Japanese PM Shinzo Abe BEIJING: The Chinese media kept a close eye on Tokyo as leaders from Asean countries gathered in Japan for the Japan-Asean Summit.
The three-day summit, which marks 40 years of ties between Japan and Asean, was seen as an opportunity for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to rally support against China.
In the latest episode of China-Japan feud, China has declared a new air defence identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea, which overlapped the territory claimed by South Korea and Japan.
As expected, Abe brought up the restriction on freedom of flight during the summit in an indirect reference to China’s air defence zone.
A Japanese official reportedly quoted him as telling the Asean leaders that “moves to unilaterally change the status quo, moves to put restrictions on the international aviation order, which is built on freedom of flight, are strong concerns”.
Under the aircraft identification rules which came into effect on Nov 23, all foreign aircraft intending to enter the zone have to report their flight plans to the Chinese authority and adhere to relevant instructions once they enter the zone.
The Chinese officials reserve the rights to adopt defensive emergency measures when aircraft fail to abide by the identification rules or obey the instructions.
State news agency Xinhua said Japan’s inclusion of air zone safety as a key security issue in the summit was a move to “plant a poisonous thorn”.
In a commentary, it said Abe’s frequent visits to nations in the Asean regional bloc in the past one year aimed at roping in the countries to rein in China.
It criticised Japan of using the East China Sea and South China Sea territorial issues to cause chaos and discord within Asean and to undermine the relationship between Asean and its partners.
Global Times was in the opinion that Japan would not succeed in its bid to get Asean to confront China.
“No matter how Tokyo creates waves, it will not gain a strategic advantage over China in South-East Asia.
“No countries will confront China for the sake of a declining Japan. Even the US, Japan’s patron, has to maintain relations with China while keeping its support to Japan,” it wrote.
During the summit, Japan has promised ¥2 trillion (RM62.7bil) of loans and grants to the region over five years. The pledge was interpreted as an attempt to increase its influence.
Tang Chunfeng, an expert on Japanese issues in the Research Institute of the Chinese Commerce Ministry, told the Chinese version of Global Times that Asean countries viewed Japan as the “God of Prosperity” who is willing to give them money.
“They are reluctant to offend Japan, but at the same time, they will not let China bear a grudge against them. They are only using Japan.”
Tsinghua University’s Institute of Modern International Relations deputy director Liu Yongjiang added that Asean would not take sides in this issue.
“Most Asean countries want the region to develop in a stable and peaceful environment, but Japan is constantly causing trouble.
“It will worry the Asean countries and even lead to dissatisfaction,” he said.
Commenting on Abe’s remarks to gather support from the Asean countries, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said China is aware of the relevant reports.
“We believe that countries should not target a third party or undermine the interests of the third party when developing ties with each other.
“They should instead make efforts to maintain regional peace and stability,” he said in a press conference on Friday, the transcript of which was available on the ministry’s website.
Don’t make waves on China’s ADIZ
If Tokyo truly seeks a peaceful and secure Asia-Pacific, then it is in its own interests to call off provocative moves over China’s establishment of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).
According to a recent news report, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is going to stage again its China-is-to-blame game at the summit of Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
It is also reported that Abe seeks to drag the ASEAN members into an agreement to counter Beijing in searching for “maritime and air security.”
While, for the record, it is believed that anyone with only half a brain knows that it is Japan who intentionally set the region on fire in the first place.
Following its provocative purchase of China’s Diaoyu Islands, Japan has wasted no time in trumpeting up the China-threat theory, and deliberately paints itself a victim of Beijing’s development, which is in fact invigorating regional and global economic recovery.
Instead of chilling down the flaring regional tension of its own making and ending the decades-long economic stagnation, the cunning Abe administration has labored to drive wedges between China and its regional partners and neighbors.
Many might wonder why Japan chooses to bury its relations with China half dead over building up mutually beneficial partnership with Beijing, which would mean greater business and trade opportunities?
While, the truth is, Mr. Abe and his government have done their own calculations, but only with a flaw that could backfire.
For decades, an economically-strong Japan has attempted strenuously to return itself to the ranks of a “normal country,” and become an influential power by shaking off military expansion yokes forged by the pacifist constitution in the wake of Japan’s defeat in the Second World War.
To that end, a number of Japanese administrations have been expanding its military powers, buying votes for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, and denying its history of aggression.
The smarty-pants right-wing Japanese politicians also believed that their ambitions for the comeback of their hegemonic role in the region would be categorically concealed as long as it can promote China’s growth a threat to the US national interests, and safety and security of other regional countries.
In fact, Tokyo has made so big a mistake that its inflammatory moves have already efficiently worried or enraged many of its neighbors. It seems to have forgotten that a constructive relationship with countries around it is the first step toward the final destination of a normal country.
If keep missing that point, Japan, which can never move out of Asia, can now kiss good-bye to its “big dreams.”
Against the backdrop of world peace and global integration, China welcomes closer ties between Japan and ASEAN, and Tokyo’s active participation in the regional integration process. However, Japan should never jeopardize China’s interests and relations with any other third party.
