I have not been blogging for a while. In the meantime, I have recently travelled to China and Singapore for which I will be writing my travel accounts soon.
The Diayudai island issue is a major bone of contention between China and Japan. During my travel I could sense the anger emanating from most ordinary Chinese against Japan.
My understanding of the issue is that Japan’s action to buy the disputed island led to the recent bitter dispute. Previously there was a tacit understanding or status quo on island, but this has changed in the last year or so. In fact President Hu personally warned Prime Minister Noda against buying the island as if the island truly belongs to Japan.
I have little doubt that China has much stronger claim to the island, as China can provide evidence it owns the island prior to 1895. But after defeat of Qing government in the Sino-Japan war of 1895, Japan took over Taiwan and thus took possession of the island that lies some 100 km north of Taiwan island. After the WWII, Japan was obliged to relinquish all territory it took away from China, and thus the island should have been returned as Chinese territory. However, it became US military territory, which later handed it over to Japan. Japan has been claiming the island as its own sovereign territory and claimed that the island was originally uninhabited, and was first discovered and claimed by a Japanese man. From the Chinese point of view, the Japanese claim is invalid, likening it to a thief that possesses stolen property which actually belongs to China.
In the mind of many Chinese people, Japan has done little to renounce the aggression and brutality in war against Chinese people, and the same right wing hawks or factions in ruling elites, though of different generations, are making their comeback into the political arena. The incompetence of Prime Minister Noda in foreign policy and in facing Japanese domestic political pressure exacerbates the situation.
The Western media as usual would side with the Japanese in dispute with China, depicting Japan as a peaceful democracy, while portraying China as the aggressive bully. Some of the Western reporters would even claim the anti-Japanese feelings have been fanned by the government. I think such claim is just over the top and goes blindly against common observations. Most of the Western reporters are just propagandists and ideologues that are blinded by their own prejudices. The Chinese saying实事求是or seeking truth from facts has never been their strong points.
Sales of the US and European cars in the world’s biggest automobile market. i.e. China have risen dramatically, while Japanese cars manufacturers reported 40% drop in sales. It seems that many Chinese consumers are boycotting Japanese products. Japan’s economy is already wobbly, and seems to become even worse soon if the dispute stayed longer. While Japan is truly at the loosing end economically, the US and the EU are gaining much from the dispute. In some ways, one can view the source of the dispute as being engineered by US. The US return to Asia policy has emboldened the Japanese right wing elites into thinking that US will always side with Japan and protect Japan in any Sino-Japan disputes. In meanwhile US will gain more from selling expensive weapons to its allies in Asia.
China must be patience, and perhaps in five to ten years ( I think by 2020), China would have little problem in sweeping aside Japan and even US from that part of the world by then. Patience is a virtue IMHO in this matter. In the meanwhile, for the sake of Japan’s future, there is urgent need to seek a capable and wise leader who can view matters from longer term perspective. Personally, I have no problem with individual Japanese. I briefly visited Japan earlier this year, and did find it enjoyable and have no problem dealing with the Japanese. I also do not wish to see any war between China and Japan, and truly hope that the people of East Asian can truly be at peace and comfortable with each other.