Japan should drop its sense of superiority and tricks over China, Asia

Sept. 18 – Eighty-one years have passed since the Japanese invasion of China‘s northeast. But now, it is time for Japan to drop its sense of superiority regarding China and Asia in general.

Japan has to recognize that China is no longer weak and poor as it was in the 1930s, when it suffered great disasters brought by Japanese militarism. The balance of power between the two countries has drastically changed.

Sept. 18, 1931 is a day of disgrace in Chinese history, as it marks the day Japan launched an invasion of China’s northeast and occupied the whole region four months later. The incident was followed by Japan’s invasion of Pacific Asia in 1941, leading to one of the greatest disasters in the region.

The anniversary this year is quite different from before, as it coincides with Japan’s “purchase” of part of the Diaoyu Islands, triggering fierce anti-Japan sentiment in China.

Japan’s arrogance and provocation regarding the Diaoyu Islands is in line with its complex formed over one century ago, when it proclaimed superiority over China and Asia.

The two countries became rivals over the last 500 years, with Japan catching up with and defeating China in the late 19th century. Even its defeat in World War II could not break its sense of superiority, as Japan considered China’s victory to be a present from the United States and the Soviet Union, turning a blind eye to the Chinese people’s heroic resistance.

Japan has been heavily influenced by China and learned a great deal from Chinese culture. China enjoyed comprehensive superiority over its neighbor in all fields, including military strength, at that time.

However, China experienced decline since the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), while Japan rose as a world power in the late 1860’s, when the country completely reformed its political and social structure by using European powers as models.

During the Meiji Restoration, Japan adopted a policy of breaking away from Asia and merging with Europe. It viewed China at that time as an antiquated and decaying country.

Its fear of China died with Japan’s overwhelming victory in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895). The defeat also obliterated China’s first attempt to modernize.

Japan subsequently established its superiority over China, both in actual strength and in mentality, as it no longer viewed China as a teacher.

During its expansion, Japan forced China to cede Taiwan in 1895 and annexed the Korean Peninsula in 1910. In the early 1940s, Japanese aggression saw little resistance in Asia and reached its peak after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

Japanese militarists called for a “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” in the 1930s, attempting to create a bloc led by the Japanese and free of Western powers.

Although Japanese militarists and war criminals’ pipe dreams ended with the country’s unconditional surrender to Allied powers, Japan’s sense of superiority continued due to the U.S. desire to contain the Soviet Union and China.

But 60 years after World War II, the situation has completely changed. China has maintained rapid economic development and in 2010 surpassed Japan to become the world’s second-largest economy. The strength of China’s national defense has grown accordingly.

Japan is now suffering from a long-term economic downturn, along with an aging population.

China’s rise has touched the nerves of some Japanese, who have resorted to tricks to disturb China’s peaceful development. This may be the cause of the tension experienced after a short friendly period in the 1980s.

The present China is not the same as the China of years past. Japan should face the situation, drop its obsolete sense of superiority and take a constructive attitude to solve disputes.

This is the only way to achieve common development in both countries and Asia as a whole.

By Xinhua writer Ren Ke


Dawn of a new superpower

When the world continues to discuss China’s impact even when there are other issues to consider, China has clearly ‘arrived’

CHINA’S unrelenting growth is continuing to fuel speculation about the implications of its spectacular rise for the rest of the world.

Its irrepressive re-emergence as a major world power shapes and colours private discourses, academic analyses and bilateral and multilateral discussions, whether or not intended originally to discuss China.

It permeates strategic discourses behind closed doors, casual coffeeshop talk and everything in between. The recent Germany-Malaysia Security Forum in Kuala Lumpur, sponsored by Konrad Adenaur Stiftung (KAS) and organised by ISIS Malaysia, was an example.

Germany’s political foundations like the KAS are affiliated with their respective political parties, and with the KAS it is with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s rightwing Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

It is significant that even with a conservative CDU government, Germany has no qualms about the rise of China. German delegates instead looked constructively ahead to an even more prosperous China with which to work, above and beyond any ideological differences.