As for China’s establishment of ADIZ, it is just, reasonable and complies with international practices, and Beijing’s normal growth of national defense capacity does not pose a threat to any country.
Beijing always advocates resolving territorial and maritime disputes through dialogue, yet it will never allow any country to infringe upon its territorial sovereignty.
Therefore, if history is too embarrassed for politicians in Tokyo to face, they should at least face the facts on the ground and start to pursue its national agenda in a rational manner. – Xinhua
Abe targets China at Asean Summit
China is expected to top the agenda at this weekend’s summit between Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as Tokyo seeks a united front against China’s newly established Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) and aims to restore its influence in Southeast Asia.
The Japan-ASEAN summit in Tokyo, starting Friday, is held to commemorate Japan’s 40-year ties with the group.
It comes after China’s setting up of the ADIZ over the East China Sea and amid speculation that a similar zone would be imposed over the South China Sea, where several ASEAN countries are locked in territorial disputes with Beijing.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wasted no time in seeking support from ASEAN countries.
During a meeting with visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Thursday, Abe reiterated his criticism of China’s ADIZ. According to Japan’s Kyodo News, Najib expressed his understanding of Japan’s protest.
A draft statement for the leaders “stresses the importance of freedom of flight through airspace over the high seas, as recognized by international law,” Kyodo reported last week. The document reportedly does not single out China.
“Abe intends to defame China and pile up international censure on Beijing,” Gao Hong, a deputy director with the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Acedemy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times, but noted it is doomed to failure.
Citing the fact that even the US didn’t stand up to demand a revoke of the zone as Japan had wished, Gao said it is unimaginable that ASEAN, who have benefited from China’s good neighborly diplomacy, would act in accordance with Tokyo’s will.
Zhang Yunling, director of the Institute for International Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that while ASEAN is counting on Japan to counterbalance a rising China, they wouldn’t accept statements that explicitly criticize Beijing.
Responding to the Japan-ASEAN summit, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei on Thursday said that China hopes relevant countries will not target a third party and harm the interests of the third party.
The summit is the second of its kind between Japan and ASEAN. Zhang said, compared to the first summit held in 2003, this year’s summit also eyes competing with China over influence in Southeast Asia.
While Japan used to hold a big sway in the region, China has surpassed it in recent years and is ASEAN’s largest trade partner.
In a bid to restore Japan’s influence, Abe has visited all 10 ASEAN members since taking office a year ago, bringing a raft of business deals and aid to the region, while pushing for joint action to “maintain regional peace.”
Abe plans to announce at the summit this weekend that Japan will extend 320 billion yen ($3.1 billion) worth of aid to boost disaster prevention and cultural exchange with ASEAN, Kyodo reported on Thursday.
On the sidelines of the summit, Cambodia and Japan are expected to sign four deals including defense cooperation and Japanese assistance for Cambodian road and hospital development.
Reuters reported that Japan is also going to pledge a post-typhoon loan to the Philippines of some 10 billion yen.
Hu Lingyuan, a professor with the Center for Japanese Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times that Southeast Asia is only second to the US in Japan’s diplomatic priorities.
“In recent years, Japan has been using territorial disputes in the East China Sea and South China Sea to draw Vietnam and the Philippines to its side. It is also helping the US to lower China’s influence in Myanmar,” Hu said, noting the aim is to exert political pressure against China and reap economic benefits.
Although dwarfed by China in trade, Japan has more investment in and contributes more aid to ASEAN, Zhang said, noting “therefore ASEAN countries are willing to maintain close ties with Japan and use the rift between Tokyo and Beijing to maximize their own gains.”
Sidebar: Abe’s 10-country tour of 2013
January 16, Vietnam
The two countries reached economic and security agreements. Japan will provide $500 million in new loans.
January 17, Thailand
The two countries agreed to strengthen economic and security cooperation.
January 18, Indonesia
The two countries discussed economic and security issues, including the East China Sea.
May 24-26, Myanmar
Japan endorsed Myanmar’s reform program by writing off nearly $2 billion in debt and extending new aid worth $400 million.
July 25, Malaysia,
The two agreed to cooperate in high technology such as high-speed rail, water and waste treatment. They will also collaborate in finance and security in the Malacca Strait.
July 26, Singapore
Abe said he intends to promote “strategic diplomacy” in the region, particularly with an eye to strengthening ties and its economic partnership with ASEAN.
July 27, Philippines
Japan agreed to provide 10 patrol boats for its coast guard to help counter recent maritime advances by China.
October 9, Brunei
At the 16th ASEAN-Japan summit in Brunei, Abe called for security cooperation with Asia-Pacific nations “with which we share fundamental values.”
November 15, Cambodia
Japan offers support in investment, democratic reform and health, while promoting it will “proactively contribute to the regional peace and stability.”
November 16, Laos
The two decided to seek the launch of a security dialogue framework. Japan agreed to provide infrastructure and medical aid.
By Yang Jingjie – Global Times