“The Enemy of My Enemy…” China, the USA, and Europe in Late 2020.

                             by David Parmer / Tokyo


The often-repeated phrase in its entirety is: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

But in late 2020, when it comes to China-VS-USA and Europe in the middle, it seems that there are no friends to be found for any of the participants. Whatever way you draw the triangle, “friendship” is not one of the components.

In this article we will take a look at the relationship among the three countries and see how the dynamics as they now stand spell only disengagement in the short term and even conflict in the long term despite historical and long-standing mutual interests.

Finally, how is China losing the battle for mind-share, not only worldwide, but particularly in Europe?

 Europe Puts European Interests Over American Interests and Goes Its Own Way

  1. Huawei Situation

Background: Huawei, one of the top 3 mobile phone manufacturers has, since May 2019 been the subject of crippling US sanctions which have significantly impacted its business. More than just a sideshow to the ongoing US-China trade war, the US sanctions have impacted global procurement not only in consumer products but also negatively affected IT networking. The US complaint about Huawei focused on three issues:

  • Cyber security
  • Links to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)
  • State sponsorship of Huawei

After a series of extensions the Huawei ban has come into full effect in 2020. The company has admitted that the sanctions are taking a major bite out of its business, but at the same time has found some temporary work-arounds in its mobile phone business. Huawei uses the Android system, but Google is now prohibited from working with Huawei. Huawei ships Android phones without the Google applications, which makes the phones potentially less attractive. Huawei is trying to court developers to its platform in hopes of increasing its appeal to consumers. Recently the company has come out with the Harmony OS which it will start using with certain devices, but still use Android for phones. Some say it is all a matter of time before Huawei Harmony becomes their default OS for all devices. (2021?)

As for the business-to-business side (B to B) of Huawei, the company operates in 170 countries worldwide. As the rollout of 5G technology takes place worldwide, Huawei is at stage-center in the US-China trade disagreement and sanctions. And the US has/is putting enormous pressure on the Europeans to exclude Huawei from their 5G upgrades. So far, the UK has decided to exclude Huawei.

There has been no stampede among the Europeans to get behind the US and the UK on this issue. However, Sweden, Spain, Austria, and Hungary have not excluded Huawei. France has ruled out a total ban on Huawei and Germany is sitting on the fence. For many countries, excluding Huawei is not only a political issue, but a technical one as well: many countries have legacy Huawei equipment, and switching suppliers to non-Chinese suppliers or local suppliers is a real headache. German’s decision, when it does come, will probably clarify the issue for many Europeans. Which countries will finally line up with the US, UK and Australia on the Huawei ban remains to be seen, but many countries are certainly feeling the heat generated by the US-China rivalry.

  1. The JCPOA or “Iran Deal”

 The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) was an agreement between Iran and six other countries including China, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom as well as Germany and the European Union. The agreement called for Iran to curtail enrichment of uranium and permit on-site inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. In exchange for this Iran would have sanctions by the European Union, United Nations and the United States lifted. There was also the matter of some Iranian Ian funds being released.

The agreement went into effect in January 2016 and Iran was found to be in compliance with the agreement as a result of several subsequent on-site inspections. In May 2018 US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the JCPOA citing hidden Iranian nuclear programs that were not reported in the past.

While the US withdrawal was not a fatal blow to the JCPOA, it did create serious problems. If the Trump administration assumed that the parties to the agreement would simply walk away, they were mistaken. The Europeans and the Chinese and the Russians did not walk away from the deal, but rather tried to keep it alive by all means possible.

The Europeans even came up with a barter scheme whereby Iran could exchange its oil for goods as well as other ways to assist Iran in the face of American sanctions. The Europeans have tried to keep the JCPOA on “life support” and keep the agreement intact, much to the annoyance of the Trump administration and the Netanyahu administration in Israel.

On September 21, 2020 Secretary Pompeo announced that the US was re-imposing sanctions on Iran under the “snapback” provisions of the JCPOA. Earlier in the summer, President Donald Trump had announced this action to the consternation of the remaining JCPOA participants including Iran. Since the US was no longer a member of the agreement, it could not possibly call for “snapback.” But that is what the Trump administration did. And proceeded to re-impose sanctions. However the parties to the agreement, particularly the Europeans soundly rejected the legality of the move and refused to support the re-imposed sanctions. China and Russia went along with the Europeans and Iran.

The lack of solidarity with the US on the JCPOA is another case where the Europeans have acted in their own way and their own interests in dealing with a traditional and long time ally. These days, many aspects of the “special relationship” seem to be water under the bridge in light of the nationalistic, “America First” policies of the Trump administration.

  1. Europe and NATO’s Article 5

In 1945 Nazi fascism has just been defeated and most of Europe was in ashes. No sooner had one threat been removed than another one sprang up. The Soviet Union and America faced off in what was to become known as the Cold War. Russia had imposed its own brand of communism on Eastern Europe and this block of states stood behind what Winston Churchill called an “iron curtain.”

To counter the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe and the threat of further Soviet expansion, 12 countries banded together in 1949 to form the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The purpose for their association was collective defense as outlined in Article 5 of the treaty signed in Washington. Simply put an attack on one country or its representatives or interests would be considered an attack on all, and all would have to respond. The Soviets came up with their own version of NATO six years later when they established the Warsaw Pact in 1955. Collective defense as outlined in Article 5 was not invoked until 2001 when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked by Saudi terrorists using hijacked airliners.

For more than 70 years the alliance has held firm. What is distressing is a shift in attitudes across Europe. A 2020 Pew Research Center found that 50% said that their country should not honor Article 5 if another member country were attacked by Russia. Only 38% said that their country should abide by their Article 5 commitment. Despite this, the report found that Europeans generally had a positive impression of NATO.

There has been talk of a European Army to replace NATO. Harsh criticism was leveled against NATO by French President Emmanuel Macron who, in 2019, called the organization “brain dead.”

Other leaders like Angela Merkel who stated that there is still value for the Europeans in NATO participation. This comes on the back of constant harping by US President Donald Trump for European allies to increase their defense spending.

After 70 years, Europeans have mixed feelings about the function and existence of NATO and about honoring their Article 5 obligations. How things would change in the face of some unambiguous Russian aggression in the near future remains to be seen.

Europe Sees Its Own Self Interest in Supporting America and its Allies.

 In at least two major ways areas, i.e. participation in in NATO and participation in the Indo-Pacific strategy, Europe has taken the pro-US, pro West strategy that would be expected of it.

Europe and NATO

The evaluation by NATO of its own performance over 70 years differs from the Pew Research Report in that NATO not only sees itself in favorable light, but also sees itself as having achievements of note during its first 70 years.

