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In recent years pundits both domestic and foreign have been dabbling at the idea that China should be proactive in rescuing the rapidly deteriorating Sino-Japanese relationship; that she has a real opportunity to befriend Japan through offering an olive branch on which the formerly inscribed words “No visits to the Shrine” have been erased.|
These incredibly naive folks are saying that it is up to the Chinese to show magnanimity towards the Japanese and let bygones be bygones in the same way that the French seem to have forgiven the Germans for the Wehrmacht’s incursion into Paris in June, 1940.
What's more, they argue that we should let our unrepentant neighbors continue their visits to the Shrine where urns housing the ashes of their convicted-war-criminal forebears are being kept, while we could play our part of the game making loud but meaningless protests over these visits – meaningless because there has been no causal-consequential relationship between their intransigence and our meting out punishment.
Aren’t the Americans, these same folks have intimated, pretending to abide by the One China Principle while openly selling arms to Taiwan, and yet we are doing nothing to stop them other than lodging ineffectual complaints? Under these circumstances, why are the Japanese singled out for reprimands year after year?
These questions will be examined here with preponderant emphasis on Japan.
The case of European peoples coming together politically in the EU is often invoked by some people as a sign of their 'spiritual maturity,' that it is because the Chinese people are ‘spiritually immature’ that they have not consigned themselves to forgiving Japan like France has forgiven Germany.
To these folks I have this to say: Do not compare apples and oranges and draw lessons from widely dissimilar and incomparable chapters of world history.
It is not that China does not want to forgive Japan. The fact of the matter is that the Japanese do not want themselves to be forgiven by anyone. To accept forgiveness means that the person recognizes that he/she has sinned. Yet presently remorseful sentiment is totally lacking in the Japanese psyche. On the contrary, these forgetful sinners are already maneuvering to revive militarism by changing their 'no-war' constitution.
This is clearly shown by the repeated visits made by lawmakers to the Yasukuni Shrine -- this time right on the heels of Ambassador Wang Yi's statement regarding Sino-Japanese relationship as being premised on Japan's caring about the feelings of the Chinese people.
Let me repeat this important fact: a nation will ask for forgiveness from another nation only when there is genuine mutual respect. Such genuine respect is still largely lacking amongst the Japanese as of this moment because China's progress has been unexpectedly swift and it will take some time for it to sink into the Japanese psyche and for the Japanese to recover from the unbelieving shock.
As for the comparison between Paris and Nanjing, the Germans never massacred the French in such an atrocious manner after their march into Paris in June 1940. In other words, the Nazis did not brutalize the French population with the same degree of sadistic malevolence that the Japanese troops did during the Nanjing Massacre and elsewhere. Mutual respect supersedes national hatred between the two adjoining nations.
A total of 35 million Chinese were killed in the cruelest way possible in that war -- vivisections, beheading, disembowelment, rape and then disembowelment, bayonet practice, burying alive, exposure to the elements, medical injections of microbes -- not to mention material wealth that was destroyed or plundered from the land.
We shall now examine the problem of Japanese Shrine visits in the context of American arms sales to Taiwan and the Taidu malevolence, since the three are inextricably intertwined as three facets of the same problem.
An impasse has now been reached in which China is facing a Hobson’s Choice and has to come up with a master stroke to untie the Gordian Knot.
Through the appointment of Wang Yi to his new post in Tokyo, China is trying to show the importance she attaches to Japan. He is trying to tackle the three problems in a piecemeal fashion, beginning with the Shrine visitation problem while America is busy in her presidential elections. But I predict that such a policy will run into a wall.
Yes, despite Wang’s superb qualifications for the job and knowledge of the island, he will end up being ineffectual in his capacity as China's ambassador to Japan.
Such an end result cannot be blamed on Wang Yi. It is the overall piecemeal approach that needs rectification.
In Mao's words, we need to find the principal contradiction. What we need to do is to conjoin the three issues and then get a crack at the principal contradiction.
So what has China done in respect to the three issues?
Firstly, she has tried to let the Taiwanese compatriots understand that any cross-strait war will not be fought until all other means have been exhausted and that their welfare is taken into careful consideration; but here she has forgotten to actively encourage the Taiwanese to fight against Chen’s wulai or derelict government.
Instead, these opportunists who are encouraged to consider only their own personal or familial welfare have now migrated to invest in real estate in Shanghai, and not stayed to oust Chen through political struggles on the island. As a result of mass exodus of the grassroots Pan-Blue voters, it looks like the Taidus will be gaining momentum to win in the coming elections.
