In the phase immediately after the end of the 23rd Winter Olympics in PyeongChang – a site located in South Korea -North Korea’s new global strategy is much more innovative than we can imagine.
In fact only the naivest analysts, who are almost always Westerners, were surprised at Kim Jong-Un’s “opening” for the Winter Games organized in South Korea, which is allied with the United States.
Indeed, the framework of North Korea’s new international relations is rapidly changing, after the presence of Kim Jong-Un’s sister, namely Kim Yo-Jong, at the opening ceremony of the Winter Games and the large North Korean delegation including as many as 550 athletes, cheerleaders, etc.
North Korea has a significant presence in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Eritrea – and this will increase in the future – in addition to the well-known good relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan.
In the future, North Korea will operate in Latin America and Southeast Asia, independently of China but without hampering China’s interests or, in the near future, Russia’s.
The first aspect to analyse in the new distribution of strategic potentials around North Korea is the traditional one represented by Japan.
In the latest documents released by North Korea, the first consideration is addressed to the Japanese Prime Minister,Shinzo Abe, and his Foreign Minister, Kono, who warned the various countries against North Korea when they visited Europe and North America, as well as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, against the dangerous “war designs” of the North Korean regime.
Firstly, there is historical and ethnic tension between the two countries.
It is worth recalling that,after the cease-fire between North and South Korea signed on July 27, 1953 (in fact, it was not a real armistice according to current international standards), there were almost one million Koreans who remained in the Japanese archipelago.
It is also worth recalling that the Korean general negotiated also on behalf of the Chinese, who had participated in the conflict against US and Southern forces in large numbers.
Many of these Koreans living in Japan returned to South Korea, but all the “Zainiki Koreans” suffered marginalization, the loss of Japanese citizenship and harsh exclusion from the labour market.
However, the Koreans who remained in the Land of the Rising Sun and recognized themselves in the new North Korea, created an association, namely the Chongryon, while another association was established, namely the Mindan, that defended the Koreans close to South Korea.
Today, there is ongoing tension between right-wing groups and the Chongryon association, which has long been serving as North Korea’s de facto diplomatic mission to Japan.
Furthermore, also recently, North Korea has repeatedly accused the Japanese government of plotting to eliminate some of Chongryon‘s leaders.
Indeed, this is the core of the issue: the bilateral issue between North Korea and Japan is also an ethno-national issue – a factor that must never be forgotten in North Korea’s current foreign policy.
The protection of the Korean tradition and ethnicity is a prerequisite for the North Korean regime.
Finally, in recent years, the North Korean nuclear issue has come to the fore – a phase in which, from 2007 onwards, Japan has declared itself to be unwilling to supply oil to North Korea because of the age-old issue of “abductions” of Japanese citizens of Korean ethnicity.
And that supply was connected to the Six Party Talks.
Furthermore, in 2009, the already difficult bilateral relations between Japan and North Korea further exacerbated, especially after North Korea’s launch of a space satellite – an action that caused the further extension of Japan’s very harsh economic sanctions against North Korea, as well as the closure to all North Korean exports.
Hence – as number one enemy of North Korea and possible primary US support for a military reaction against its nuclear bases – Japan is seen by North Korea as the number two strategic and military enemy, after the United States, for North Korea’s political and economic survival.
On the other hand, without the United States, the Japanese “Self-Defence Forces” would be useless against a North Korean attack.
For the current strategic juncture against Japan, North Korea wants to emphasize- above all – the current completeness and comprehensiveness of its nuclear weapons and the clear desire to “threaten the US allies”.
Hence, if Japan hits North Korea, the military reaction will be very tough and with a “salvo of nuclear missiles”.
Japan has also a new bilateral military treaty with the United States, just what Prime Minister Abe tried to further strengthen during his visit to Washington in November 2017.
Hence, between the Land of the Rising Sun and the two Koreas, there is again the same strategic, ethnic and cultural conflict that characterized the Japanese invasion of Korea to build the “Co-prosperity Sphere” from 1910 onwards.
In history and geopolitics nothing is created and nothing is destroyed.
Japan has also proposed a new trilateral military alliance with South Korea and the United States. It also wants to buy the US anti-missile system known as THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence) and strengthen its Self-Defence Force.
However, currently the network of InterContinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) leaves Canada and even the European Union without credible defences.
