China Thursday refuted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent appeal for more transparency in China’s military budget, stating that it is Japan that should increase transparency and explain its own military buildup.
“China’s defense policy is transparent and has been published in its white papers and on other occasions,” foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang on Thursday told a regular press briefing in response to Abe’s speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a day earlier.
“We must … restrain military expansion in Asia, which could otherwise go unchecked,” Abe told the annual meeting of global business and political leaders, following his government’s custom of not naming China in such references.
In response, Qin urged Japan to explain to Asia and the international community the real purpose of amending its pacifist constitution, which has been in existence since 1947. The Abe government has been trying to revise it so as to greenlight the expansion of Japan’s military forces.
In December, Abe’s cabinet approved a critical defense policy package comprising new defense program guidelines, a five-year defense buildup plan and the national security strategy. Japan vowed to seek more “proactive” roles for its military forces abroad and to set new guidelines on arms exports, signaling a major shift from its previous restrictive stance.
“Abe tends to depict China as a threat at whatever occasion he attends. His purpose is to worsen Sino-Japan relations and damage China’s image in the international community, as well as tear apart economic development in the Asia-Pacific region,” Lü Yaodong, a research fellow of Japanese politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.
During the Davos speech, Abe also called for dispute resolution through “dialogue and the rule of law, and not through force and coercion.”
Qin said that Japan cannot on one hand refuse to admit mistakes and continue to denigrate China, and on the other hand indulge in empty rhetoric to advocate dialogue, as it is the Japanese leader that is shutting the door to dialogue.
Liu Jiangyong, a vice director of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University, said it is inappropriate for Abe to cast blame for political issues at an economic forum.
“Abe is trying to distract people’s attention by claiming it is others’ fault,” Liu told the Global Times.
Abe also defended his visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, saying that the shrine honors the dead of World War I and the 1868 Meiji war, not just war criminals or others who died in World War II.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who is currently attending the international conference on Syria in Montreux, Switzerland, described Abe’s argument as futile, which only serves to expose Abe’s erroneous perception of history.
Even today, the Yasukuni Shrine still represents the notion that the aggression of Japan in World War II was “just,” the Pacific War Japan launched was “self-defense” and the trial at the Far East International Military Tribunal was “illegitimate,” as well as honoring 14 Class-A war criminals, Wang noted.
South Korea Thursday also said that it is a complete contradiction to talk about forging friendly ties while continuing visits to the shrine.
Liu said Abe is unlikely to change his stance even though he sensed the pressure and isolation from the international community.
“His explanation reveals that he doesn’t think he’s wrong and he would do it again,” Liu said.
Tensions between China and Japan have been rising since Tokyo announced in September 2012 the “nationalization” of the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.
Chinese air force planes have been regularly patrolling the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), which covers the Diaoyu Islands, air force spokesman Shen Jinke said Thursday.
On a recent patrol, multiple Chinese aircraft were sent to “monitor, identify, track and warn” multiple foreign military planes that had entered the ADIZ, established two months ago, Shen added.
By Zhang Yiwei Global Times
China, Japan open German front in diplomatic war
BEIJING (Jan 25, 2014): One hundred years after the outbreak of World War I, China and Japan are ripping selected pages from Germany’s history — including the Nazi period — as they seek to demonise each other in their modern-day diplomatic battles.
Beijing’s state-controlled media have compared Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Adolf Hitler, using shrill rhetoric that analysts say exploits Tokyo’s mixed messages about its past aggression in China and elsewhere.
At the same time, they urge him to emulate Germany’s post-war contrition for the evils of Nazism.
Abe, for his part, has raised the spectre of 1914, saying at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland that relations between Japan and China resemble those of Britain and Germany as they stumbled towards war.
Tokyo and Beijing are locked in an increasingly acrimonious row over small, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea that Japan controls but China regards as its territory, with their militaries warily eyeing each other.
Commentators have likened China, a rising power, to Germany in the early 20th century and portrayed the islands as Sarajevo, site of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that triggered the Great War.
In Davos, Abe pointed out that war broke out in 1914 despite strong economic relations between Germany and Britain.
“I think we are in a similar situation. We don’t want an inadvertent conflict arising between these two countries,” he told reporters.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang roundly rejected the simile Thursday.
“Actually in history China was already a major country in the Tang and Song dynasties (from the seventh to the 13th centuries), so there is no so-called ‘China is becoming a major country’,” he said.
“There is no need to make an issue of the Britain-Germany relationship.”
Chinese officials have lashed out at Abe since his December 26 visit to the hugely controversial Yasukuni shrine, which honours 2.5 million Japanese war dead including 14 senior war criminals described by Qin as “the Nazis of the East”.
The shrine is seen in China and South Korea as a symbol of Japan’s 20th century military and colonial aggression which saw the country occupy a large swathe of East Asia, often to brutal effect on civilians and prisoners of war.
In what analysts see as crude propaganda, the overseas edition of the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily headlined an article “Hitler’s DNA in Abe”, illustrated with a mock-up of Japan’s leader gazing up at the Fuhrer.
The Global Times tabloid, in its English edition, this week carried a cartoon of Japan’s national flag with the sun symbol in the centre dripping blood and a swastika imposed.
“You could say it’s propaganda,” Torsten Weber, an expert in modern East Asian history at the German Institute for Japanese Studies in Tokyo, told AFP.
“It is a way to distort history and it’s also a way to distract attention from more pressing problems that, for example, China faces.”
Chinese media have also tried to compare Abe unfavourably with how Germany faced up to Nazi atrocities.
The official Xinhua news agency urged him to follow the example of West German chancellor Willy Brandt, who fell to his knees at a monument to victims of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising — a brutally crushed 1943 revolt by Jews in the Polish capital facing deportation to the Nazi death camps.
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