A Malaysian delegate privately remarked that Germans had been trading successfully with China for centuries. China had been a major world power then and, after a period of isolation and internal upheaval, it is becoming a major world power again.

Countries East and West that have had similarly positive experiences with China feel the same. Those that might have upset China through war, invasion, occupation or squabbling over tiny islets might feel differently, but exactly how an unprovoked China would perceive them today is another matter.

A larger conference in Berlin some years ago attended by delegates from various countries, and sponsored by Germany’s Defence Ministry, was similarly positive about China. At that time, Merkel’s government comprised her CDU, the equally rightwing Christian Social Union (of Bavaria) and the left-of-centre Social Democratic Party (SPD) of her immediate predecessor, Gerhard Schröder.

Since then, Merkel’s CDU-led coalition had substituted the SPD with the Free Democratic Party (FDP), a centrist party that became another right-of-centre party. That Germany’s formal posture towards a rising China has not changed indicates that its positive outlook on China is deep-seated and enduring, unaffected by political ideologies in Germany or China.

Nonetheless, some classic questions about a rising China and its impact on Asia and the world linger. These tend to refer to developments such as the increasing defence expenditure of countries in East Asia.

Other slick assumptions are that Asean countries are “hedging” against China, and the world has moved from the Westphalian concept of national sovereignty to that of “responsibility to protect”. The former is untested and the latter is still disturbing.

It is easy to make a superficial connection between these issues and a rising China, and then to conclude that there is an arms race in the region, and the arms race must therefore have resulted from a region alarmed by China’s rise.

These points had been raised erroneously 20 years ago, and they will still be raised 20 or more years from now. The problem with these simple-minded assumptions is that they neglect both the key details and the big picture.

All countries spend continually on defence, routinely preparing for contingencies from any quarter and not just to arm against any particular threat. This happens everywhere all the time, regardless of the prevailing strategic situation in a country or region.

A Malaysian delegate explained that it was part of the normal course of running defence establishments, when countries need to renew their ageing arsenals or when they become more developed and can afford to spend more. It might be added that defence procurement is the most lucrative industry in the world, so it easily acquires a logic and a momentum of its own.

However, at a time when Philippine and Chinese officials have had uncomfortable brushes with each other over the disputed Scarborough shoal in the South China Sea, blips in national defence budgets may appear suggestive.

But alarmist presumptions about regional threats and the need to “arm” against them can easily acquire a logic and a momentum of their own as well, however unjustified. At the same time, some parties may be hoping to see conflict in the region to profit from it through the arms trade, strategic leverage or recruitment of allies.

Such a prospect militates against this region’s collective interests and several of its abiding realities.

First, the political stability and economic prosperity of countries in East Asia depend on the stability and propensity for growth in the region as a whole. Injury to the region’s prospects also hurts individual national prospects.

Second, the countries in East Asia, particularly those of Asean, are clearly dwarfed by China. No amount of individual “arming” can address the gulf in national defence capacities between them and China.

Third, Asean countries are still unable to act as one militarily even if by doing so their collective clout can achieve some “balance” with a hulking China. Age-old border issues, disputed maritime territory and other niggling bilateral concerns have prevented any sense of an Asean security entity from developing until now and for the foreseeable future.

Fourth, the immature presumption that smaller countries in East Asia can always bank on the US for protection is both mistaken and dangerous, because that notion becomes very destabilising whenever it is proven untrue.

The notion of a US acting as a countervailing force against China derives only from those instances when US and indigenous concerns coincide in ways that are dissimilar to China’s. When US and East Asian interests diverge, as they will at certain points, the regional strategic picture will change.

US-China joint interests have grown tremen­dously and will continue to grow. They may already have surpassed the shared interests between the US and East Asia minus China.

The US itself is the sole superpower with an agenda and priorities of its own. Beyond a limited convergence of interests with other countries, it will not deign to act as a servant or bodyguard of smaller nations.

China remains inundated with domestic problems of its own. These span pressing social, administrative and environmental concerns as well as restive provinces and an economy running out of steam.