Currently there is no possible rational strategy against North Korean nuclear weapons: hence, – if we accept the policy line of the future necessary military clash – as President Trump hinted – the whole North Korean peninsula will be destabilized and, in all likelihood, China and the Russian Federation may decide to support North Korea.
In spite of everything. Rather than bordering on a country full with US military bases – a South Korea extended also to the current North Korea -Russia would act according to the model of its current operations in Syria.
China would do the same, despite the fact that there has always been bad blood between Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-Un.
Conversely, if Japan deployed its hypothetical future ICBMs – autonomous from the United States – there would be substantial equivalence of set-ups, which would be taken very seriously in North Korea.
In particular, North Korea does not want the nuclear and conventional coupling between the United States, Japan and South Korea.
Alternatively, North Korea can only accept a policy of economic, political and military normalization between the United States, which should officially recognize the North Korean regime, and the other two Asian countries, which should accept the North Korean status quo and rebuild a “normal” political and economic network around Democratic Korea.
Currently, however, the United States thinks that North Korea’s global strategy, even after the Winter Games, is to immediately subjugate South Korea, as well as fully expel the US forces at first from the Korean region and later from Japan, and finally directly threaten the US territory.
In fact some analysts, mainly in Canada and the United States, even think of being able to reactivate the conventional war between the two Koreas, so as to eliminate the North Korean nuclear potential.
Would South Korea agree on it? And would Japan accept it? I seriously doubt.
It is not clear what the logical and strategic connection between the conventional war from South to North Korea and the removal of North Korean missiles is, but this is the current level of US strategic thinking.
Do the experts of US think tanks possibly believe that North Korea would easily be defeated in a conventional conflict, or that, if nuclear weapons were used by South Korea, it would not be able to inflict unbearable damage on the United States and South Korea?
What if the United States and the axis between South Korea and Japan would finally lose the war? It is a possibility not to be ruled out.
Or if North Korea decided to create such a missile escalation as to destroy – in different phases – the Japanese self-defence forces and the North American bases in the Pacific?
It is not the case. North Korea exerts its pressure with nuclear weapons to be recognized internationally and avoid American pressure in its vicinity.
This is the strategic factor from which to start.
Moreover, North Korea uses its nuclear network to rebuild its economy, which, however, is growing and now combines the private sector with the State one.
Hence it is no mere coincidence that Jo Yong Sam, the Director General of North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, has recently underlined that there will be no possible contact between the North Korean and the US delegations to the Winter Olympics.
North Korea wants to reassure South Korea, not others.
Another aspect to note is that North Korea wants negotiations – essentially on an equal footing – between its government and the US one and the warning about the Olympics has exactly this meaning.
North Korea will never be satisfied with back-room dealings, intermediaries or rhapsodic contacts.
It wants the full, official and multilateral opening of negotiations.
In fact, it is worth reiterating that the friendship between the two Koreas, shown during the 23rd Olympics, has nothing to do with the future possible negotiations between North Korea and the United States.
Furthermore, the 2018 North American Nuclear Posture Review speaks of the North Korean “provocative quest” for nuclear weapons and missile systems, while the United States also thinks that in “a few months” North Korea will achieve an effective nuclear strike capacity on the US territory.
Again according to this year’s North American Nuclear Posture Review, North Korea shows “extremely dangerous rhetoric and activities” – hence the US political and military leadership wants a “full, complete, verifiable and irreversible” elimination of the North Korean nuclear program, which is regarded by the United States as the number one threat to international peace.
How can it be eliminated?
I believe that the United States erroneously thinks that the North Korean doctrine is that of the first use of nuclear weapons to support conventional operations.
The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review also believes that North Korea can begin to carry out autonomous major provocations, including precision attacks and missile launches against Japan.
This is not the case. In fact this has never happened, apart from the launches of ICBMs artfully fired into the sea before hitting targets in Japan or in Guam.
If anything, North Korea’s nuclear weapons will be used in possible joint actions on Japan and, above all, on the US territory – but if and only if there is an invasion from the South with the US support.
In that case, North Korea’s nuclear missile operations will certainly be a deterrent, but also fully operational and targeted directly against the US bases in Guam and Japan.
While Japan will be put in a position – with ICBM counterforce actions – not to respond or to scarcely react.
Decoupling between the United States, South Korea and Japan, as well as decoupling between the North Korean peninsula and nearby areas.
Nor is it possible to think of an effective US red nose strategy against North Korea’s nuclear positions.
