Fri, Apr 13, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Same old tune, still off-key

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's (溫家寶) trip to Japan and his landmark speech to the Diet yesterday offered a tantalizing glimpse of what smooth relations between Beijing and Tokyo might look like.

Unfortunately, beyond the glib speeches and photo-op smiles, little of substance emerged. This is because speeches and diplomatic posturing alone cannot solve the disputes between the two regional powerhouses over attitudes toward Japan's invasion of China in the 1930s, Beijing's increasing military buildup and concerns about how to utilize energy resources in the East China Sea.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signaled his intent to seek friendlier relations with China by traveling to Beijing immediately after assuming the post last October.

Certainly, friendlier relations are welcome, given the unreasonable way in which China has sought to smother questions about its militarization, its reliance on hypernationalism and its refusal to democratize by focusing on Japan's military aggression in the first half of the 20th century.

"The Chinese people suffered calamity during the war of invasion launched by Japan," Wen said in his speech to the Diet. "We sincerely hope that Japan will manifest this stance and promise in practical actions."

Of course, it has been pointed out before that the Chinese Communist Party has few lessons to offer anyone about being peace-loving and non-aggressive.

It was, after all, the People's Republic of China (PRC) that invaded Tibet in 1949; it was People's Liberation Army (PLA) "volunteers" that Beijing sent to war against South Korea and the UN in 1950; it was an attack on a mountain patrol by PRC forces in 1962 that set off a border war with India; it was the PRC that fought armed clashes with the Soviet Union in 1969; and in 1979, the PLA finally learned circumspection after the bloody debacle that marked China's invasion of Vietnam.

Need we mention the millions of Chinese who died in the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward? Can we talk about the thousands that perished in the Tiananmen Square Massacre? Do we dare point out the tens of thousands who are tortured, imprisoned and executed by the regime in Beijing?

So it is with little comfort that one hears Wen speak the words: "I can take personal responsibility in telling you that China holds up the banner of peaceful development."

From our perspective, the "banner of peaceful development" looks like a death shroud, and the hands clasping it look like the claws of desperate animals.

"We will strive with all our might to achieve peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue, but we will never tolerate Taiwan independence," Wen said. "We hope that Japan can understand the highly sensitive nature of the Taiwan issue, abide by its pledges and handle the issue prudently."

Yes, Mr. Premier, we in Taiwan also hope that the issue is handled prudently. By Beijing. We hope that everyone can understand the "highly sensitive nature" of the issue.

But we also hope that China does not keep its promises, which have ranged from using nuclear weapons against US cities to thwart intervention, to invading this peaceful, prosperous nation by the year 2020.

So enjoy your trip to Tokyo, Mr. Wen. Do all you can to nullify the animosity that exists between some parts of your government and some in Japan's.

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