Almost everyday there are press announcements from the Japanese side, accusing China as being the aggressor in the dispute. Just a few days ago, Japan claim that a Chinese naval frigate locked on a missile on apparently helpless Japanese coast guard vessel. However, one need to realise that the Japanese government are adept in using press statements to influence world opinion against China. Furthermore, it has the Western media on its side to provide sympathetic coverage of its side of the story.
In actual fact, Japan is the one that started to play the dangerous game, in provoking China by reckless act of ‘buying’ the contested island despite numerous warnings from Chinese side. Mind you, Japan also did not seem to mind escalating the dispute when it used jet fighters to threaten China maritime survey aircraft or having its spy planes and naval crafts pester China naval fleets that were travelling towards the Western Pacific ocean for training exercise.
Will there be war between China and Japan over Diaoyu island? I still think that while it is not impossible, the probability is rather small. There are lots of hostile noises generated by both sides, no doubt. But, war is something that both sides do not really want and there is still a huge gap to cross. First, China is no longer weak, like the Qing dynasty of the late 19th or early 20th century. Thus China cannot be subdued by act of war as Japan does not have the military muscle to do that. Even with the help of its ally, the US, it will be quite an impossible war to win, and most important is that no one win such a war. In fact, outright war against China is not in the interest of US, given that much of its wealthy capitalist elites that control the politicians and Obama for that matter, have their fortunes tied closely to China. For example, almost all Apple, Dell and HP products are manufactured or assembled in China, and their supermarkets are mostly stocked with China made products.
Time is obviously on the Chinese side as it becomes stronger economically and militarily by the day. Even then, I do not see war as imminent. The Chinese are adept at the ‘Art of War’, and thus China is not bent on destroying its enemy with superior fire power given that there is little benefits that can be gained from that strategy in our increasingly interlinked world. In the future when the military and economic power gap is truly huge, Japan will have no choice but to accept the inevitable situation. Mind you, this will be accompanied by mindset changes to concept of Japanese racial superiority that was imbued into them when Japan adopted certain parts of Western civilization to become an aggressive military power back in the late 19 century.
Following is a recent article from The Global Times.
Japan on Tuesday lodged a protest against China, claiming Chinese military frigates locked their fire-control radar on to a Japanese navy vessel as well as a helicopter.
Details of the situation remain unclear. The Japanese defense military reportedly said that the Japanese vessel sounded a combat alert after being locked on to and the situation reached quite a dangerous point. It prompted Japanese media to criticize China’s “offensive” and “provocative” act on the high seas.
China is not skilled when it comes to publicity efforts, thus far it has never taken the initiative in publicizing information on Sino-Japanese disputes. The first commentaries on Sino-Japanese conflicts have been always from the Japanese side.
But if Japan was a reasonable nation, the Diaoyu Islands dispute wouldn’t have become as tense as it is now.
Now, we only have Japan’s one-sided arguments over the radar incident. Since Japan often seizes opportunities to exaggerate these kinds of incidents to sway public opinion, the legitimacy of Japan’s arguments has come under question.
No matter how skilled Japan is in making use of public opinion, it’s Japan itself that is driving the Diaoyu dispute in the direction of a possible military clash. Japan has conducted several military exercises aimed at “safeguarding Diaoyu,” and it’s Japan’s fighter jets that first appeared in the air above the disputed islands to disperse Chinese civilian aircraft.
It was also Japan that first indicated that it might use tracer bullets against Chinese aircraft, and Japan’s fighter jets that were frequently scrambled to deal with Chinese aircraft that had allegedly entered into its air defense identification zone. Because of Japan, mutual military trust in the East China Sea has been destroyed.
The news disclosed by Japan on Tuesday hasn’t stirred up Chinese society. Many have mentally prepared themselves for the first shots between China and Japan, but fewer and fewer people still hold out hope for a peaceful solution to the escalating dispute.
Chinese people thought in the past war was unlikely, but now, we often hear extreme pledges from Japan like “Protecting Diaoyu at any cost” and “Negotiations are unacceptable” via media and the Internet, and we are also well informed of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces’ full preparations for a war. The information flow between China and Japan is increasingly narrowing the room for peaceful negotiation.
Japan’s attempts to highlight this radar incident only sound an alert between the Chinese and Japanese public, telling them that war is around the corner.
If the Abe administration’s real intention is to implant the idea of an imminent war in the minds of the public, China also must send the same message to the Chinese public. If this is not the case, Japan should try to dispel the Chinese public’s doubts and remove the harmful side-effects of its actions.