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    Wednesday, February 02, 2005

    Tyrants of Beijing and their Apologists Continue to Blame Japan for Sino-Japanese Tensions: PRC has unhealthy fixation on Yasukuni Shrine

    Paper dated 02 February 2005

    Today, I had the opportunity to read an excerpt of a paper written by Wenran Jiang, an associate professor of political science at the University of Alberta. The paper concerns the political relations between Japan and the Peoples' Republic of China (PRC). The perspective is interesting. I detect some pro-PRC bias on the part of the author, but to be fair, this could be just an attempt to faithfully render the situation from a PRC point of view. However, Jiang states that "Some even attribute the rising negative attitude of the Japanese toward China as a consequence of the Chinese behavior. However, a closer look at China's Japan policy in the past few years reveals quite a different picture." This suggests to me that the author's actual position is that the PRC is not the antagonist in the current Sino-Japanese relationship. This seems, also to be the official position of the state-controlled newspapers coming out of the PRC.

    The thing that bugs me the most about the PRC's position in this matter is their fixation on Japan's Yasukuni Shrine. This shrine was built to honor the spirits of all the Japanese who died in World War II. Japan's Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, has made a habit of visiting the shrine since he was elected in 2001. Because this shrine also honors dead war criminals (a subset of 'Japanese who died in WWII'), Koizumi's visits draw "strong protest from China and other Asian countries." The PRC is highly offended saying that this shows that Japan's government is glorifying Japan's militaristic past and condoning the actions of war criminals. Critics (presumably pro-PRC) argue that "A nation that fails to acknowledge its darkest chapter is a nation that cannot be trusted. A French-German reconciliation model can work for China and Japan only if the Japanese deal with their past as thoroughly in their soul-searching as the Germans did. And they warn that history, if forgotten, is doomed to repeat itself." "In his press conference, Premier Wen explicitly referred to "Japanese leaders' repeated Yasukuni visits" as the key issue preventing mutual leadership visits in the past three years." Hmmm. The 'key issue'. You know, if this were South Korea saying such things, I would give them more weight, but for the PRC (or pro-PRC sympathizers) to make such statements is downright hypocritical. But more on that later.

    Jiang's paper also notes an increased distrust of Japan by ordinary citizens of the PRC and a similar rise in mistrust of the PRC by ordinary Japanese. China is actually feigning alarm that Japan might actually regard them as a threat. "First circulated in right-wing opinion magazines but now acquiring semi-official acceptance, China is regarded as a threat comparable to that of North Korea." And why shouldn't they be regarded as such? The PRC has publicly stated its intention to crush Taiwan militarily should they declare independence. To make their position stronger, and to draw a line in the sand, they have written a new anti-secession law that would make it illegal for any territory claimed by the PRC to declare independence. Taiwan is such a territory and the PRC has promised to meet any such declaration by Taiwan with overwhelming force of arms. The PRC also claims the Senkaku Islands (called the Diaoyus in Chinese), which have been part of Japanese territory since the 19th century and unclaimed before that. In light of their statements regarding Taiwan, another sovereign Republic, what conclusion should Japan reasonably draw? The PRC's claims that they are not the antagonists in this scenario are ludicrous, and I have no idea why a thinking person would seriously entertain their megalomaniacal delusions.

    Now, back to the PRC's fixation on Japan's Yasukuni Shrine. Yes, Japan has a shrine that honors war criminals along with other war dead. The PRC claims that Koizumi's visits to this shrine are the 'key issue' blocking the progression of Sino-Japanese relations. This only makes sense if one considers the PRC to be a normal state, such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, South Korea, or Taiwan -- you know, countries that actually know what basic human rights are? But the fact is, while the PRC is complaining about human rights abuses that happened under the militaristic regime of Tojo and the Emperor Showa, they are currently engaged in human rights abuses on an egregious scale. The difference between Japan and the PRC is that Japan does not officially endorse human rights abuses. The PRC does. So excuse me if I am a bit dubious when the PRC trots out the pious rhetoric. Such obvious hypocrisy is an insult to my intelligence, and honestly, I can't see why their position is given any credibility. Anyone remember Zhao Ziyang? He was a leader of the Chinese Communist Party, until he was purged for sympathizing with the pro-democracy protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square -- just before the tyrants of Beijing used their military to crush the protests. Since his view was pro-liberty, and against tyranny (the PRC official position), he was purged from the party and held under house arrest until he died in mid January of this year. Or how about Jiang Zongxiu? This 34 year old was arrested by the Public Security Bureau (PSB) for communicating Christian ideas to people. The charge was the "spreading of rumor and disturbing the social order." She was sentenced to 15 days, but was beaten to death by PSB officers. There was no investigation of the circumstances surrounding her death. Or here's a big one: How about the PRC's promise to conquer the free Republic of China (Taiwan)? Ordinarily, we take a dim view of countries that make war on free republics. The point is that the PRC's complaints about Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni Shrine don't hold water when you consider Beijing's current human rights record.


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