Thursday, July 31, 2014

Is China a Carbon Copy of the Imperial Japan?

I was startled to hear Chinese President Xi Jingping’s controversial speech of “Asia for Asians” at CICA (Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia) this May (Chinapresident speaks out on security ties in Asia “; BBC News; 21 May 2014). The underlying idea of this speech overlaps the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere, insisted by wartime Japan. In view of regional concerns with Chinese maritime expansionism and growing self-assertiveness, Xi’s “Leave Asia for Asians” speech is understood negatively in the global community. There are so many points in common between wartime and current Asian powers. Let me talk of them.

In terms of geopolitics, both wartime Japan and current China are anti-West. Wartime Japan tried to expel European and American influence from Asia in the name of decolonization and liberation from White dominance. However, the Imperial Japan, itself was a colonial empire, and Asians found no fundamental differences between White sahibs and a Yellow sahib. Today, China also explores to establish their sphere of influence in Asia by ousting US presence in the region.

More importantly, both wartime Japan and present day China are autocracies to defy liberal world order, and exploring to found an axis against democratic nations. Japan allied with fascist Germany and Italy, while China plots to make the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS, and CICA raise voices against Western democracies. Japan’s wartime axis with Germany and Italy was not well coordinated for joint strategy and operations, and China has not made successful axis to stand against the United States and its democratic allies. Nor do both Asian powers advocate universally acceptable values for global public interest.

It is quite noteworthy that Asians do not welcome the rise or advance of both anti-West autocracies. The fall of Singapore may have impressed Asian people, but when the Allied forces launched counter offense under Douglas MacArthur and Lord Louis Mountbatten, they did not fight side by side with Japanese troops to bounce back white sahibs. Likewise, China’s “Asia for Asians” initiative causes high alert among Asian neighbors, particularly those having territorial clashes over the East China and the South China seas. Also, as Asia is politically and culturally diversified, none of regional organizations will be platforms for Chinese predominance (Don'tbet on China's 'Asia for Asians only' vision yet”; Strait Times; 30 May 2014). Today, white ruled colonial empires have gone, and Asian nations shall not be interested in a Chinese-led Asia to oust American influence.

Rather than well being of Asian nations, both autocracies are expanding southwards, in quest of natural resource. Wartime Japan wanted oil, tin, rubber, and other mineral and plantation products in South East Asia. Today, it is widely understood that China’s territorial claims in the East China Sea and the South China Sea are based on its quest for oil and gas in those waters. Their calls for Asian unity to expel the West are strongly associated with their appetite for natural resource.

Quite ironically, Chinese fishery boats dash themselves to attack Coast Guard ships of their maritime neighbors to claim Chinese territorial rights on south sea islands. Attacks like these are pre-modern like Kamikaze raids to US warships by the Imperial Japan. Is China really a carbon copy of wartime Japan? Interestingly, Former US Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank Curtis Chin also compares current Chin to wartime Japan (“Xi Jinping's'Asia for Asians' mantra evokes imperial Japan”; South China Morning Post; 14 July2014).

In view of Asian alert to China’s aggressive behavior, I have to cast doubt whether China has any credential to blame Japan on wartime history. In my eyes, it is China that acts unprecedentedly similar ways to those of the Imperial Japan. China may want to behave as a winner of World War II continually, but remember the vital point. It is not the Japanese public that lost the war, but wartime fascism. If China really were to act as a winner of the war, bear this in mind!

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