Seventy years ago, NATO’s founding treaty was signed in Washington D.C. Today, our Alliance is the strongest in history, guaranteeing the freedom of our almost one billion citizens, the security of our territory, and the protection of our values, including democracy, individual liberty, human rights, and the rule of law. We reaffirm the enduring transatlantic bond between Europe and North America, our adherence to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and our bedrock commitment enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty that an attack against one Ally should be considered an attack against us all. We are determined to improve the balance of sharing the costs and responsibilities of our indivisible security. 
(NATO Statement on the occasion of NATO’s 70th Anniversary).

The threat of Russian aggression for many NATO members is as real as it was in 1949. This has brought new members and new associations recently, particularly with the Nordic nations that live under the shadow of the Russian bear. The same goes for the Baltic republics of Latvia Lithuania and Estonia. Among themselves Nordic nations have banded together for military cooperation in logistics and procurement and inter-operability.

As noted in the last line of the NATO statement the countries involved are aware of their cost-sharing obligations even without the constant reminders, bordering on harassment, made by US President Donald Trump.

  1. Europeans and the Indo Pacific

As late there has been a pivot toward the US Indo-Pacific strategy by the Europeans and a distancing themselves from China. Both France and Germany have begun see their interests lying not just in their local area, but half a world away in the vast Indo-Pacific region.

In particular, Germany sets the example and aligns with the US and regional nations including Japan and Korea in calling for an open and free Indo-Pacific.

 Europe Sides With China

Europe has many common interests with China and has acted accordingly. Europeans and Chinese access each other’s markets, and Germany, for example, has had a long and profitable economic relationship with the PRC, particularly in the area of automobile manufacturing. Europe also stands to benefit by both the overland and maritime branches of China’s Belt and Road scheme.

As noted above, France, Germany, the UK, and the EU have stood firm with China and Russia regarding the JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal. This has been even in the face of strong pressure from the Trump administration which unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018.

On August 14, 2020, the UN Security Council failed to support the US move to extend the arms embargo against Iran. US traditional allies (the E3) Germany, France and the UK abstained. This was a stunning defeat for the US and its policy of maximum pressure against Iran. The Trump administration pursues a policy of “America First” and distains globalization and the value of international organizations.

As noted earlier, President Trump himself harasses the Europeans publicly about their financial obligations to NATO in addition to his expressed distain for diplomacy and international cooperation. So it should be no wonder that when the US wants the E3 to fall in line with its Iran policy at the United Nations that the Europeans sit on their hands. 

In fact, it might be in the best interest of the region and the world if the Iran arms embargo were continued, but a bullying form of leadership (that threatens sanctions even on its own allies) can only result in quiet resentment that shows itself in a lack of support and solidarity when support support and solidarity are called for.

Europe and China have acknowledged interests in both the global economy and in dealing with climate change. These common interests continue despite the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and its strident America First campaign. These common interests can be leveraged by China to maintain some of its “soft power appeal” seriously damaged by the Hong Kong and human rights issues.

Where Europe Does Not Side With China

Europe going its own way with regard to China is pretty much the top story of mid-to-late 2020. It seems that the romance with China, if there ever was one, is rapidly fading for the Europeans.

Many of the complaints that the Europeans have about China are the same complaints that the Americans have. However, as we have seen, this does not immediately make them allied in a common opposition to China.

Europe’s complaints with China leading to a disillusion with the PRC focus on human rights and China’s adoption of the national security law in Hong Kong and the situation with China’s Uyghur minority in Xinjiang. China has not made its case on the international stage to support its actions in Hong Kong, and has been branded as destroying or not living up to the promises it made regarding One Country Two Systems when Hong Kong returned to Chinese control in 1997.

China’s Massive Failure to Communicate

China has not responded to criticism of its actions to restore and maintain order in Hong Kong.

It could have emphasized that it relied on the government of the Hong Kong SAR to handle the crisis and did not send in the People’s Liberation Army. Instead it chose to focus on its opposition to any kind of independence or secession which was seen as the real threat by Beijing.

This lack of defense of its own position lead the PRC to be seen and labeled as an oppressor of Hong Kong democracy, and a destroyer of the 1997 agreement. 

The fact that local council elections were held at the time of the protests and that anti-Beijing candidates swept the election, and the election was let stand by the government has not been fully reported as an example of Hong Kong style democracy at work.

Coupled with this is China’s handling of its Uyghur minority in Xinjiang. China has never really explained clearly what the situation is in Xinjiang and what course of action it is pursuing with this minority

By treating both Hong Kong and the Uyghur situation as internal affairs it has let itself be portrayed as an oppressor and human rights violator worldwide. . China’s lack of an effective and believable explanation has led these perceptions to be seen as indisputable fact.

This massive failure by the PRC to communicate its side of the story has surely been a contributing factor in European disillusionment with China after a long period of productive engagement.

A Lack of Level Playing Field and the Indo-Pacific

The second major point of contention with China among Europeans is the concept of the “level playing field.” The perception is that European companies have a tougher time competing with Chinese entities because of government support which gives the Chinese side an unfair advantage. Add to this the accusation of forced technology transfer and you have some disgruntled trading partners and investors.

The human rights issue coupled with the lack of level playing field adds to the European’s disillusionment with China.

China’s claims and actions in the South China Sea adds another layer to the mix. As a result the Europeans are beginning to take an interest in the Indo-Pacific region and the US policy in the Indo- Pacific. While the Europeans are not ready to join Australia and the US in an alliance, they are pivoting to the idea that an “open and free Indo-Pacific” is in their self-interest. France began this shift and now Germany, long aligned with China at least economically, has began its own pivot.

Conclusion: Opportunities for China in an Evolving Geopolitical Order

China rising should be welcomed around the world; the Sick Man of Asia has become the Prosperous Man of Asia and is in a position to share its vision of the new world order with competitors and friends alike. Yet China’s actions, whether domestically or internationally are viewed around the world with suspicion.

The Belt and Road initiative which has the potential to bring prosperity to an incredible number of people in many regions around the world is viewed with suspicion at best, and its achievements are ignored.

China has the right to pursue Xi Jinping’s vision of a moderately prosperous society by mid-century, but it also needs to win friends and influence people along the way. Certainly, in the case of Europe, China should have trading partners willing to participate in the New Silk Road and prosper therefrom.

China needs to do a serious “self criticism” and find out what it has done and is doing to alienate so many potential allies and friends around the world. Soft power that does not make friends and create a balance among nations is not any power at all.

The United States, The People’s Republic of China, and Europe should be able to find areas of cooperation and coordination while at the same time remaining competitors and pursuing their own self-interests. Friends? Enemies? Partners? Competitors? Each bloc must decide what is best for its people and best for the greater global community of nations.

