by John Galt
July 18, 2016 21:00 ET
Normally I would not give much credence to an editorial in the People’s Daily from China, however since this is the official public organ of the Chinese Communist Party it is crucial to understand the war drums that are beginning to pound louder by the minute after the decision by the Hague on China’s interests in the East and South China Sea. First the editorial from the People’s Daily this morning which indicates who is to blame for the controversy and China’s beliefs as to how it may be resolved:
BEIJING, July 18 — Japan’s meddling in the South China Sea is simply a tactic of distraction, hoping to tie China down so that its island disputes with Beijing in the East China Sea will be downplayed, experts attending the World Peace Forum (WPF) said here on Saturday.
Tokyo’s tricks will not pay off, said the experts, adding that the only way for Japan to improve its relations with China starts with making no new troubles.
Speaking at a WPF panel session, Gao Hong, deputy director of the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said Japan is making a serious mistake.
He said the South China Sea and the East China Sea are closely related in a way that when tensions in South China Sea heat up, the East China Sea issue will be more arrestive.
“I personally believe that the easing of tensions in the South China Sea would not reduce the tensions in the East China Sea,” he added.
Citing historical and military reasons, Gao also believed that neither side wants to compromise when it comes to sovereignty, thus both are facing a security dilemma.
Also at the panel, Bonji Ohara, an analyst in the National Defense Academy of Japan, said the talk of “territorial disputes will surely bring Japan and China back to war” is only being instigated by a handful of Japan’s right-wing forces, while the general public are more concerned about their own lives, instead of the disputes in the South China Sea.
Ohara urged both sides to learn more about each other and try their best to remove misunderstandings, and especially, to enhance communication over the East China Sea issue.
“The East China Sea issue is not a new topic, but it still triggers small scrambles,” he said. “So we must set up the Maritime and Air Communication Mechanism.”
Nobuhiro Aizawa, an associate professor at Kyushu University who echoed Ohara’s remarks, also urged the two countries to clear the air and to better work with each other.
“Both Japan and China need to cooperate with other countries to develop their own economies. Cooperation is a driving force behind economic development,” he said.
“So confrontations or tensions between the two would only bring failed cooperation and affect the economy,” he said.
Offering his opinion on how to improve China-Japan relations, Chen Jian, a former Chinese ambassador to Tokyo, said Japan should not create new differences between the two sides.
“We have already had differences over the Diaoyu Islands, so the South China Sea issue should not become a new flashpoint,” he said.
On Friday in a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abeon the sidelines of the ongoing 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit in Ulan Bator, Chinese Premier Li Keqiangtold his Japanese counterpart that Japan should “exercise caution in its own words and deeds, and stop hyping up and interfering in the South China Sea issue.
The Chinese premier called on both sides to step up exchanges on the East China Sea issue via dialogue and consultation based on the four-point principled agreement they reached in November 2014, so as to stave off misinterpretation and miscalculation.
This editorial is a not so subtle warning that Japan had best drop this issue. The Chinese Communist Party followed up with a similar editorial on their China Daily website, also part of the People’s Daily network, the portal for American and other English speaking audiences today also:
Four of the five members of the illegal arbitral tribunal on the South China Sea case were appointed by Shunji Yanai, former president of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Rightist, hawkish, close to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, pro-US, unfriendly to China … these are tags often associated with Yanai. One member was designated by the Philippines.
Yanai entered the Japanese Foreign Ministry after graduation, following in his father’s steps. The younger Yanai became Japanese ambassador to the United States in 1999.
“He is … bold and some times controversial, and some how gets away with things that would most likely cost someone else his career,” said Fumiko Halloran in his review of Yanai’s book, Rapid Changes in Diplomacy.
Yanai had to leave the Foreign Ministry along with three other officials amid a series of embezzlement scandals within the ministry.
According to Japanese newspaper Nikkei, when Yanai was director-general of the Treaties Bureau of the Foreign Ministry during the 1990-91 Gulf War, he helped push through parliament an act allowing Japan to send Self-Defense Forces abroad for UN peacekeeping operations. In 1992, Japan dispatched some 600 soldiers and 75 police officers to Cambodia for peace-keeping operations.
In 2007, Yanai served as chairman of a panel to advise Abe on revising the Constitution to allow military actions overseas. After Abe took office again in 2012, it was also Yanai who in 2014 presented a report advocating lifting the ban. In 2015, Japan enacted laws dropping the ban.
In 2011, Yanai became the first Japanese to be president of ITLOS. After the Philippines unilaterally initiated the case against China in 2013, Yanai created a five-member tribunal.
In August 2013, when he was still choosing arbitrators, Yanai stressed on an NHK TV program that Japan’s islands are “under threat” and that Japan has “enemies” and needs to improve its military strength for safeguarding security.
“From the result of the arbitration, people can see that it was conducted by a bunch of people who knew very little about the South China Sea issues,” said Motofumi Asai, a former official of the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
Japanese political analyst Jiro Honzawa said: “The Philippines was abetted by the US and Japan to apply for arbitration, because the latter two want to contain China.”
Every indication militarily and from a perspective of the Communist Chinese propaganda machine over the last two years, culminating in this decision in the Hague, puts the world on a course closer to a major naval conflict in the Western Pacific. If the Chinese government should decide to occupy the islands with military force and threaten to attack any forces which oppose this action, the United States nor Japan are prepared for a major conventional conflict of any duration with the Chinese government.
More importantly, the American and Japanese economies are not even close to prepared for a violent change in the global system due to a military confrontation.