Meanwhile, it has witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union that had suffered excessive arms expenditures, and a troubled US economy weighed down by overspending on foreign wars. Pragmatic Chinese leaders today would know better than to repeat those mistakes.

Modern China’s success also depends considerably on a peaceful East Asia that has enabled it to boost its exports worldwide. And since the regional peace has also been maintained by a US military presence in the Asia-Pacific, China as its greatest economic beneficiary might perhaps be asked to help pay for that presence.

When I mentioned that to Martin Jacques, the British academic and author of When China Rules The World, he chuckled. But that is a modern-day reality that a country like Germany may be able to understand.

Clearly, not all Western views of a rising China are created equal. The differences between the German and US views are interesting, and they become more telling when Germany is a leading country and the strongest economy in Europe.

Perhaps that has something to do with Germany not having to “guard” its status as the sole superpower in the world.

Behind The Headlines By Bunn Nagara

Is The Chinese Economic Model The Way Of The Future?

Ralph BenkoRalph Benko, Forbes Contributor

Economic growth policy, especially the gold standard; and populism.

This writer’s standard stump speech, on the conservative lecture circuit, used to begin “I love Barack Obama.”  (Dramatic pause.  Confusion mounts.)  “Not since the days of the Soviet Union, which I enjoyed a minor but not quite trivial role in helping to bring down, have I had an adversary worthy of my powers.”

In the event, Mr. Obama turned into a disappointment.  He combines a smug, supercilious hectoring with a record of accomplishment somewhere between pathetic and perverse. Not a worthy adversary after all.

Therefore, imagine the excitement of finding, published on the op-ed page of The Wall Street Journal, no less, Andy Stern extolling something very like … well, communism.  Stern, together with its international Vice President Eliseo Medina, grew the SEIU into a behemoth of organized labor, even splitting the AFL-CIO, leaders of the historic stature of Reuther, Lewis and Meany.  Finally, a worthy adversary!

Stern begins with a quotation from former Intel CEO Andy (“Only the Paranoid Survive”) Grove:

Our fundamental economic beliefs, which we have elevated from a conviction based on observation to an unquestioned truism, is that the free market is the best of all economic systems – the freer the better. Our generation has seen the decisive victory of free-market principles over planned economies. So we stick with this belief largely oblivious to emerging evidence that while free markets beat planned economies, there may be room for a modification that is even better.

Referencing a recent trip to China, and extolling its rapid growth, Stern delivers his indictment:

The conservative-preferred, free-market fundamentalist, shareholder-only model-so successful in the 20th century-is being thrown onto the trash heap of history in the 21st century.  In an era when countries need to become economic teams, Team USA’s results – a jobless decade, 30 years of flat median wages, a trade deficit, a shrinking middle class and phenomenal gains in wealth but only for the top 1% – are pathetic.

This should motivate leaders to rethink, rather than double down on an empirically failing free-market extremism. As painful and humbling as it may be, America needs to do what a once-dominant business or sports team would do when the tide turns: study the ingredients of its competitors’ success.

This indictment understandably threw a number of my co-fundamentalists into rage.   The irrepressible Rush Limbaugh:

Folks, just like with the communists in the Soviet Union or the ChiComs, the ultimate goal of the Democrat Party is to discourage anyone from getting anything unless it comes from The Party … Let me sum this up for you: Andy Stern says capitalism and free markets have been shown not to work, they are a fraud; that what we need to do is to become China.  China is communist.  That’s what we need to do.

NRO’s Reihan Salam on Andy Stern’s Peculiar Idea:

To really learn from the Chinese, and to enjoy such staggering growth rates, we should go about things differently: let’s have a Maoist insurrection followed by a civil war that lasts for several years. Then let’s destroy most of the wealth in the country, and drive out millions of our most enterprising and educated citizens by launching systematic terror campaigns during which millions of others will die in violence or of starvation. Next, let’s have a modest economic opening in coastal regions: impoverished citizens will be allowed to launch small-scale township and village enterprises and components will be assembled in a handful of cities by our stunted descendants. Then let’s severely curb those township and village enterprises because they represent a potential political threat and invite large foreign multinationals and state-owned enterprises [let’s not forget those!] to work our population to the bone at artificially suppressed wage rates, threatening those who complain with serious reprisals up to and including death. Let us also initiate a population control policy designed to improve our dependency ratio for a few decades.