In other words, and only for the United States, the issue would lie in hitting only some North Korean ICBM and nuclear positions to point to a possible escalation if the situation worsens or, possibly – although this is not clear yet -to generate a “slowdown” of the nuclear and missile programs in North Korea.
A slowdown that has no strategic significance for North Korea.
This is another serious geopolitical mistake: North Korea is in no hurry to use its conventional ABC arsenal, while the US red nose strategy could trigger North Korea’s reaction against the US regional allies, which would be effectively deterred from intervening in a future clash on the Korean peninsula.
Hence, according to the statements of the 2018 North American Nuclear Posture Review, the strategy of imposing “unsustainable costs” on the North Korean regime can have a dual effect, thus creating such waves of strong distaste for the United States in Japan and South Korea as to inhibit the US future reactions.
For North Korea this strategic policy line only means that President Trump wants a limited nuclear war with it.
But can it only be limited and not damage South Korea?
If, as is said, the US nuclear weapons are high-precision ones, they will probably limit the North Korean response. On the contrary, if the confrontation – also at a purely conventional level -involves South Korea, it will experience such an internal opposition and a political and military crisis as to endanger its very existence.
Does the United States want this?
Obviously North Korea also claims that its nuclear system has been designed to protect the country for “over a hundred years”, but are we sure that the US intelligence services really know where to hit or analytically know the geography of hidden and underground sites? I seriously doubt it.
Perhaps, the United States can further strengthen economic sanctions – the harshest ones so far – against North Korea, as was indeed announced by President Trump on January 24 last.
The sanctions do not cause much damage to North Korea.
In principle, it manages to avoid its effects by using ships of friendly or third countries, from Africa, the Caribbean, and Hong Kong, for its trade.
Ships that often change their names.
However, as President Trumps says, if sanctions have no effect, we will “move on to a second phase”.
It could be the already seen, but disastrous red nose effect -a childish resource that could only aggravate the situation.
Or the United States could think of a conventional operation from the South, by putting in the middle – as possible blackmail for the North – just the territory of South Korea. An ally, or am I wrong?
Hence, a clear improvement of reactions between the two Koreas is necessary for North Koreans, against the possibility of an exacerbation of the real or foreseen US operations against North Korea.
This is the sense of Kim Jong Un’s behaviour before and during the 23rd Winter Olympics.
However, there would be a further clear and simple solution: to resume the negotiations of the Six Party Talks, perhaps with a new composition of Western countries, and open negotiations between the United States and North Korea for mutual diplomatic recognition, as well as start a negotiation also for reducing conventional forces in both Koreas and wait (since it will come) for a statement in this regard by Kim Jong Un.
In fact, any nuclear war scenario would be self-destructive and ineffective.
Quad Infrastructure Diplomacy: An Attempt to Resist the Belt and Road Initiative
Over the years, the competition between the great powers in the dual space of the Indian and Pacific Oceans has been rapidly increasing. In the face of the aggravation of relations between the PRC and the United States, the defence dimension of the rivalry between the two contenders for global leadership traditionally comes to the forefront. However, in today’s context, the parties will most likely not engage in military action for the strengthening of their dominance in the region, but they will try to achieve the goals by expanding of economic influence. In this context, along with the well-known trade wars, there is an infrastructure rivalry in the region, which is enforced on Beijing by Washington and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad).
The role of Infrastructure in Indian and Pacific Oceans’ countries
The countries of Asia traditionally drawing the attention of the world community due to the high rates of economic, technological, and social development. In less than three decades, their per capita income has increased by 74%, millions of people have been lifted out of poverty, as well as a growing middle class has emerged in the region. All this became possible due to the multilateral cooperation institutionalization and the integration of the economies of the Indo-Pacific. However, the strengthening of trade and economic ties and the future prosperity of Asia largely depends on the infrastructure (ports, highways and railways, airports, pipelines, etc.), which contributes to a more active movement of goods on a regional and global scale. Moreover, back in 2009, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) published a report according to which collective investments in infrastructure in the amount of US$8 trillion will be required to maintain rapid economic growth in Asian countries.