Photo: Paul Hudson via flickr







Europe Between The US and China.

                      by Philippe Valdois RSA

When asked about Europe’s position regarding the US-China confrontation, more questions than answers came to my mind. Can we see a consensus emerging, and as multilateral institutions and rules are coming under attack around the world, will it be possible for European countries to tune up their violins? Another major issue concerns the fear of coercion by superpowers. It could divide, or unite European countries. And what about the fear of war? Considering how complex the nature of this confrontation was, this essay would quickly become a review of sorts calling out for the opinion of a number of experts, in economics, in finances, in AI, in IT, in security, in diplomacy or in the military. There is however one central issue rarely debated as it should be, the digital economy, that I would like to introduce first as example. If we hear Washington criticizing China under the guise of protecting national security, the trade battle is in fact more about who will control the digital economy. 

I will then leave the other issues to be sorted out by experts and examine instead from a larger perspective how fear and incertitudes are amplified on various fronts, for political or economical gains. This might help us understand better how the EU could develop strategies aimed at restoring multilateral alliances and reestablish a better relation of trust with its trade partners, in a world where economic interdependency prevails, regardless of the numerous attacks on the multilateral system I mentioned previously. There isn’t any unique solution to this set of challenges and it is difficult to be optimistic. The European Union, like the ASEAN, is promoting multilateralism and integration, but as such is now facing an existential threat. The Covid-19 has exposed divisions inside those institutions and has offered an opportunity for the US and, beyond politicians’ words and slogans, China, to erode cohesion. The US-China confrontation will make it even more difficult for the EU to maintain a semblance of neutrality. 

Fear of War

The greatest fear of all is the threat of war. I do not subscribe to the theory of the Thucydides Trap. However, looking back at the Soviet-American Cold War that took place between 1962 and 1979, there is no doubt in my mind that the confrontation between China and the U.S. now taking place shows all the attributes of a cold war. If no proxy wars are being waged and if the barbs traded between Washington and Beijing often turn into a debate on the merits of multilateralism, there is not one day when the media do not mention acts of espionage, coercitive mesures taken to ensure that allies will follow in step as economic actions are taken, or false statements used as propaganda tools. 

Willis Sparks offered on Sept. 21, 2020 an eight days timeline under the evocative title US-China: Temperature rising. He mentioned a wide range of initiatives, sanctions and warnings related to and not limited to trade, economics and security. One case even involved the Chinese Union Development Group and a project conducted in Cambodia and associated with Beijing’s Belt and Road project. 

The US administration is not shy in naming the enemy, and it is China. War games and simulations usually involve an unnamed enemy. This is no more the case. Both US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other high-profile members of the US administration have use harsh words directed at China. In fact, naming the enemy while condemning the country’s regime and its strategic ambitions might be one thing, but it is irresponsible in the context of a potential military confrontation with the second economy in the world to call for a change of regime.

Secretary of Defence Mark Esper reiterated Pompeo’s narrative in his speech at RAND Corporation’s Los Angeles office on Sept. 16, 2020. 

China, for example, is exerting its malign influence through its ‘One-Belt, One-Road’ Initiative. This campaign has left weaker nations with crushing debt, forcing them to take their economic relief at the expense of their sovereignty. Additionally, Beijing’s aggression and disregard of its commitments in the South and East China Seas – such as the sinking of a Vietnamese vessel and escorting of Chinese fishing fleets into the exclusive economic zones of Indonesia and the Philippines – are further examples of the Communist Party’s attempts to reshape and undermine the international order that has benefitted nations, large and small. 

He was even more blunt two days later when, on Sept. 18, 2020, according to USNI News he said that “the Navy needed to ensure it was investing in its people, their training and their families so they could be ready to deter or fight China.”

We are reminded of President George W. Bush’s famous words pronounced before the Congress 9 days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks: “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” The current US administration made it clear that its allies would have to choose camps. As Washington multiplies its contacts with Taiwan and tensions intensify, The conduct by France, the United Kingdom and other US allies of freedom of navigation operations, in both the Southern China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, could be construed by Beijing as strong acts of provocation. 

Fear of coercion

Coercion can take milder forms but still create serious dilemmas for the EU as it did with the Iran issue. The US expects European countries to apply its economic sanctions against China. The EU has to walk a tight rope, not exacerbating the tensions or exposing itself to retaliation from China or a mercurial US. Australia, as a geographic neighbor and major trade partner of China, is more exposed than the EU and can offer Bruxelles an example of what the EU could expect in terms of retaliations from China if it was to engage in a war of words with Beijing or align itself with Washington in criticizing China for its response to the pandemic.

Trade could suffer but we see similar issues arising in the supply chains in the IT sector. It is clear that most attacks directed at China are for domestic consumption and that branding has been a constant in Donald Trump’s arsenal. As Brett O’Donnell, a veteran debate coach, commented:

“What makes the President difficult to debate is that he does stuff through branding. He doesn’t make these long-drawn out substantive arguments. … He just sort of brands you to make a point and then hopes it will be filled in after the fact,”

This trait applies to all his dealings, including with foreign dignitaries. Regarding the IT sector, we can see Donald Trump branding Huawei among other Chinese entities as “thieves,” or “a threat to the world,” but this conflict is not about fairness but about who will control the future, and more importantly for the US President, to offer the image of China as an unfair trade partner to show potential voters that he is protecting the US against Chinese aggression. Here too, The EU is in a position of spectator since out of the seven digital technology giants, the FAAAM (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Alphabet and Microsoft), Tencent and Alibaba, none is European. The bloc’s historical defense of privacy in the form of strict rules and penalties makes it wary of any attempts by the Chinese and US governments to collect personal information, directly or indirectly, resulting, for example in the rejection of the EU-US data transfer agreement. 

I mentioned various characteristics of what could be described as a cold war. It is not difficult to conclude that public opinion is already influenced by lies, misleading informations and propaganda. In China, however, the support for the government and distrust towards the US did not need much nudging from the regime to rise in response to Washington’s virulent anti-China campaign, at least when attributing the responsibility of the propagation and even the “creation” of the new coronavirus virus to China. Part of the support from Chinese citizens was based on the perception that Beijing has done a good job in bringing the pandemic under control. The numbers made apparent to them the fact that the US administration campaign had for main objective to deflect domestic public opinion from the White House failures. A recent Pew Research pol found that 78% of Americans thought that the “Chinese government’s initial handling of the coronavirus in Wuhan is a great deal/a fair amount to blame for the global spread of the virus.” It is to be noted that the level of satisfaction of Chinese citizens for their national leaders is higher than for the local ones, which shows that if nationalist propaganda plays a great part in shaping opinion, the average citizen was able to understand where most of the blame lied.