Secondly, she has tried to convince America that her actions are honorable and that she would not harm U.S. commercial interests in Taiwan even if there is cross-strait strife, but in this instance she has clearly forgotten that America is in her Fourth Phase of expansion and has other things besides her commercial interests in mind. Harboring a willy-nilly any-which-way-but-loose mindset, the hegemon is going to prepare for war denying China access to her rightful possessions in the West Pacific. 911 sidetracked her efforts three years ago but she will certainly be back.
Thirdly, she has tried to convince the Japanese that for the sake of future generations of East Asians the two nations should combine their strengths to achieve a win-win situation, but she has forgotten that diehard militarists are still dreaming of reviving their imperial past. They are only afraid of massive pre-emptive nuclear strikes, and because of China’s “no first use” pledge exactly forty years ago on the day of China's first nuclear explosion, the Japanese believe that they have all the time they’ll need to develop effective anti-missile shields and that once that is done, they would not hesitate to launch their first strikes on China.
"No first use” is absent from the Japanese lexicon. Both the attack in Shenyang on September 18, 1931 and the one on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 have shown that to be beyond reasonable doubt.
Let me emphasize one point:
We cannot do it in piecemeal fashion. Solving any of the problems will entail solving all three simultaneously, and the American problem is the central one.
Without an international environment conducive to a solution of the American problem, none of the other two would become solvable by peaceful means. And that’s why many feel that the November election is important not just for America, but for the nations in the entire West Pacific area.
They fear that George W. Bush will unwitting be used by the Japanese to give a go-ahead to ignite the tinderbox, in the same way that he has been tricked by Iran into fighting Saddam Hussein's troops. Personally I think that the Bush and Kerry camps are quite similar in their policies regarding China, and their major difference is only on how to win the peace in Iraq.
Remember that both Asian land wars fought against China either directly (Korea) or by proxy (Vietnam) had been started under a Democratic administration, but American society has changed so much since the 1980s that it is literally a different nation by now. The neocons are in fact the ultraliberals of yesteryear, and the differences between the Democrats and Republicans have become hazier than ever.
China’s piecemeal olive-branch approach to the Japan problem is useless as reflected by the events of the past two days.
After his speech to a Japanese audience two days ago about the importance of heeding the feelings of the Chinese people, Ambassador Wang was humiliated by a vociferous visit to the Shrine by Japanese lawmakers the very next day, showing that such a political agenda had been decided upon by the Japanese long before Wang's appointment to Tokyo.
Then a day later the heir apparent to Koizumi came out with the assertion that the ball is in China's court and that it is up to China to take the initiative in improving Sino-Japanese relations. In other words, he is saying that Japan does not see anything wrong in their visitations to the Shrine.
Such a quick repartee is obviously aimed at testing the mettle and flexibility of our new leaders, from whom we have yet to hear any strong words of condemnation, as if they were taken by surprise by such a fast Japanese response in the first place.
The Hashimotos apparently feel that Wang is under domestic pressure to achieve a break-through in the stagnant relationship between the two Asian neighbors, and they are utilizing this opportunity to the hilt by holding Wang's feet to the fire by sending us this message ---
"We only want to sell you the gadgets that your nouveau-riche middle-class can’t refuse. This will help us recover from our calamitous decade-long plunge into the economic doldrums, but we are not interested in any real political re-alignment with China because we have already hitched our chariots to the Americans and besides, we want to be Numero Uno in East Asia. Henceforth we are preparing for the war that Chen Suibian will start in a year or two. We rejoice and quiver on our knees yelling “Banzai” in exuberant anticipation that we shall be able to avenge our defeat in WWII by pitting our two main erstwhile enemies against each other.”
It is obvious that here is a case in which our reasonable stand will have no persuasive power.
Ambassador Wang may just as well be talking to orangutans from Indonesia. Remember that the Japanese evolved from barbarism to modernity in too short a period of time for their genes to adapt to civilized existence, and events have now shown that despite the best intentions from us, their inborn trait of bloodthirstiness is impossible to quench through peaceful means.
As I had mentioned before, Japan has been making steady progress since the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Their militarist traditions and aggressive propensities have been preserved intact through carefully nurturing their emperor-centered culture.
It would be very easy for the ones in power to revive emperor-worship at a moment’s notice. In fact, they have already begun preparatory work in this direction by changing school curricula in which the kids are taught that the conflict they started sixty years ago was not an aggressive war that should be hung on the conscience of the Japanese nation.
Instead, the imperial war of aggression was billed as a Japanese Jihad fighting against Caucasians in Asia. The veracity of that pretentious plea was not supported by their actions in the conquered lands. No European nation had ever done what they did in Nanjing.
Such gross maleficence shows a total disregard on their part of historical facts and feelings of the Chinese people, which was emphasized in Ambassador Wang's speech.