The most prominent infrastructure initiative in recent years is the «Belt and Road Initiative» (BRI), which was launched by China’s leader Xi Jinping in 2013. The BRI helped to fill numerous infrastructure gaps, but the United States and its partners increasingly paid attention to the geostrategic aspect of China’s actions. It’s no secret that the Belt and Road plays an important role in the development and integration of China’s provinces with neighboring countries. However, with the growing number of countries participating in the BRI, as well as the strengthening of China’s influence on a regional and global scale, criticism of the strategic tools for expanding Beijing’s economic influence gradually increased. The Belt and Road has faced a number of critical remarks, including those related to accusations of purposely involving the regional countries in the so-called «debt traps». Regardless of the degree of truthfulness or study of the issue, from year to year, media reports have contributed to the building of a contradictory attitude to China’s BRI among the residents, experts, and political elites all over the world.
Moreover, as soon as Donald Trump became the U.S. President in early 2017, Washington modified the nature of its policy towards China to greater confrontation. This trend has become a direct expression of the intensified great powers’ rivalry and their struggle for hegemony in the Indo-Pacific, as well as a motivation for the revival of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), which includes the United States, Australia, India and Japan. However, the interaction of the Quad has long been built on the basis of defence.
This trend continues nowadays, as evidenced by the frequent exercises and the growing Quad naval presence in the Indo-Pacific but in 2021 the Quad countries expanded their range of issues on a multilateral basis. Now the agenda includes vaccine diplomacy (providing 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines to Indo-Pacific countries, climate change, technological cooperation, maritime security, cybersecurity, and external development assistance. According to Kurt Campbell, Indo-Pacific policy coordinator at the National Security Council, Washington is looking to convene an in-person fall summit of leaders of the Quad countries with a focus on infrastructure in the face of the challenge from China.
Quadrilateral infrastructure diplomacy as the continuing vector of the Trump’s administration
The infrastructure agenda also became an important part of the last summit of the G7 countries’ leaders, during which the parties expressed their willingness to establish a BRI counterpart called Build Back Better World (B3W). In total, there are 22 mentions of infrastructure in the final G7 Summit Communiqué. Even despite the traditionally restrained position of India, which took the time to «study the specifics of the proposal», infrastructure diplomacy of Quad is becoming a new area of geostrategic competition in the Indo-Pacific.
There’s one exception: the activities on the infrastructure track are not a new trend of U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration, but a continuation of the foreign policy vector set during the presidency of Donald Trump. It was he who turned Sino-U.S. rivalry into a geo-economic level. Back in 2017, the Foreign Ministers of the Quad countries stated the need for high-quality infrastructure development in order to ensure freedom and openness of sea routes, as well as improve intra-regional ties. In 2018, MoU was signed between the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia, aimed at implementing major infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific. Moreover, the Quad countries raised the question of the BRI countries’ growing debt during their official meeting in Singapore.
It was clear that the Belt and Road Initiative is perceived by the Quad countries as the main factor in expanding the economic and political influence of the People’s Republic of China, as well as China’s influence of the domestic political processes in the countries of Indo-Pacific. At the same time, the combination of economic and defence rivalry enforced on Beijing by Washington, as well as Quad’s efforts to build a balance of power in the region actually indicates the explicit anti-China nature of the Quad.
In this case, it’s important to note that each of the Quad countries has its own levers of influence, which they can combine in infrastructure competition with Beijing. For example, in 2015, in response to the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative and the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) by China, Japan made the Partnership for Quality Infrastructure (PQI). The United States, in turn, announced the infrastructure project Blue Dot Network (BDN), as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia established a new Partnerships for Infrastructure (P4I). All these initiatives are united by a commitment to inclusive economic growth, «quality infrastructure», climate change, disaster response, and social development. The capitalization of the Japanese, American and Australian initiatives is US $110 billion (US$50 billion from Japan and over US$50 from the Asian Development Bank), US$30-60 million, and US$383 thousand (including access to US$4 billion of foreign aid and $US2 billion from the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific), respectively. Given the ongoing discussions about debt traps, the emphasis on «high-quality infrastructure» may give special features to the initiatives of the Quad but even the total amount of funding will not be able to compete with the US$770 billion investments already made in 138 countries of the world and announced by China.
Anyway, Quad is stepping up its infrastructure diplomacy in at least three areas, including Southeast Asia, Oceania, and the Indian Ocean. For example, Australia, Germany and Switzerland have already allocated US$13 million to the Mekong River Commission For Sustainable Development (MRC) to assist Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and, Vietnam «to respond to pressing challenges while safeguarding the ecological function of the Mekong River and improving people’s livelihoods».At the same time, Australia signed US$300 million MoU with Papua New Guinea, aimed at the ports reconstruction in the major state of Oceania (the ports of Vanimo, Kimbe, Motukea, Lorengau, Oro Bay, Daru, Lae, etc.). It is important to highlight that the increasing economic and infrastructural presence of China in the countries of Oceania, energize Australia’s policy in the South Pacific, which is a traditional zone of influence of Canberra. At the same time, the expansion of Australia’s aid and investment to the broader Indo-Pacific is due to the commitment of the current Australian government to the U.S. foreign policy.