It is to be noted that if the US negative view of China appears extreme regarding China’s response to the Covid-19, most industrialized countries, including in the EU, share this criticism. However, in Negative views of both U.S. and China abound across advanced economies amid COVID-19, Laura Silver, Kat Devlin and Christine Huang analyze the results of a survey of 14 advanced countries that show a lack of confidence in both China and the US. Here are their conclusions:

  1. Most people have unfavorable views of both China and the U.S. – but more see the U.S. favorably.
  2. Most people rate China more positively than the U.S. in its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
  3. Few have confidence in either country’s president – but across much of Western Europe, more have confidence in China’s Xi Jinping.
  4. More see China as the world’s leading economic power than the U.S.

We might be led to believe that China is better positioned than the US under Trump to lead the efforts in reinforcing a multilateral world system. However, other factors are influencing European’s opinion. 

I mentioned Australia and a case of economical retaliation by Beijing in response to Canberra criticizing its policies. China’s authoritarian regime is more and more denounced for its heavy-handed initiatives. In Europe and the New Sino-American Cold War Nicolas Regaud reminds us that the EU has designated in 2019 China as a “rival systémique,” ou systemic rival. Additionally, if the EU is not willing to budge on human rights issues, Nicolas Regaud explains that:

Brussels considers that deep disagreements with Beijing should not prevent it from cooperating with China on global issues such as climate change, refusing the zero-sum game that seems to prevail in Washington. 

However, and here we go back to the question of cohesion among the EU members, Axios revealed on October 6, 2020, that “A high-ranking German official suppressed a sensitive intelligence report in 2018 on China’s growing influence in Germany out of fear it would damage business ties with China.” Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, the writer and expert on China concludes that “German business interests, as well as the country’s top economics official Peter Altmaier, have thus tended to downplay China’s growing human rights violations and security challenges.” This goes against the official position of the EU regarding human rights and shows that, like with the decisions made by individual states regarding the Covid-19, we can expect a lack of cohesion in the bloc. 


We have seen that the confrontation between the US and China is susceptible to generate much damage. Europe cannot align with one of the two superpowers without attracting retaliation by the other. It cannot ignore its own system of values to give way to pragmatism, given a rising authoritarianism and intensifying repression not seen in China since Mao Tzsetung. I suggested that Europe was in a similar situation as the ASEAN with dangerous and exigent neighbors. In answer to the simple question: what can Europe do? I would offer the following perspective.

It is on purpose that I chose to focus this essay on the idea of fear, recognizing that world leaders might be as much in the dark as any average citizen about the future. The growing rejection of “professional” politicians in Europe and elsewhere by the average citizens can be seen in part as the understanding that our leaders don’t know what they are doing. Being on a rudder-less boat on a rough sea with a blind captain can be frightening and the fear of the unknown might be what characterizes the best today’szeitgeist. Leaders might actually be the ones most afraid of the unknown and this again would explain the rise of authoritarianism and ultra-conservatism both in China and the US. Europe, thanks to its diversity is in a unique position to embrace the unknown as described by Frederick Kempe in U.S.-China confrontation is like nothing we’ve seen before. He says about the “epochal enormity” of what’s unfolding:

…It is also new because the U.S. and China, after four decades of wishful collaboration, are now locked in a contest that could define our times. It isn’t a struggle, as the hyperbole would have it, over “world domination,” which no country has ever achieved. But it could have significant impact on “world determination,” influencing whether democracy or autocracy, market capitalism or state capitalism, are the flavors of the future.

It is a unique period as well in that this unfolding contest coincides with the Fourth Industrial Revolution and an era of unprecedented technological change driven by big data, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, bioengineering and so much more.

The European Union will have to adapt to this rapidly evolving reality and be proactive in encouraging reforms in international organizations such as the WTO and the WHO. Facing the rapid evolution of technology, it is vital that codes of conduct and rules be decided if only to alleviate the malaise of the population. There is no better way to encourage cooperation and promote a consensus on global issues such as health and climate change among countries than to promote education and restore the trust in science. I would mention as example space exploration and the Artemis Accords.

What about the November US presidential election? I am also pessimistic. If Joe Biden is elected, he will have to deal with two different agendas, implementing expected reforms in a context of pandemics while dealing with trade and security issues, including those involving China, and repairing the damage done during Trump’s mandate, by restoring trust with US allies, etc. Compromises might help him alleviate criticism from the other side, and this would include maintaining sanctions and adopting a tough position towards Beijing.

Photo: Thijs ter Haar via flickr

Impact of the 2019 Hong Kong Protests on China’s Status Abroad.

                           by Philippe Valdois FRSA


The impact of the 2019 Hong Kong protests on China’s status abroad in general and Hong Kong’s status in particular, with two quarters of negative economic growth rate at the peak of the protests in 2019, cannot be ignored, and with the results of the November local elections showing the discontent of the general population and not only of the street protestors who obtained only concessions for one of their five demands, the situation seems unsustainable. In addition, police forces are being diverted from crime prevention and safety might suffer with the number of foreign visitors dropping. We can, therefore, expect major changes in 2020.  

Although anticipating the possible effects of an armed repression by the People Liberation Army on the Communist Party and its leaders’ image not only abroad but domestically and the fall-out of eventual sanctions implemented by the international community are two key questions, the catch-22 situation Beijing is facing and its dilemma in having to choose an optimal response to the continuing protests are already being abundantly discussed elsewhere. Therefore, although I will later examine the necessity and faisability of a compromise between the two camps, I decided to rephrase the theme of this essay by looking at China’s status from a different perspective. There are indications that the Hong Kong protests are not only a local phenomenon but are also both the symptom and the catalyst of a growing dissatisfaction within a new generation of Chinese abroad, including in South-East Asia and Taiwan. My second observation will be related to the actual status and image of China abroad as a product of a post-Tiananmen shift in government policies. Finally, I do not consider, for various reasons I will expose, that Beijing is facing a “color revolution” in Hong Kong, contrary to a commentary published by the official press agency of the PRC, Xinhua, according to the South China Morning Post. Talking about a revolution is dangerous, history showing us that it implies counter-revolution and could lead to violent repression.

If the protests themselves absolutely need to be addressed, if only to stop the violence affecting tourism and trade, they will however have no long-term major effects on China’s status as long as the true purpose of foreign sanctions against Beijing is exposed and some compromises are made between various actors. The key issue will be to maintain trustworthiness regarding the sustainability of the “one country, two systems” principle, and prevent an escalade involving the new generation of citizens and future leaders, in Taiwan or elsewhere, until 2047. As mentioned previously, and based on those observations, I will finally introduce what I consider the best strategy to deal with the situation and minimize the impact of the protests on China’s status abroad.

