02/15/2013, 00.00
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Disputed islands could lead to a disastrous war for everyone

by Wei Jingsheng
In both China and Japan, mad and blind policies combined with nationalism and fanaticism are behind the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute. US policy is making matters worse. Its approach seems to have been "planned by bookworms and entrepreneurs, rather than politicians." An armed conflict would be a disaster for the entire world. Such a war would bring nothing and would leave no one immune.

Washington (AsiaNews) - Three Chinese vessels have entered the waters near Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which are disputed by Beijing and Tokyo. Judging the move unacceptable Japan has said that it would take adequate countermeasures. This military provocation comes after the dispute between the two nations over the islands heated up in September even though it is unclear whether they are economically valuable. What it is clear is that they have become a lightening rod for nationalism in two countries affected by political divisions and economic problems.

According to Wei Jingsheng, a great Chinese dissident who authored one of the essays posted on the 'Democracy Wall', the dispute poses huge risks. Now that the United States has waded into the conflict, things might get worse rather than better, and turn it into an armed confrontation that would hurt both sides. Here is Wei's analysis of the situation.

The dispute between Japan and China over the Diaoyu Islands has been like one wave coming after another.  It has already been determined by the U.S. Secretary of Defense that it "could result in violence and could result in conflict" without a good end.  This is not what the USA expected when it was realigning its policies to return to Asia.  However, it should have been expected.

When the Obama administration planed its policy of returning to Asia, it treated Japan as a major driving force.  It planned to promote Japan's position in Asia to suppress the rapid rise of the Chinese Communist regime.  Thus it could stimulate Japan's sense of responsibility, to encourage it to take some responsibility, and meanwhile save the resources of the United States, instead of a unilateral hands-on approach for everything.  This seemed to be a perfect plan.  Unfortunately, this plan is too academic and industrialized.  In other words, it is like a scheme planned by bookworms and entrepreneurs, rather than politicians.

The genesis of this plan is intuitive and simple as a factory production workshop, rather than an evaluation of the deeper and complicated changes in Japan, China and the United States.  So it has encountered a predicament of its own making.  Now let us make a simply review of the gap between this plan and reality.

First, the plan incorrectly treated the reaction of the Hu Jintao's administration as that of Xi Jinping's. Initially, it reckoned that China would retreat when Japan pressed harder and harder; that China would adopt Deng Xiaoping's policy regarding this territorial dispute headed by Japan and collaborated with by the Philippines in an effort to keep the momentum of economic development in China.  The result would be that the confidence of the U.S. allies would greatly increase while the hegemony of China would greatly reduce.  Without a shot being fired, the United States could concretely return to Asia.

But the first result was that the actual reaction from Xi Jinping which was totally unexpected of the USA.  First, Xi had just taken over power.  If he wanted to achieve something, he needed to establish prestige.

According to tradition in the Chinese Communist Party, to have a victorious battle is the simplest and most effective method to establish prestige.  Both Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping established their undisputed prestige by defeating a powerful enemy.  Second, Xi Jinping dared to take a gamble against the USA and believes that the USA will not dare nor is it capable of waging a war, especially waging a full-scale war with a big country of nuclear power.  It can be said that Xi Jinping has basically won the bet already.

The second result that was out of the expectation of the USA was the reaction of Japan and the Philippines.  The Philippine President has already begun to emphasize his Chinese ancestry, obviously wanting to exit the battle safely and hide on the sidelines waiting for profit from others 'conflicts.  This is a very normal reaction from a weak country such as the Philippines.  It also illustrates that the international community clearly views that the USA will not resort to another war.  Hoping to confront China by relying on U.S. military support is a very foolish choice.

Japan should not take a hard-line strategy that provokes a war, but should choose entangled tactics, as Mao Zedong said, "When the enemy advances, we retreat; when the enemy retreats, we advance." That is because Japan will not get any benefit from war, but entangled tactics obviously puts both Chinese foreign and internal affairs at a disadvantage.  If Xi Jinping's administration did not provide results, not only would Xi Jinping be unable to explain this failure to the fanatical nationalist youths in China, he would be unable to explain it to the candidates inside the Communist Party who want to overthrow him.  The hard-line of Japan pushed Xi Jinping into a corner.  Not to mention that Xi has the assurance to defeat Japan alone.

The foolishness of Japan is not due the foolishness of its politicians, but due to its fanatical nationalism that does not allow its politicians to take a flexible strategy.  As soon as the Yoshihiko Noda government slightly displayed some flexibility, the fanatical Japanese people ousted it.  The ignorance and fanaticism of the Japanese nation led to its failure in the Second World War, yet they do not think it was their fault.

 Now, they are pushing its government toward the abyss.  The promise of security from the USA is pouring the oil on this fire of Japanese fanaticism.

Who would profit from this possible war?  For certain, Japan will be the most miserable.  Because this war will not be carried out on someone else's land.  From the beginning, it will be carried out on the territory of Japan, and may not get the support from the United States.  What the United States can do is to confine the war to the territories of China and Japan instead of spreading to the rest of Asia, or even the whole world.

Of course the USA will carry out real trade sanctions, which is conducive to improving its domestic economy and employment conditions.

To the Chinese Communist regime, it will gain more than lose; but to China itself, the drawback would be more than the benefit.  This war would make the foreign relations of China return back to where they were before the

1972 U.S. President Richard Nixon's visit to China, meanwhile losing its favorable international environment for economic adjustment and development.  More importantly, it would consolidate authoritarian rule of the Chinese Communist Party with the support of fanatical nationalism, thus losing the last chance for democratic reform.  Maybe there would be a revolution like that in 1917, but it may also extend the rule of the Chinese Communist Party.

The original assumption of the Americans is that they could stay out.  But this is impossible.  When the second and third largest economies in the world are at war the global economy will collapse, thus also resulting in a synchronous impact on the U.S. economy.  Although it is possible that the Sino-US trade deficit would be reduced, due to the decrease in exports to both China and Japan the employment rate in the USA would not be increased.  The level of consumption in the United States will certainly decline; the financial industry will fall into a disaster.  Due to the variability of the war, all the industries must adapt.  Development will certainly stagnate or go backwards.  The results will not be good for the USA either.

There is another possibility that the war would not be as the people planed and remain only between China and Japan.   As was said in Art of War by Sun Wu: warfare is based on treachery.  It is characterized by the unpredictable and does not follow rules.  Further, a war between two big countries involves a huge range of interests.  The possibility of the war being limited only on the territories of these two countries is not likely.  Who could guarantee themselves to be safely positioned outside this kind of world war?

Since it is a war that could benefit no one, then each party should try to work together to stop it.  What is needed now is for the politicians of the three parties to calm their minds and take some responsible actions.

The disaster of many wars is caused by political intrigue and fanaticism of the politicians whose minds were not clear.  Often the small calculations of the politicians are likely to bring huge disasters.

Who would be responsible for these disasters?  Usually those who bear the consequences of the disasters are the average people.

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