In turn, the reaction of the Southeast Asian countries to the intensification of Quad infrastructure diplomacy will be more restrained. According to the latest Pew Research Center survey, the most unfavourable view of China is in the United States (76%), Canada (73%), Germany (71%), Japan (88%), Australia (78%), and South Korea (77%), while in Singapore — the only country representing ASEAN in the survey — the percentage of unfavourable views on China is at a low level (34%). Moreover, considering the aspects of infrastructure diplomacy in the region, we should definitely refer to the survey of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) of the political elites of the region «Powers, Norms, and Institutions: The Future of the Indo-Pacific from a Southeast Asia Perspective», published in 2020. Despite the intentional exclusion of Russia from the survey, it approximately reflects the trends in the Indo-Pacific countries at the present stage. Thus, as a result of the survey, American experts revealed that the political elites of Southeast Asia positively assess China’s activities in the field of infrastructure development, which has brought tangible benefits to most Southeast Asian countries.
China is actively reacting to verbal attacks from the United States and Quad. The infrastructure agenda was no exception, but China responded by modernizing its global Belt and Road Initiative. In response to criticism about the involvement of the countries in debt traps, Beijing has developed a new Foreign Policy White Paper «China’s International Development Cooperation in the New Era». The document was published in early 2021. According to the provisions of the new White Paper, China will pay closer attention to the process of implementing projects within the aid framework, take an active part in evaluating projects in order to monitor their quality, maintain an appropriate level of confidence in its projects to China, as well as conduct bilateral consultations to identify difficulties with debt repayment and make sure that partners do not fall into a debt trap. It’s possible that the new vision of the PRC will appear especially quickly in countries where the Quad will primarily try to implement their infrastructure projects.
China is the first country in the region, which pays significant attention to the issues of large-scale infrastructure development. Moreover, Beijing has a number of advantages over its opponent — Quad. First, the Belt and Road initiative is more structured and aimed at intensifying trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation with neighboring countries, while the emerging Quad infrastructure agenda is «dispersed» among numerous individual initiatives, doesn’t have the same level of stability as the BRI, and even after 3.5 years of building the agenda is considered through the prism of expectations.
Second, China’s initiative is aimed at a single infrastructure connection between the PRC and the rest of the world and acts as a potential basis for the intensification of global trade in the future. At the same time, today’s projects of the Quad are of a “sporadic» nature and can’t contribute to the infrastructure linkage between Europe, Africa, South and Southeast Asia on a global scale.
Third, China can already offer the Belt and Road members not only logistics infrastructure but also the opportunities in the field of green energy. At the end of 2019, China produced about a third of the world’s solar energy and retained a leading position in the number of wind turbines. Within the foreseeable future, the Quad countries, and especially the United States, will have to compete with China even in the field of the climate agenda, which is so close to the new administration of the U.S. President Joe Biden.
Finally, during his recent speech on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), PRC’s Leader Xi Jinping confidently declared the great revival of the Chinese nation, its contribution to the progress of human civilization, and its readiness to build a new world, which undoubtedly indicates China’s decisiveness to respond to challenges to its address, including from the Quad.
The ongoing transformation of the regional architecture in the Indo-Pacific, both in the defence and economic areas, will be an important aspect in the post-pandemic era. China has repeatedly stated about the «covered» Quad activities to deterrence Chinese policy in the region, but the expansion of the Quad’s agenda by infrastructure diplomacy allows us to speak about the evident vector of the Quad strategy against the PRC.
However, nowadays the Quad countries had been left behind. China already has the world’s most numerous land forces, the largest navy, as well as an ambitious global Belt and Road initiative that includes almost 140 countries and a capitalization approaching US$1 trillion. Of course, Quad is moving towards the institutionalization of its infrastructure cooperation and the potential expansion of the number of participating countries to the Quad Plus format. However, to reach China’s achievements for the period 2013-2021, the new alliance will need at least a decade.