Discontent in Hong Kong and abroad and the advent of a new generation

The revendications of Hong Kong residents are as much economical as political and are mostly based on concrete grievances, but overseas Chinese follow attentively the developments in Hong Kong and their relation with Beijing can be ambivalent, but much less so for the older generation, who feels a stronger sense of loyalty towards China than the younger, more critical generation. In fact, as seen in New York, London and other cities around the world, there is a growing trend among young Chinese abroad to demonstrate at the same time in support of Hong Kong and Taiwanese autonomy and to criticize Beijing repressive policies, including the crackdown on ethnic Uyghurs and Tibetans.

I recently had a discussion with a young professional living in South-East Asia. I learned from him about how people from his generation felt about the call for a sense of loyalty to China that their parents and grand-parents responded to more positively. Young Chinese abroad feel they are not getting much in return for their efforts and do not expect much from the regime in the future. Such worries are of course prevalent in Taiwan where the perspective of not seeing the two systems, one country perdure would mean, like for HK residents, losing their autonomy and freedom of expression. There is also in their minds a strong disconnect between what China represents for them in terms of cultural heritage and the regime’s growing assertion that it represents not only the interests of China but is in a way a symbol of China itself, establishing therefore a cult of personality encompassing the Party and its highest rank members and developing a form of ultranationalism that does not resonate in urban, cosmopolitan youth. A February 2019 article written by Chinese President Xi Jinping was untitled “Strengthening the Party’s leadership over the overall rule of law” and reaffirmed the position that “the Party was above everything else” already expressed in the Constitution, as Charlotte Gao explained in The Diplomat. It is difficult therefore for young people not to see that self-preservation at all costs for the Party and its leaders is what matters most for them.

The situation is different on mainland China where access to foreign media and knowledge about the situation in Hong Kong are limited. Most young people there are “incredulous that Hong Kongers are taking to the streets in protest” as Ben Hillman in East Asia Forum explained.

China government’s image now and before

Are the Image and status of China and the Chinese Communist Party abroad changing or susceptible to change because of the protests ? This is a key question. As compared to other problems facing Beijing, Hong Kong protests are but one area of concern among others. China’s image abroad in terms of human rights has not changed since the Tiananmen Square demonstrations and the hardening of the government’s policies. I have already described President Xi Jinping’s February 19, 2019, article. It supported the idea that little had changed since a decade before, when Maria Elena Viggiano described the strengthening of authoritarianism in China after Tiananmen as “resilient authoritarianism”. Not only do those events stay vivid in the memories of both Hong Kong residents and foreigners around the world but they are compounded with the worries associated with the use of Artificial Intelligence and high-tech surveillance tools to monitor Chinese citizens. Orwell’s 1984 is on the mind of many. Another key issue is the use of extensive “reeducation camps” for members of the Uyghur minority. The fact that the same narrative and the same harsh terms such a “criminals and terrorists in cahoots with foreign devils and determined to weaken the motherland by agitating for independence” according to Ben Hillman in East Asia Forum, are being used to describe Hong Kong protestors and dissident Uyghurs with little nuances is worrying and takes us back to wartime and the worst years of the Cultural Revolution. Without saying that Hong Kong protests are inconsequential, I would consider that all those initiatives are already defining China in the eyes of many foreign observers, have been continuing and will continue to do so, regardless of what happens in 2020 in Hong Kong.

Again, looking back again at Tiananmen, we see other similarities with the situation in Hong Kong and a continuity in the way the Party leaders react to protests. In declassified documents from the US National Security Archive, reference is made to item 28 related to the aftermath of the Chinese military crackdown in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. Mentioning Hong Kong, it says that “Locals are worried that Beijing could in the future limit civil rights in Hong Kong by declaring martial law or a state of emergency.” Part of the secret document also give us some hints about the reasons why Beijing has always tried since then to keep a tight leash on Hong Kong.

Two factors have also modified the Chinese government’s attitude towards Hong Kong in recent years. Kerry Brown in East Asia Forum mentions a “much tougher nationalism that has become the dominant tone of the Xi leadership,” and the fact that “China’s decades of rapid growth mean that it is far larger and stronger as an economy and a geopolitical force than anyone ever expected when the handover from British to Chinese sovereignty occurred in 1997.”

If the dynamic has changed between Beijing and Hong Kong, the US administration’s position regarding human rights and the world in general have certainly changed since Tiananmen. If the 30thanniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown gave the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the opportunity to blast on June 4th, 2019 the Chinese government and if on October 15th, 2019 the US Congress passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act in support of the protesters, the State Department also recalled in December its ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote who had harshly criticized the Zambian government’s record on corruption and gay rights. It is therefore doubtful than an administration who shows a lack of support for its career diplomats in this occasion and others would do more than pay lip service to human rights. Why then criticize openly and sanction Beijing in relation with the Hong Kong protests? It is evident that in the context of the Sino-American trade war, demonizing its adversary is a way for Washington to mobilize other countries against Beijing more than anything and make them participate in its strategy of decoupling .

No “revolution” in Hong Kong

A paper from Erica Chenoweth, from Harvard University, Trends in Nonviolent Resistance and State Response: Is Violence Towards Civilian-based Movements on the Rise? quoted by Max Fisher and Amanda Taub in The Interpreter newsletter from the New York times, shows that up to the late 1990 the success rates of protests in the world climbed to 70% but then plummeted to 30% in the mid-2000s. While the number of protests, in particular non-violent is increasing, it seems their effectiveness decreases. Max Fisher and Amanda Taub mention as one factor of inefficiency the fact that “Social media makes protests likelier to start, likelier to balloon in size and likelier to fail.” The problem has to do with lack of commitment and the easiness of mobilizing large numbers without the participants having being involved in long term efforts to organize, strategize, etc. We have here almost the equivalent of a flash mob. In a previous essay, I mentioned the SEALDs movement in Japan. For them and their followers it was an initiation into political activism and will have a long-term effect in that sense. But the law it was opposed to still passed.

More importantly, Max Fisher and Amanda Taub remind us that “governments have learned to co-opt social media, using it to disseminate propaganda, rally its sympathizers or simply spread confusion.” Big budgets, technical facilities and know-how trump any effort by protestors. Internet censorship and monitoring in China is by far more developed than in any other country. And so is repression, with the jailing of journalists and cyber-dissidents. It should be noted that the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission managing internet-related issues is under the leadership of Xi Jinping.

Another factor is the growing polarization the world is experiencing. Revolutions work when all actors of society are involved, but as Max Fisher and Amanda Taub put it: “In Hong Kong, for instance, the movement really is primarily about protecting democracy and the rule of law from Beijing’s encroaching, authoritarian influence. But that movement is driven primarily by middle-class students and professionals who have had their place in society disrupted by changes in the structure of Hong Kong’s economy (for example, a drastic rise in rent prices for people too wealthy to qualify for subsidies) and by rapid immigration from mainland China.”

