US may shoot it­self in foot by con­niv­ing Ja­pan

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

Dur­ing his week­long visit to theUnited States that started on April 25, Ja­panese PrimeMin­is­ter Shinzo Abe has made some eco­nomic and mil­i­tary break­throughs inUS-Ja­pan al­liance. The two coun­tries seek to im­ple­ment the newguide­line for their de­fense co­op­er­a­tion and ex­pe­dite the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship Agree­ment ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The two­sides an­nounced the newguide­line, the first re­vi­sion since 1997, on April 26, which al­lows Ja­pan to ex­er­cise col­lec­tive self-de­fense and in­ten­sify re­gional and global co­op­er­a­tion with the aim of strength­en­ing the US-Ja­pan al­liance. The newguide­line is also ex­pected to en­hance their co­op­er­a­tion in Bal­lis­ticMis­sile De­fense sys­tems, as well as space and cy­berspace se­cu­rity.

The de­vel­op­ments sug­gest Ja­pan has suc­cess­fully used theUS’ pivot to Asia strat­egy to even­tu­ally free it­self of the re­stric­tions on dis­patch­ing troops over­seas. Be­cause of the ColdWar men­tal­ity, theUS has even eased its “hold” on Ja­pan.

But theUS should never for­get the suf­fer­ings Ja­pan caused it dur­ingWorldWar II. By en­cour­ag­ing Ja­pan to grad­u­ally chal­lenge the post­war world or­der, theUS will ul­ti­mately end up shoot­ing it­self in the foot.

US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry even claimed that the Diaoyu Is­lands are un­der the purviewof the new guide­line. Such a state­ment can only mean theUS is go­ing back on its words, be­cause it had been re­it­er­at­ing time and again that it holds a neu­tral stance on the Diaoyu Is­lands dis­pute. The con­tra­dic­tory stance not only ex­poses theUS’ hypocrisy, but will also en­cour­age Ja­pan to heighten ten­sions in Asia.

As to the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship, it plays a vi­tal role in theUS’ Asia-Pa­cific strat­egy be­causeWash­ing­ton in­tends to make it a 12-na­tion trade block that ex­cludes China.

Ja­pan, of course, is ea­ger to be a part of this TPP agree­ment, which, to keep China away, sets high en­try stan­dards so long as the dead­lock in the bar­gain over agri­cul­tural prod­ucts and au­to­mo­biles with theUS can be bro­ken.

Even if theUS and Ja­pan reach an agree­ment on the out­stand­ing is­sues, nei­ther will find the re­sult al­le­vi­at­ing if China, the world’s sec­ond largest econ­omy and the great­est boost­ing fac­tor for re­gional pros­per­ity, is ex­cluded. As the April 26 ed­i­to­rial in Fi­nan­cial Times said, “Bei­jing should be en­cour­aged to join as soon as fea­si­ble”, be­cause the TPP is “a trade agree­ment, not a geopo­lit­i­cal one in dis­guise”.

In­deed, the cur­rent high en­try stan­dards for the TPP have made it dif­fi­cult for China to join it. But that does not mean it will not give it an­other go. See­ing the TPP as a tool for con­tain­ing it, Bei­jing did have doubts aboutWash­ing­ton’s in­vi­ta­tion at the be­gin­ning. But in re­cent years, a more con­fi­dent Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has even started im­ply­ing that the coun­try­may par­tic­i­pate in the TPP when the time is ripe.

The newUS-Ja­pan de­fense guide­line and the on­go­ing TPP ne­go­ti­a­tions show that many politi­cians in the West still see China’s rise as a grave dan­ger to their coun­tries. They even think China is try­ing to es­tab­lish its own re­gional or­der. It is the ColdWar men­tal­ity that has nur­tured the newUS-Ja­pan de­fense guide­line and dis­torted TPP ne­go­ti­a­tions.

China will not be wor­ried if it can­not be­come a TPP mem­ber, be­cause the “Belt and Road Ini­tia­tives” and the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank it has pro­posed in or­der to pro­mote a more in­clu­sive re­gional eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion have gained rapid trac­tion. The au­thor is a re­searcher at the Na­tional In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Strat­egy at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences.

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