At the same time, the rivalry of the Belt and Road with the Quad’s infrastructure initiative will help the countries of the region to diversify their infrastructure ties but will make their choice even more difficult, since it will primarily be regarded as support for the foreign policy vision of one of the parties, and not a pragmatic estimate of economic benefits. All this makes the regional environment in the Indo-Pacific increasingly complex and forces middle powers and smaller countries to adapt to new geostrategic realities.
From our partner International Affairs
Bushido Spirit Resurrected? Japan publicly bared its swords against China
Recently, Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso declared that Japan will join forces with the US to “protect Taiwan.” There has been a lot of turmoil, but even though the US directly announced that it will follow the “One China policy,” Japan has not given up its secret intentions. Japan’s new “Defense White Paper,” which was just approved, not only continued to link the US, but also displayed greater animosity toward China.
The Japanese government just finished the 2021 version of the “Defense White Paper,” according to the Global Times, but both the cover and the substance of the white paper are full of “provocative” meaning. The first is the front cover. According to the image released by Japanese media, the cover of Japan’s new “Defense White Paper” is an ink drawing of a warrior on horseback. According to a spokesperson for Japan’s Ministry of Defense, the horse samurai on the cover represents the Japanese Self-Defense Force’s commitment to defend Japan. However, after seeing it, some Japanese netizens said that it was “extremely powerful in fighting spirit.”
From a content standpoint, the white paper keeps the substance of advocating “China menace,” talking about China’s military might, aircraft carriers, Diaoyu Islands, and so on, and also includes the significance of “Taiwan stability” for the first time. A new chapter on Sino-US ties is also included in the white paper. According to the Associated Press, the United States is expanding its assistance for the Taiwan region, while China is increasing its military actions in the region. This necessitates Japan paying attention to it with a “crisis mindset.”
Japan has recently grown more daring and rampant, thanks to a warlike cover and material that provokes China and is linked to the US. Japan has recently bared its swords against China on several occasions.
Not only did Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga take the lead in referring to the Taiwan region as a “country,” but after meeting US President Biden, he issued a joint statement referring to the Taiwan region, and tried his best to exaggerate maritime issues such as the East China Sea and the South China Sea, and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, Deputy Defense Mizuho, and Deputy Defense Mizuho. It has all made inappropriate statements on Taiwan and publicly attacked the “One China Principle.”
After China clearly voiced its disapproval, Japan not only refused to be constrained, but actively increased its antagonism toward China. Do they truly believe China is simple to provoke? The tensions between China and Japan will undoubtedly worsen as a result of Japan’s publishing of this white paper. Although Japan has the bravery to provoke, it lacks the guts to initiate an armed war with China. After all, even the United States, on which they have traditionally counted, would not dare.
It is simple to employ force against China, and if the Japanese Self-Defense Force want to fight the People’s Liberation Army, it is preferable for them to be prepared for any catastrophic outcomes. Furthermore, China has long been Japan’s most important commercial partner. Even with Japan’s sluggish economy, they should be wary of challenging China. If they refuse to examine this, China may let them face the consequences of economics and trade.
Furthermore, the US has declared unequivocally that it will pursue the “One China Policy” and has intimated that it will not “protect Taiwan” with Japan. The stance of the United States demonstrates that, despite Japan’s determination to constrain China on the Taiwan problem and invitation to the United States to join in “safeguarding Taiwan and defending Japan,” the United States is hesitant to offer such refuge to Japan. As a result, Japan should be clear about its own place in the heart of the United States and attach itself to the United States, although it may be beaten by the United States again in the end.
In reaction to this event, the Hong Kong media stated that Japan should focus on making friends and generating money rather than intervening in Taiwan’s affairs, saying that “provoking Beijing is a fool’s errand.” As a result, if Japan continues to challenge China, they will be exposed as a total fool. And how good will a fool do in a game between countries?
Hong Kong Issues & the Impact on China’s Domestic Politics
Hong Kong after years under British colony was handed over to China after the leash period was over and China being the governing state swore that it will protect the uniqueness of Hong Kong and let it function under its established capitalist system under “one state, two system” policy for the period of 50 years. These 50 years ensure Hong Kong to enjoy the freedom under the China security Umbrella. In contrast to China, the Hong Kong political system consist of multiple parties. Some of these political parties fall under the Pro-democratic camp as they supports the positive reforms in democracy. The other camp is of Pro-establishment, they are known for their support for the mainland China as they consist of basically people from the business sector. In the Hong Kong the Pro-Business supporter or pro establishment are known to be more of the dominant group because of their relation with the China but they have less support of the voter in contrast to the Pro-democratic camp.