Which brings me to a common-sense solution that would be for the Hong Kong Executive to try addressing more energetically those specific concerns. On the other hand, in the case of China, as I have shown previously, young Chinese abroad create their own sense of group identity transcending borders. This strong sentiment cannot be ignored. A Taiwanese Chinese, a Hong Kong Chinese or a Singapore Chinese share growing common concerns about their future and the privileges, access to information and freedom of expression they all consider as natural. By law Beijing cannot censor the internet in Hong Kong but monitoring is still an option for the central government. This and arbitrary incarcerations are seen as attempts to encroach upon fundamental liberties, especially if applied systematically.

In addition, according to Erica Chenoweth, “Authoritarian leaders have begun to develop and systematize sophisticated techniques to undermine and thwart nonviolent activists” as “many Russian, Chinese, and Iranian officials increasingly see nonviolent popular uprisings as ‘soft coups’ meant to expand Western influence and interests,” resulting in “joint efforts to develop, systematize, and report on techniques and best practices for containing such threats among Russian, Chinese, Iranian, Venezuelan, Belarussian, Syrian, and other national authorities.”


In view of the protestors’ specific demands, of the quasi impossibility for the protests to propagate into mainland China, of the already damaged status of China on the international scene, of the fact that the Western world and the US in particular will be keen on seizing the opportunity to chastise and berate Beijing in a context of trade war and decoupling, of the extreme risks any violent repression would bring to China in terms of sanctions and ostracization, thus also jeopardizing a possible reunion with Taiwan, I think that Beijing should give some leeway to the Hong Kong Executive to let it implement some political and economic reforms, while foreign countries should abandon their dualist views and support instead the Hong Kong government. The extent of the impact of the Hong Kong protests on the image of China will depend on the response given to an angry young generation. Hong Kong protests are the expression of a passing feeling of frustration and should not be considered as an attempt to destroy the system. Protesters are talking about autonomy and not insurgency. As it is, China’s status abroad could benefit from a gentler approach.

Photo: Johnathan van Smit via flickr

The Future of Hong Kong and One Country, Two Systems.

                                    by David Parmer / Tokyo


For the past half-year the daily and nightly news has featured the ongoing unrest in Hong Kong.

Scenes of peaceful mass protest are followed by those of police response and film of radical elements among the protesters causing extensive and gratuitous property damage to the businesses and infrastructure of Hong Kong in the name of democracy.

Since this situation is ongoing there is no answer as to how it was resolved, for it has not yet been settled to anyone’s satisfaction. Having said that, we will first give a brief background of the situation. Then we will examine how the situation as it is now framed is at an impasse, and examine possible ways forward beyond the dynamic stalemate which characterizes this situation. Finally, we will look at one very important aspect that is on the periphery, but very much connected to the current situation, and that is the question of Taiwan and the possibility of it someday adopting a version of the One Country, Two Systems (OCTS) re-forged in the fire of the 2019 protests.

The Protests

Protest is a fact of life in Hong Kong going all the way back to 1956. The current protests, growing out of the proposal and withdrawal of the Fugitive Offenders Law (extradition law) are calling for “democracy” neglecting the fact that there have been more than 17 major protests over the years, and almost countless minor protests.

Were there no “democracy” in Hong Kong, protests like the 2014 Umbrella Movement and the current ongoing and extensive protests against the Fugitive Offenders Law would not be possible. Put simply: protest is almost a way of life in Hong Kong as exhibited by its frequent and vibrant occurrence, and it is often supported by tens of thousands of Hong Kongers. This is clear evidence of the existence of democracy in Hong Kong.

As far back as 2010 there have been calls for universal suffrage, or the direct election of officials.

While universal suffrage may be an ongoing issue for some, and a key part of the present protests, its absence alone can not be considered a lack of democratic avenues for political expression as the right to protest itself and the holding of fair and democratic elections are intact and in full use. (This can be seen by the pan-Democrat camp winning a massive victory over pro-Beijing candidates in local 2019 elections where there were no allegations of fraud or vote rigging or any other irregularities.)


Causes for the current protests can be directly related to the proposed extradition bill of 2019 put forward by the Hong Kong government and its brief life and eventual withdrawal.

Underlying this is the common perception that Hong Kong’s freedoms are being slowly eroded and Beijing’s influence is growing and growing. This influence is seen as a malign factor and not a benign one by many people. Another factor said to be fueling the unrest is the sense of hopelessness among young people regarding buying a home or apartment or getting public housing in a reasonable length of time. (It is reported that the wait for public housing is in excess of 5 years.)

It is not only the perceived erosion of freedom and growing influence by Beijing that is at stake, but also a fundamental and pervasive distrust of the PRC itself among a large segment of Hong Kong’s population. The rendition of 5 booksellers to the Mainland in 2015 and the continuation of the incident into 2016 did nothing to increase trust of the Beijing government among Hong Kongers.

What’s more, friction between Mainlanders and the people of Hong Kong is ongoing. This can most easily be seen in the issue of “parallel traders” where individuals buy goods in Hong Kong and sell them in the Mainland for a profit. Hong Kongers claim that this causes shortages of goods as well as social disruption.

Surveys show that a very high percentage of people in Taiwan do not see themselves as part of China but rather see themselves belonging to a country called “Taiwan.”

This same attitude appears to be pervasive among many people in Hong Kong. They seem to see themselves as citizens of a small, but independent country like Vatican City, Monaco or Lichtenstein.

While a unique product of history and circumstance, Hong Kong is not an independent country, rather it is a territory of China that was seized by the British in the 1840s and administered by the British for just over 150 years. The fact is that Hong Kong is part of China and always has been.

Now, both parties are faced with the re-integration of Hong Kong into greater China in such a way that acknowledges the unique history and culture of Hong Kong and at the same time leverages the rule of law and level playing field set up by the British resulting in vast economic advantage to both Hong Kong and to the Mainland. An attempt to build on and preserve these opportunities was the creation of the One Country, Two Systems (OCTS) scheme.

And just as a space vehicle is subject to extreme forces in the early stages of its journey, or an undersea vessel must withstand massive crushing forces when operating at depth, so too must the OCTS find a way to function during periods of extreme stress and pressure such as those that are now taking place.

Protests–Five Demands and Stalemate

As of December 2019 protests continue but are somewhat scaled down. More protests are scheduled for early 2020.

The situation now can best be described as a stalemate, with neither side making any concessions.

