We must prepare to be increasingly vigilant and undertake a hardline approach to diplomacy, commensurate with an abnormally centralized power and the destruction of the international order.
With the close of the 19th Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the elected party leadership has consolidated the rule of Chinese President Xi Jinping (head of state), hailing the beginning of a second term for the Xi administration.
Of note was the incorporation of a political philosophy which bears Xi’s own name—“Xi Thought”—into the party regulations.
This is meant to confirm that Xi is as prestigious as founding father Mao Zedong, or Deng Xiaoping, who put China on the path to reform and opening up. Under this authority, Xi plans to build a country as strong as America by the mid-21st century.
Anachronistic Authoritarian State
While a response to the North Korean nuclear and missile crisis is urgently needed, don’t stop there. As far as the safety and prosperity of Japan is concerned, there is a need to recognize that China is our “greatest threat.”
There is nothing particularly novel about Mr. Xi’s “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era.” Yet, in embodying an insatiable greed for power, it is promoted as a political philosophy comparable to that of “Maoism” or “Deng Xiaoping Theory.”
So what does this leader plan to achieve in the next five years? Most likely, increasingly self-righteous governance in all areas. Bent on the notion of “wealth and military strength,” hegemony will be on the rise.
Political foes linked to party elders Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao have been eliminated under the guise of fighting corruption. The rights of the people are increasingly restricted amid proclamations of the “rule of law,” and the repression of human rights and freedom of speech movements are increasingly harsh.
On October 25th, the Sankei Shimbun and the other international media such as BBC, Financial Times and the New York Times were denied entrance to the press conference following the first session of the Party Central Committee General assembly. The regulation and monitoring of foreign press has begun. Rather than a “new era” it is perhaps more fitting to say it is regressing to a bygone era.
Speaking at the party convention, Xi called the construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea “an achievement,” revealingly indicating plans to “accelerate the development of maritime strength.” In terms of foreign affairs, too, blatant expansion will grow.
It is likely that the frequency of shipping activities in the East and South China Seas will swell, as will the flouting of international law to reap maritime bounty. We should also be increasingly wary of a Taiwan emergency.
The promulgation to build a “world-class military” rivaling that of the United States by mid-century is also a resolve to drive the US military presence out of the Asia-Pacific region.
With China expanding both on economic and military fronts, it will surpass the US to become the “most powerful country in the world.” And it seems that is Xi’s ambition.
Meanwhile, aping the Trump administration’s “America First,” Xi praised and promoted China as the flag bearers of globalization and free trade.
Build a Framework to Restrain China
The plan to build an economic hegemony favoring Chinese values was the catalyst for the modern silk road concept, “One Belt, One Road,” the nature of which clearly opposes an international order centered on Japan, the US, and Europe.
While we should assume that Chinese territorial ambitions extend to Okinawa and the Senkaku Islands, Japan should also be prepared for rising threats in the South and East China Seas. Strengthening defense capabilities for the south-western islands is an urgent issue.
Faced with these China issues, there is an increasing need for both countries to enhance the deterrent capabilities of the Japan-US alliance to preserve peace and safety in the region. Japan and the US should also meet the challenge of reaching out to Asia-Pacific nations which share the principles of freedom and democracy.
The fact that China talks of free trade is indicative of wavering on the part of those who share Japanese values. Japanese government should promote the US return of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP), reiterating its importance to the Trump administration.
In November President Trump will make his first visit to Japan, and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit is imminent. This would be the perfect opportunity to restrict Chinese expansion and encourage vigilance.
Even now, eight Japanese nationals are being held in China on suspicion of involvement in espionage activities. The anti-Japanese propaganda and anti-Japanese education continue. To what extent has the government presented an image of Japan as a country ready to address the issues when the life of its people and the prosperity of the nation is on the verge of crisis?
The government is working toward holding a Japan-China-South Korean Summit before the year’s end, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is calling for both himself and his Chinese counterpart to engage in visiting talks. There is no point in a summit without substance. What is necessary is to convey to our opponents a determined resolve to protect universal values, and the honor and prosperity of Japan.
(Click here to read the original article in Japanese.)