World View: Japan's Shinzo Abe Asserts Asian Leadership Against China

World View: Japan's Shinzo Abe Asserts Asian Leadership Against China

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Russia finally pulls its troops back from Ukrainian border
  • Japan’s Shinzo Abe asserts Asian leadership against China
  • The Chinese view of the ‘China Threat’
  • Nigeria blames Cameroon for failure to defeat Boko Haram

Russia finally pulls its troops back from Ukrainian border

When Russia moved 40,000 troops up to the border with Ukraine, it waswidely believed that a Russian invasion of Ukraine was imminent. Theinvasion never happened, but there followed a series of game-playing(intentional lying) episodes by Russia’s president Vladimir Putin,announcing that the troops were being pulled back, when in fact therewas no intention to pull them back. 

But now, finally, NATO is confirming that about 2/3rds of the troopshave been pulled back, though thousands of Russian troops stillremain. 

Even without an explicit invasion, the pullback does not indicate anend to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. Reports continue oftrucks laden with Russian and Chechen fighters and weapons travelingacross the border to support and supply the pro-Russian separatistmilitias. Russia’s “stealth invasion” indicates that further warfareis to come. Washington Post and Australian Broadcasting

Japan’s Shinzo Abe asserts Asian leadership against China

Speaking in Singapore on Friday at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue onAsian security issues, Japan’s president Shinzo Abe said that Japanwill continue to be a pacifist state that makes great contributions toglobal peace, and he expressed the intention for Japan to take a moreactive part in guaranteeing peace and security throughout Asia. 

However, he indicated that the way he’s going to do that is to allywith Vietnam and the Philippines to force international arbitrationover the territory that China plans to annex — and indeed has alreadyannexed by military force in some cases. 

What the world eagerly awaits is for our seas and ourskies to be places governed by rules, laws and established disputeresolution procedures. The least desirable state of affairs ishaving to fear that coercion and threats will take the place ofrules and laws, and that unexpected situations will arise atarbitrary times and places.

This was a direct criticism of China, which is refusing to followinternational rules and established dispute resolution procedures.China does not want to submit the disputes to a court, because Chinawould win some battles and would lose some others. China is thegreedy tyrant that wants everything. That’s why China was furious and began taking revenge against thePhilippines for appealing their disputes to the United NationsArbitral Tribunal. China has refused to cooperate with the Tribunal. 

At Friday’s conference, Abe said that Japan has provided ten patrolboats to the Philippine Coast Guard, and Japan is planning to dothe same for Vietnam as well. 

A Chinese analyst says that Abe is playing with international law toadvance nationalistic goals: “Abe is going against the spirit of peace that isfundamental to international law by using it as an excuse to movein the opposite direction.”

Japan Times and Xinhua

The Chinese view of the ‘China Threat’

China’s state-run news agency provides a very interesting analysis ofwhy they believe other countries see them as “evil or dangerous.”Here are some excerpts: 

A tragic hostility is unfolding in Asia while Vietnamand Japan, who share similar culture heritage with China, seetheir neighbor much more like a thorn in their sides. After aVietnamese fishing boat deliberately entered Chinese waters andcollided in a kamikaze-style attack on a vessel protecting an oilrig in China’s Xisha Islands on Monday, Hanoi blamed it on Chinaand quickly sought foreign aid to beef up its marinepatrol. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe found this a good chancefor finger-pointing and eagerly dressed up Japan as acounterweight to the growing influence of China. This is ironic.Since his Liberal Democratic Party-led government took power atthe end of 2012, Abe has been upsetting Asia with his attempts toreverting to militarism. 

A good question is why has the term “China threat” been coinedrather than “Japan threat”? Here are three key reasons. Firstly,China keeps emphasizing its special characteristics or differentiafrom the other states, which creates mystery and makes it easilydepicted as an imaginary enemy. Still today, many Chinese sadlyfind their national totem of the dragon and the red flag of thecountry’s governing party, both majestic in the Chinese culture,seen as evil or dangerous symbols in the West. Secondly, within afew decades, China effectively eliminated poverty, and quicklyrose into the world’s second-largest economy. More disturbing isthe fact that all its economic achievements have been made under apolitical system whose founders had aimed to eliminate capitalism. 

Over the past few centuries, the world has been following the Lawof the Jungle: the strong get stronger while the weak getweaker. Can China be so different from the previous powers in notseeking hegemony? It is a question upsetting many people acrossthe world. Many of those who advocate containing Chinainvoluntarily make an empirical judgment. It was too bad thatJapan was not stopped in the 1930s. So it is time to stop Chinanow, they say. But believe it or it, empiricism could bewrong. China will never be a second Japan. 

With a history of 5,000 years and incorporating diverse culturethat they have either created or had imposed on them, the Chinesepeople have developed a unique perspective on the relationshipbetween man and nature as well as between state and state. Thosefamiliar with Chinese history know China was the world’s mostpowerful state for a long period of time but it never colonized orinvaded any country. “However large a country is, bellicosity willcause it to perish,” goes an old Chinese adage that stillresonates nowadays.


Nigeria blames Cameroon for failure to defeat Boko Haram

The 200+ schoolgirls abducted on April 16 by the terror group BokoHaram in northeastern Nigeria have still not been recovered, and thereis no indication that they’ll ever be recovered. Furthermore, sincethe girls’ abductions, over 500 civilians have been killed in multipleterror attacks by Boko Haram. Nigeria has struck a deal with Niger toallow its troops to cross the border in pursuit of Boko Haram and isdiscussing a similar deal with Chad. But Cameroon is refusing to makesuch a deal, and Nigerian officials are accusing Cameroon of providinga safe haven for Boko Haram terrorists: 

Niger has been proactive and aggressive, Chad hasshown zero tolerance for Boko Haram. Cameroon, we’ve engaged themto be more pro-active. They haven’t really. Not yet.

However, Cameroon officials deny the allegations: 

Cameroon has never been the weakest link in thechain. As the deployment of troops and equipment in the past fewdays prove, we have put up an iron curtain with enough firepower,which Boko Haram cannot break.


KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Russia, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin, Nato,Japan, Shinzo Abe, Singapore, Shangri-La Dialog,Vietnam, Philippines, China, U.N. Arbitral Tribunal,Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Boko Haram 

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