China-ROK anti-Japanese campaign threatens to bring regional instability
China’s intention to drive a wedge into cooperative ties among Japan, the United States and South Korea by wooing Seoul to its side has become more clear than ever.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has visited Seoul for talks with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, and the two leaders confirmed their nations’ “firm opposition” to the development of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula in connection with their policies toward North Korea.
It was the first time that a top Chinese leader has visited South Korea ahead of North Korea, a traditional friend of the communist state. Xi played up the impression that China was placing importance on South Korea and that the two nations were forging a cooperative relationship.
In an article he contributed to South Korean newspapers just before his visit, Xi said it was essential for the two nations to take joint steps for the security of Asia. The proposal is based on his “Asian security concept,” in which “Asian security must be protected by Asian people.” It is a clear indication that China is trying to exclude the United States from the security framework of Asia.
Japan, the United States and Southeast Asian nations are sharply criticizing China for its unilateral attempts to change the status quo in Asia, which have increasingly isolated the nation. Given the situation, Bejing apparently wants to gain Seoul’s cooperation in creating a China-led Asian order through strengthened relations with South Korea, whose economy increasingly depends on that of China.
But a joint statement merely said the two nations will regularly hold high-level strategic dialogue on security and diplomatic issues. As South Korea naturally sought to avoid causing cracks in its relations with its ally, the United States, Xi’s diplomatic strategy was not fruitful.
As for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank that Xi is proposing, the joint statement only said the two nations will continue talks on the matter. China will not easily realize its ambitions to lead efforts to build a financial order in Asia to counter the Asian Development Bank, which is led by Japan and the United States.
Above all, Japan should be alarmed by the fact that China and South Korea agreed to conduct joint research on materials related to so-called comfort women as spelled out in a supplementary note to their joint statement.
China has already submitted an application to register materials related to comfort women with UNESCO’s Memory of the World. South Korea is also preparing to make a similar application.
Of serious concern is the fact that China and South Korea are expanding their joint anti-Japanese campaigns by using historical issues—which they have interpreted for their own convenience—in their efforts to sway international opinion to their sides.
During his speech at Seoul University, Xi called on the South Korean people to join anti-Japanese campaigns by saying, “Japanese militarists carried out barbarous wars of aggression against China and Korea.”
Park was cautious about China’s maneuver to scuttle ties among Japan, the United States and South Korea in the areas of security and finance, but actively responded to China’s calls to bash Japan over historical issues.
Park apparently intends to use her anti-Japanese stance to buoy her approval rating, which has dropped due mainly to her administration’s poor handling of the sinking of a ferry in April. Park’s irresponsible move in becoming closer to China has been met with unveiled expressions of concern from the United States.
This is a good time for Park to rethink how important coopera-tive ties are among Japan, the United States and South Korea.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 5, 2014)