Sun, Apr 02, 2017 - Page 6 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: Playing the game by different rules

There has been an angry backlash in China following the US’ deployment of its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea. It is to be stationed at a golf course owned by the South Korean Lotte Group.

Many Chinese tourists have chosen to boycott South Korea and some South Korean entertainers and artists have also been caught in the brouhaha. It goes without saying that Beijing is trying to pile pressure on South Korea’s next president.

Former Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy minister Wang Yingfan (王英凡) last week said that while China understands that South Korea needs to bolster its autonomous defense capability, there are many other US-produced anti-ballistic missile systems that could counter the threat from North Korea.

Wang also said that there is an ulterior motive at play: In any future conflict between China and the US, THAAD would give Washington the upper hand.

Beijing’s stance on THAAD is naked self-interest. In fact, this has been the hallmark of Chinese diplomacy: a contemporary version of the Celestial Empire.

China’s behavior toward its neighbors regarding sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea is telling. Despite protests from nations with competing sovereignty claims, Beijing has aggressively pushed ahead with its plan to gain supremacy over the South China Sea by reclaiming land, beefing up military installations and using its navy to display its military strength.

Why is China doing this? As the first country to militarize the region, if the situation destabilizes, it would have an advantage over its rival claimants.

Beijing ignores warnings from other nations when it is in regards to things that it deems beneficial to itself. For eight years, former US president Barack Obama’s administration adopted a passive stance on the South China Sea issue. This allowed Beijing to repeatedly feign innocence while secretly forging ahead with its militarization plan.

China’s behavior toward Japan is no different. Beijing does not talk about Mao Zedong’s (毛澤東) Great Leap Forward or the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, yet constantly reminds Japan of the Nanjing Massacre to ensure Japanese remain guilt-stricken.

Japan could choose to stand by and watch as China sails its aircraft carrier through the Pacific Ocean, but this does not seem to be Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s style.

Abe’s government has passed new legislation and amended the interpretation of the Japanese constitution to recognize the right to collective self-defense, while a second Izumo-class helicopter destroyer, the JS Kaga, is now in active service.

The Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association — Japan’s de facto embassy in Taipei — this year changed its name, while Japanese Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Jiro Akama on Saturday last week made an official visit to Taiwan. All of this demonstrates that Abe’s previously passive strategic position has moved toward realignment.

In regards to the US, US President Donald Trump accepted a congratulatory telephone call from President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) after winning the US presidential election last year — a significant break with convention that caught China’s leaders off guard.

Trump has also publicly questioned the “one China” policy, and in a subsequent telephone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) — at Xi’s request — Trump agreed to honor “our [the US’] one China policy.” He deliberately declined to say “China’s ‘one China’ principle.”

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