Though in the wake of the recent Issues and the conflict with the mainland China it seems that the promises that were made at the time of handover are just fading away. Recently China decided to take some bold steps as it decided to intrude and intervene in the political system practiced In the Hong Kong which seems to a crackdown by Mainland China against its opposition. These audacious step of China triggered the massive protest in the Hong Kong driving international attention and Condemnation. What prompted and highlighted the situation more was when China in 2020 passed a national security bill and implemented an extremely comprehensive definitions for crimes such as terrorism, subversion, secession, and collusion with external powers. This bill was said to be controversial as it was a strain for the Hong Kong to establish itself as a full democracy. China also further accelerated the situation by arresting many pro-democracy activist and lawmakers which were protesting against the bill. What factors lead China take such steps was when the political groups in Hong Kong became more radical and formed Anti-Beijing parties threating the China Position and its control over the Hong Kong? Student and youngster took the street to protest for the establishment of the political system that is more democratic in nature, starting to call themselves Hong Kong Nationals rather than identifying themselves as Chinese National. Several of these groups separated in 2020, as Beijing cracked down on political opposition. This all threaten the Chinese position and control over the Hong Kong and its political setup. These steps by Mainland China have hushed many Hong Kong citizens who was fighting for democracy and encouraged others to abandon their lifestyle and escape the city.
If we see the motivation of the China Communist Party after consolidating power was to ensure and invest on the stability, CCP does everything and take every measure they have to in order to preserve the Stability of the Country so for this purpose most of the spending by the party was for the stability that is on the police system, training centers and national defense system that ensure the preservance of stability internally. If we study the CCP history, the power tenure of Xi Jinxing was clearly marked with the same preservance of stability as well as consolidation of power. He did it by benefitting those who were loyal to his leadership for example the pro-business man group in Hong Kong or Pro establishment camp. He sidelined those who were in the opposition as he did with the Pro-democratic wing that were protesting in the Hong Kong. China while introducing the National Security bill right after the massive protest did fuel the situation but it is also clear that China was somehow successful in inflaming the nationalism among people and pitting it against those who ever criticizing in and out of the country. China used the coincidental and the inflamed nationalism for its own benefit. Xi Jinxing handling of situation by doing massive arrest and crack downs on the opposition clearly reflects that regardless CCP and the XI jinxing knowing that such move will prove to be disastrous either seen from the diplomatic, geopolitical of economic lenses still go for it. It shows that the leaders only cared about the political requirements and reinforce inner control ignoring the damages it can have on the geopolitical or the economic situation of the country. All over in the history it had been debated that one day Chinese leadership might implement an aggressive foreign policy or even go for a war just for the sake to distract the public and international attention from their domestic issues. Hong Kong offered that very opportunity that could benefit the Chinese leadership, but without the risks and costs of a war. So I must say the situation handled by the Xi Jinxing was merely motivation but the thirst for consolidating power over Hong Kong rather than benefitting either of the mainland China or Hong Kong.
This situation had also impacted the internal politics of the China both diplomatically as well as economically. Diplomatic in a sense that the world had witnessed the massive protest in Hong Kong and a little later China decided to implement the National security Bill just gathered the Attention of the supranational actors and countries. Due to the Pandemic and its origination from China, it was exposed to the world and all the things happening in China was keenly observed. In such a scenario taking such rigid steps brought the world Attention not in the favor of the Country. Admits the Pandemic as well as the crackdown many countries including USA start to reinvent their policies for China. It was a great chance for the Rivals of China to hit it where it hurts. As Hong Kong served as a great technological hub for the China, deteriorating situation and implementation of such broad definition of terrorism compel many business to close down or relocate themselves thus negatively impacting the already crumbling economy due to pandemic. For example the head office of New York Times announced its relocation to Seoul amidst the deteriorating situation in the Hong Kong. Other than that many technological firms relocated themselves as there were facing restriction and censorship in their activities from China. This happened due to the constant threat of arrest if they did not comply with the demands and the instruction given by the authorities. So Hong Kong issue and the handling of it by the Chinese Government did have many repercussion for the domestic politics of the China. If China keep following on this step and keep seeing Hong through thorough the Nationalist perspective it will Sabotage China Fight for freedom at the larger scale and Hong Kong will time to time rise up again to mold the domestic narrative build by the China and to break its monopoly, which will be a constant threat to China.
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