Tue, Aug 10, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: China is a growing menace

A once-civilized sports competition became a "war" between China and Japan in the 2004 Asian Cup final at the Workers' Stadium in Beijing. China's sports fans are sore losers. They besieged the Japanese team buses, pounded a limousine carrying a Japanese embassy official, and burned Japanese flags. This sort of irrational behavior sets an extremely bad example and displays the barbarity of the Chinese people, something they try so hard to hide from the eyes of the world.

The result of the match was not the main reason for these violent emotions. Even if there was dissatisfaction with the "hand of God" decision which gave Japan its second goal, Japan's victory is undisputed. The real reason for the riots is the historical hatred caused by the Sino-Japanese War 60 years ago. This hatred has been manipulated by Chinese officials and the media under their control to periodically rouse Chinese nationalism and anti-Japanese sentiment. Now, that same hatred has made Chinese fans incapable of accepting the loss of the Asian Cup to Japan.

Now Japan has some idea of the hostility that China is capable of -- a hostility of which Taiwan has borne the brunt for over half a century. China has insisted that Taiwan is a part of its territory and continues to increase its verbal and military threats against this country. This country has shown nothing but goodwill in return -- not challenging the "one China" principle, but allowing Taiwanese businessmen to invest in China and trying to establish the three links across the Strait as soon as possible.

China, on the other hand, not only sneers at this, but continues to insist that Taiwan belongs to China. It has set out a timetable for attack, threatening to mobilize its troops if Taiwan continues to postpone unification.

In fact, when it comes to China's wider ambitions for power, the football riots in Beijing are merely the tip of the iceberg. Following Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's (李顯龍) visit to Taiwan, Beijing immediately penalized Singapore, virtually suspending all official relations and postponed free trade negotiations. Singapore's leaders have always enjoyed good relations with Beijing in the past, and even notified Beijing prior to the visit. Regardless, they were not to be spared.

China is currently mobilizing its academics and media to promote the "northeastern development project," which aims at claiming what used to be the kingdom of Koguryo as its own. The South Korean foreign ministry has strongly protested this distortion of history, pointing out that Koguryo is intimately connected with the origin of the Korean people and is of the utmost importance to the Korean sense of identity. They have requested that China change its position on the issue, but Beijing has pushed responsibility for this down to regional governments and has refused South Korea's requests. China is creating a historical construct to substantiate claims to sovereignty over the Korean Peninsula that it may some day seek to realize. This is the ultimate aim of the "northeastern development project."

China's actions in the South China Sea have also led to anxiety among southeast Asian nations. Apart from its arms buildup, it has led the movement towards an ASEAN ten-plus-three alliance. China is increasing its influence through southeast Asia and the Pacific to counteract US influence there. The Pacific Ocean is already the front line in a "Cold War" between China and the US.

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