Obviously it will take more than three decades of revolution (1949-78) and a quarter century of fast growth (1978-2004) in China to eradicate this obsolescent image of the Chinese in the minds of these diehard war criminals.
In other words, what the Chinese government expects the Japanese leaders to do at this point in time is not within the realm of political possibility, unless the American problem is also being solved.
By now events should have convinced us that it would take a cataclysmic event to completely erase traces of contempt and disdain that the Japanese still cherish in the bottom of their hearts towards the Chinese people. Images of Chinese disunity and appeasement of their victimizers have stayed essentially unchanged in the old memories of many remnant Japanese militarists who have become LDP kingmakers today.
To these folks, China’s niceties towards Japan and her interminable patience towards the Taidu elements are nothing more than signs of weakness. What's more, her sincere wishes for achieving a win-win future for East Asians look so incredibly naïve as to resemble a case of unrequited love in Japanese eyes.
As a side note, it should be clear to everyone that the carefully considered and sincere words of Ambassador Wang did not carry enough weight to dispel distrust amongst his eclectic audience. In contrast to the amicable and smiling Qiao Guanhua -- China's famously suave diplomat of the early Seventies -- Wang is a rather stern-faced diplomat relatively lacking in stature in front of the Japanese elders.
I was watching the news and saw that his speech outlining the political basis of a bona fide Sino-Japanese rapprochement was greeted with only lukewarm reception. The Japanese audience sat in stony silence -- occasionally awakened from their daydreams by their own bad body postures -- with few of them actually looking in the direction of the speaker. There was only polite applause at the end of his speech.
In fact, when Wang tried to give the Japanese face by not proactively mentioning the visits to the Shrine, someone in the audience brought the question up on purpose so that the significance of the subsequent rebuke by the Japanese lawmakers in visiting the Shrine immediately thereafter would not be lost on the public.
In other words, the Japanese government is telling us that they are deliberately choosing a confrontational stand with China on an issue that is factually unchallengeable and morally indefensible -- a preparation for war that they are making in collusion with the Americans. Their trump card is their knowledge that the Chinese government would not assume a preemptive-strike posture, and that the igniter of the fuse to the tinderbox of a cross-strait war would always be in either their hands or those of the Americans.
That’s why they are pushing full-steam ahead towards a credible TMD capability. Such expensive research is not aimed at the North Koreans, who are only being used as an excuse in their diabolical scheme.
Once they have found a credible deterrence, they will not hesitate to launch a strike against the mainland. Forget about their installing a self-imposed “no first use” mantra in their field doctrines using WMD.
Due to these reasons, I believe that this is hardly the right time to talk peace with these unrepentant miscreants, and that we have to meet this unavoidable challenge head on before the relation of our two nations can be put on a surer footing later.
It is also my firm belief based on observing the masochistic-sadistic Japanese character that they only respect verifiable physical strength and not good intentions on the part of their opponents. The more severely they are traumatized in the coming war, the greater will be their satisfaction and the smoother will be our transition to that mutually beneficial stage.
Presently the Japanese mentality is this:
"We can make money trading with the Chinese and revive our economy piggybacking on theirs. By doing nothing politically such as withholding visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, we shall score a diplomatic victory through our silence. The Chinese would look ridiculously eager to please us by sending top-level diplomats to Tokyo to talk about Sino-Japanese reconciliation, while we slap him in the face by visiting the place the day right after he makes such a plea. We will go on co-operating with the Americans in anti-missile defense systems and once we perfect that system, we will re-start a war with these hedonistic Chinese who forget their ancestors’ plight at Nanjing too soon and treat us too nicely – thinking that their non-confrontational posture over Taiwan and other East Asian hot spots is the behavior of a civilized nation, while in fact not exacting a rightful revenge is more inhumane than barbarism itself."
It is futile for China to try to befriend a people harboring such thoughts. We shall therefore not pin our hopes on the remorse of a rogue nation to secure our rendezvous with destiny.
Trying to befriend such people is like trying to politely ask some hoods next door to stop banging on the walls, to desist from yelling and dancing at 3 a.m., telling them with an apologetic smile that you have to go to work in the morning and desperately need some sleep.
Calling for police is futile in this case. Remember that the hood’s brother-in-law across the Pacific Pond is the police chief and it is futile to try to enlist his assistance. To treat a rascal in the proper manner you need to play his game using your own draconian measures.
You can’t hire Jackie Chan to do the job by monkeying around in a hot balloon for eighty days. Instead, you need to summon Terminator III to go in and hose them down with liquid nitrogen.
Unfortunately for the world, this is the only language those nincompoops seem to be able to understand.
Wei Chao, M.D.