Five demands (and not one less!) have emerged from the protesters camp:

  • Withdrawal of the extradition bill
  • Investigation into alleged police brutality
  • Change of language to exclude the word “riot”
  • The implementation of universal suffrage
  • Amnesty for arrested protesters

A somewhat belated withdrawal of the extradition bill did nothing to mollify protesters. As for the other four demands, no government action has been taken to accomodate them.

As for police brutality, all incidents should be investigated if the public is to maintain trust with the police. There should be a clear distinction made between the use of force and the use of excessive force.

Toning down or modifying the language used to describe protesters should be done, and a clear distinction should be made between peaceful protest and the employment of violence that raises the level from protest to riot. 

Buried in the five demands is the return of the call for universal suffrage, which, on face value, is not likely to get the support of the Hong Kong government, nor the government in Beijing.

In the wake of violence and property damage to public and private venues as well as infrastructure, it is highly unlikely that amnesty will be granted to protesters.

The five demands are made of the Hong Kong government, and by extension, it upstream master, Beijing. The question is first; whom would the government negotiate with in a “leaderless” coalition even if it wanted to? There are supposedly two groups of protesters, violents and moderates. Except for a few familiar faces (e.g. Joshua Wong) there is no one to negotiate with. Or is there?

In the last round of Hong Kong Council elections, protesters, or “pan-Democrats” won seats in 17/18 districts, soundly defeating pro-Beijing candidates. Many saw this as a mandate on the protest movement. While it could be interpreted this way, it could also be a symptom of “protest fatigue.”

A similar phenomenon could be seen recently in British politics where the Labour party was handed a sound defeat and the Conservatives won by a large margin. It could be considered a second vote for LEAVE (the Euro) or it might simply be “Brexit fatigue” where the British people wanted to get on with their lives and have Brexit settled.

Perhaps many people in Hong Kong did the same kind of thing and expressed their opposition to government policies at the ballot box instead of on the street. Maybe many people felt that by voting they had “done their duty” or shown their feelings and now could get back to normal life after a half a year of massive social and economic disruption.

A coalition of “new pan-Democrats” would be someone for the government to negotiate with if negotiation were considered an option by the Lam government and by Beijing.

Moreover, a coalition of new pan-Democrats could first invite, and then distance itself from the violent wing of the protest movement. The next election of a Chief Executive will be held in 2022 and the next Election Committee election will be held in 2021. Negotiations to implement a major change to elections, i.e. bring about universal suffrage could be started immediately.

The government could “ignore” protester demands for an independent inquiry, but conduct an independent inquiry of its own in a way to save face and not “give in” to protester demands. If there were any further “face saving” to be done, the government could say that it was the results at the ballot box during the Council elections and not the protests that brought about change in the OCTS scheme.

 Amending the Basic Law promulgated July 1, 1997 would show Hong Kong and the world that OCTS was in fact a living concept, flexible, and able to respond to new realities not imagined in the Deng Xiaoping era of the 1980s.

The End of All of Hong Kong’s Problems?

Getting at the root of public frustration which resulted in the demonstrations of 2019 would not solve all of Hong Kong’s problems. The question of affordable housing would still be on the table. As a point of irony, it is the capitalistic system in Hong Kong which sets the land prices and prices of home ownership which are such a burden to young people and not the socialist system of the Mainland. Still, some solution to this problem must be aimed at, if nothing else than to give some hope to the young people of Hong Kong.

In a sense, Hong Kong’s “magical time” has passed. With the increase in special economic zones and the rise of second-tier cities the face of China is changing, and Hong Kong does not have the shine it once had. Having said that, Hong Kong is still a key waypoint for the inflow and outflow of capital to China. Stabilization of Hong Kong’s social system could do much to reassure markets and investors and possibly attract new capital to Hong Kong.

A Good Outcome Regarding Taiwan?

Dealing flexibly and creatively with the challenges of 2019 as suggested above (i.e. negotiation, amendment of the Basic Law ) would do much for the PRC’s image and soft power.

In this half year, despite what some might consider considerable provocation (destruction of public property, targeting of Mainland business and individuals, disruption of infrastructure and damage to the economy) Beijing has resisted the use of maximum force, i.e. use of People’s Armed Police or the People’s Liberation Army to deal with the social disruption caused by the ongoing demonstrations.

Strategically it would have been counterproductive to do so as demonstrations are an example of “asymmetric warfare” and are not responsive to massive force. (Although they can certainly be impacted by it.) More importantly, much “soft power” face was gained by not using maximum force and relying on the Hong Kong government to deal with the situation. This could also be interpreted as Beijing’s good faith, patience, and belief in the OCTS scheme.

Why is this important? The answer is simple: Taiwan.

The OCTS scheme was originally designed for Taiwan but implemented in Hong Kong (and Macau). As it now stands, many in Taiwan reject any suggestion that One Country, Two Systems would work there. China considers Taiwan its territory and is determined that it should become part of greater China. There are only two ways that this can happen, either a military intervention or a gradual economic and social integration based on the OCTS scheme. In the mind of the PRC, the situation in Hong Kong and Taiwan are two historical anomalies that must be rectified in the name of China’s sovereignty. A vibrant and dynamic Hong Kong operating under a flexible and democratic OCTS would be a powerful sales point for Beijing when dealing with Taiwan.

A Thorny Problem for Beijing

China has one huge problem that it must settle when dealing with both Hong Kong and Taiwan. And it is a question of the perception of value.

In ancient times Chinese culture was of such power and magnetism that could exert tremendous cultural influence to the peoples surrounding it. Even when China was conquered barbarians and invaders succumbed to the power of Chinese culture in the form or arts, science, philosophy, language, literature, dress etc. China was the dominant culture, and its magnetism decided the outcome.

In the case of Hong Kong and Taiwan due to the historical anomalies mentioned above, both Hong Kong and Taiwan have a culture that is at its root Chinese (language, art, history, cuisine etc.) but each has a culture that is on a timeline that is divergent from the Mainland. In the distant past, the magnetism of mainstream culture would have been the stronger of the cultures and prevailed. These days, this is not so. People in Hong Kong and Taiwan are not swayed by the Mainland culture, rather it seems they feel that their own culture is superior.This is important because they feel that the Mainland has not much to offer them that they don’t already have. Some in China suggest “patriotic education” as a way to correct this, but what is really being discussed is more like indoctrination than education.

China has made unbelievable progress since 1949, rising out of poverty, imperialism, and war to become the second leading economy in the world and a space-faring nation. China needs to frame its progress and its dreams in such a way that it becomes a beacon for those in Hong Kong and Taiwan to aspire to be connected with. China needs to shine so brightly that its culture again calls peoples and nations to participate in its greatness. When this happens, “patriotic education” will not be necessary.