Jeffrey Folks in American Thinker: A Stern Vision of America:

State planning has led to inefficient steel mills that have collapsed under the weight of their unsustainable cost structures, oversupply of housing (including those 700,000 units going up in Chongqing annually), high-speed rail networks that have had to be shut down, and state-sponsored banks with opaque balance sheets masking undisclosed losses.  It is not state control and planning that have resulted in economic growth.  That growth has taken place in spite of the state’s efforts to plan and control the economy.

Nor is China the edenic land of income equality that Stern wishes to foster in the U.S.  Under revised guidelines, China has just quadrupled its estimate of the number of its citizens living in poverty.  Political corruption is rampant throughout the party apparatus that governs the economy ….

The American Spectator’s Ross Kaminsky writes, in “Stern Idiocy”:

Stern is at his most aggressively Marxist when he says that the “free-market fundamentalist” economic system “is being thrown onto the trash heap of history in the 21st century.” He says that capitalism is “empirically failing” simply because China and other rapidly developing nations have a higher growth rate than the U.S. does. But there are plenty of poor nations on earth to compare and the real empirical evidence is the incredible correlation between economic liberty and national prosperity.  As Professor Jacques Garello explained in an excellent 2004 speech, “freer countries are always more developed” because more freedom brings more private (especially foreign) investment, more knowledge, more entrepreneurial spirit, and the development of human capital.

Well, it is one of the paradoxes of our epoch that the same hand engineered the policies that led to vibrant economic growth both in America and in China.  Shake the hand of Robert Mundell, a Nobel Laureate in economics who, as prime author of “the Mundell-Laffer Hypothesis” was the chief architect of the Supply Side economics pioneered by Jack Kemp and implemented by Ronald Reagan. It led to the creation of 40 million jobs under Reagan and Clinton. Mundell is so esteemed by the Chinese that he has been made an honorary professor at 30 universities there.  According to Ahead of His Time by Laura Wallace, a profile for the IMF’s F&D:

Bob (says his former student Michael Mussa) has always been an enormously stimulating and unorthodox thinker. So there has been a consistency. His contributions were related partly to his willingness to think outside the box.’ Actually, Mundell doesn’t see himself as a maverick economist, insisting that his work has stayed steadfastly in the tradition of the great economists from Adam Smith through the founders of the IMF, including Keynes, who believed in fixed exchange rates based either on gold or on a world currency.

Stern, whom this writer views as an authentic humanitarian (with whom he has some principled disagreements), now is a senior fellow at Columbia University’s Richman Center.  Columbia is Mundell’s home base.  Of course it is pleasant to gaze at the cranes in the skyline of Chongqing and dream about how it must have been the “streamlined government” of “aggressive and popular Communist Party leader Bo Xilai” that brought this about.

But Andy?  Since Mundell’s your neighbor, now, you might just want to go right to the policy taproot for those skyscrapers and share a glass of wine with the economist whom this writer has elsewhere called the “greatest living humanitarian.” Find out what the grand architect of the present world economy himself thinks is the solution to “a jobless decade, 30 years of flat median wages, a trade deficit, a shrinking middle class and phenomenal gains in wealth but only for the top 1%.”  You might even ask him what Ms. Wallace meant when she summarized his prescription:

[I]f Mundell could have his way, the entire world would be one big optimum currency area, sharing a global currency. But he admits that political rivalries make it difficult for this to happen because a necessary condition for the creation of a monetary union—global or otherwise—is the creation of a security area. He believes that, in a world where war is a possibility, an international monetary system based on a fiat world currency wouldn’t work unless it were backed by one or more of the precious metals.

Stern tells us to “study the ingredients of our competitor’s success.”  Andy?  Yes indeed, please do! You may well find the haute chef of world prosperity-with-equity residing very nearby and generous in sharing with you those ingredients.

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