handle relations with a neighboring country.

To seek the judgment of the people, who have sovereign power, the Cabinet should admit that it exercised command over the prosecutors and explain what it told them.

In that manner, Japan can demonstrate the strength and depth of a democracy that an authoritarian system does not have.

From this point of view, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku raised an important issue, albeit belatedly, when he called for serious debate on the conditions when command can be exercised over prosecutors. He said there has been little debate and few precedents concerning the relationship between politicians and prosecutors.

Diplomacy poses tough decisions regardless of which political party is in power.

While the Cabinet’s handling of the latest incident may be open to criticism, the opposition parties, in this new age of power transfers, should also seriously consider how such incidents should be dealt with.

---

I am doing a ton of travel over the next six weeks and Hot Spots will return sometime in mid-November. [It’s about spending time on more pressing issues.]

Brian Trumbore