Fri, Oct 07, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Beijing creates an enemy in Japan

By Paul Lin 林保華

The first sentence of the first text in the first volume of the Selected Works of Mao Zedong (毛澤東) reads: "Who are our enemies? Who are our friends? This is a question of the first importance for the revolution." This is also the essence of Mao Zedong thought, and over the 80-year history of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), it has focused at different times on different domestic and international "class enemies" in an attempt to include them in its revolution.

China's recent diplomatic and military activities imply that Japan is its current enemy. This is easily seen from the military exercise initiated by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region on Sept. 27. Although China invited military observers from 24 different countries, as well as their military attaches stationed in Beijing, it excluded its close neighbors Japan, South Korea and Mongolia.

The invitations to the included countries were said to be a show of military openness and significant to improving mutual understanding and trust, and to deepening friendship and cooperation. Turning that around, even if the exercise were not directly targeted at the three uninvited countries, Beijing at least seems to hold a grudge against them and does not trust them.

The reason South Korea was not invited was in part because the two countries became enemies when China helped North Korea against the Americans during the Korean War, but also because China didn't want to upset North Korea, which had been invited.

For the time being, Beijing does not treat South Korea as an enemy because it wants to "use barbarians to control barbarians" by setting up an anti-Japanese frontline together with South Korea.

But if the two Koreas were to come to blows, Beijing would show no hesitation in treating the South as the enemy.

Mongolia was left out because the exercise took place in Inner Mongolia. This implied an attempt to prevent the independence of Inner Mongolia, which Mongolia would support, and so it was not appropriate to divulge military secrets to them.

The exclusion of Japan is a highly sensitive issue. The current tension in the Sino-Japanese relationship means that Japan feels that China is becoming a threat, in particular a military threat. If China saw Japan as a friendly nation, or at least wanted to improve relations, it would have invited Japan to show that it feels that there is a need for mutual trust and to eliminate Japanese talk of a Chinese threat.

The fact that Beijing did not want to do this is a clear expression of animosity toward Japan, and possibly even a deliberate provocation.

While there has not been any obvious point of friction between China and South Korea or Mongolia lately, there have been lots of problems in the relationship between China and Japan.

First, in April a series of government-supported anti-Japanese demonstrations took place in China. This is not normal in China, where demonstrations and public gatherings are ordinarily prohibited. Although the authorities later suppressed them, it did so not to distance itself from the anti-Japanese character of the demonstrations, but rather because it was afraid they would get out of control.

Second, the night before Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi (吳儀) was to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in Japan in late May, Wu canceled the meeting and returned home without informing the Japanese. This was provocative behavior.

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