The Hong Kong protests of 2019 can be seen as a period of painful social disruption costing millions in damage and lost income. It can be seen as an indication that One Country, Two Systems doesn’t work and never will. Or it can be seen as a great opportunity to modify One Country Two Systems for the 21st Century to make it more responsive and serve the needs of both the country and the systems until 2047 and beyond. There is only one choice, and this is to deal with this situation using creativity and imagination resulting in positive outcomes for all parties concerned.

Photo: Studio Incendo via flickr






















China’s Belt and Road and the Indo-Pacific.

                            by Philippe Valdois, FRSA

Indo-Pacific and Belt and Road Initiative

In the following essay, I will examine the concerns expressed by the U.S. government in answer to the growing presence of China in the Indo-Pacific, in particular with its Belt and Road Initiative and to what Washington considers Chinese infringements of intellectual property rights. I will consider the validity of those concerns and the possibility that Washington’s reactions are partly motivated by some other factors outside of the usual field of geopolitics. Finally, in the context of a brewing trade conflict, as of mid-August 2018, we will see how the U.S. are engaging into a new strategy to counter Chinese ambitions, quite different from the isolationism advocated by President Donald Trump, while Beijing sets itself apart from the U.S. by focusing as part of its diplomacy with Chinese characteristics on “making contributions to the building of a community with a shared future for humanity.”

The Indo-Pacific as an Area of Increasing Strategic Significance

When looking at world maps, we see the Indo-Pacific encompassing almost two-thirds of the planet. Does it make sense to assign to such a vast zone a similar or greater strategic importance as compared with the Asia-Pacific? I would respond in the affirmative based on various factors. As a side note, the U.S. Navy, as a mobile force active in securing passageways for commercial shipping, has always understood the strategic importance of two communicating oceans. In fact, the area of responsibility of the United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) already encompassed most of the Indian Ocean before it was rebranded from United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) on 30 May 2018. It is true that the majority of the countries West of the Indo-Pacific, including in Africa, do not have a capacity to project into the Indian Ocean. Evidently, the same could also be said of many countries of the Pacific Rim. However, to help us understand why the Indo-Pacific occupies a growing place in discussions about international trade and security, we only have to look at India and China and the growing role they will play in the future in the region. The Australian 2013 Defence White Paper published in 2013 already stated it clearly:

China’s continued rise as a global power, the increasing economic and strategic weight of East Asia and the emergence over time of India as a global power are key trends influencing the Indian Ocean’s development as an area of increasing strategic significance. In aggregate, these trends are shaping the emergence of the Indo-Pacific as a single strategic arc.

Elsewhere in the document, we are told that “Growing trade, investment and energy flows across this broader region are strengthening economic and security interdependencies.” One key word is “interdependencies”. In my opinion, it reflects the reality that only recently and by necessity a U.S. administration focused on bilateral negotiations, or one-on-one “deals” as favored by Donald Trump, started to recognize. There are other factors motivating investments in the region. On the positive side, the regional players, after the devastating 2004 tsunami, discussed ways to respond to catastrophes and improve communications. There has been also talks and initiatives about fighting piracy off Somalia and securing the transportation of Chinese products to Europe with China sending its Navy ships to the region and later opening a base in Djibouti. It seems, therefore, that the U.S. cannot claim it has, with its allies, the monopoly of securing free maritime trade routes. China’s plans to open multiple naval bases close to India, in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, etc., are, however, a matter of concern.

 Growing Power and Influence of China-The Belt and road Initiative

There is no doubt that Beijing is a major player in the Indo-Pacific. As China’s influence grows, concerns are being expressed by other countries, focusing not only on China’s trade ambitions in general and projection of military power in the South China Sea, but more specifically on the Belt and Road initiative (BRI). French medias sometimes translate Belt and Road Initiative as “Nouvelle Route de la Soie” when it should be “Routes” as a variety of development corridors are planned or being established between China, Europe and Africa, including roads, railways and maritime routes with the necessary port infrastructures. We can also mention that Belt refers to the ancient Silk Road and Road to sea lanes including the ancient maritime silk road. It is an ambitious foreign policy launched in 2013 under the name “one belt, one road”.  69 countries have signed up and China is now spending more than $100 billion a year in investments, mainly infrastructure ones. China needs to attain a new level of development and the BRI helps to that effect by serving the country’s economic interests. Both in terms of importations and exportations, better and faster transportation means lower costs and lower prices. If the BRI opens new markets for China, it also helps secure food for delivery to a growing Chinese population. 

Reactions to the BRI and validity of concerns

In an article published on 26 June titled “China’s Belt and Road Initiative paved with risk and red herrings”, the authors explained how common criticisms of the BRI were flawed. However, they point at “empirically supportable objections to the BRI”. Among them are the regional insecurities associated with the projection of military power, both in the South China Sea and in the countries implicated in the BRI eager to see their debts forgiven in exchange for equity in strategic infrastructures control, such as ports and consequent militarization of the region. Another issue is that if the outlines of the initiative are clear, there are no default rules or procedures concerning loans. As the authors say “case-by-case bilateral negotiations with China seem to be the default option” when rules and transparency are most needed with a project on such a large scale.    

The U.S. government tends naturally to focus on the perceived negative aspects of the BRI, but the BRI might have a positive impact on sustainable development and the natural environment as the Guidance on Promoting Green Belt and Road published by the Chinese ministries of Foreign Affairs and Environment in May 2017 shows. Since the beginning of Donald Trump administration, isolationism and the quasi-religious fervor with which the America First movement has been used as a guide for trade policies and environmental policies (with the announcement the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change) have antagonized Washington’s allies. I anticipate therefore that this document will be used in promoting Chinese green technologies in the dozens of countries implicated in the BRI.  

As boycott campaigns targeting foreign products and anti-foreigner protests have shown, Beijing is willing and able to orchestrate such events domestically and put a break to them when and where necessary, relying on contemporary history to exacerbate nationalistic feelings. However, those tactics are not limited to Continental China and its citizens.

As Amy Qin explained in the August 5, 2018 issue of the New York Times online, “China has become increasingly assertive in its efforts to appeal to the vast Chinese diaspora to serve the country’s national interests and gain influence abroad.” She gave us as examples the mobilization of local groups in Western countries in support of Chinese policies regarding Taiwan or Tibet.

Should it be surprising then that countries with an important ethnic Chinese population become suspicious of any attempt by Beijing to promote Chinese identity and culture based on blood, or when Xi Jinping talks about “Chinese sons and daughters at home and abroad” blurring as Amy Qin explained, the distinction between nationality and ethnicity?

If the U.S. is not talking about a fifth column, it is nonetheless increasingly looking for potential spies. Similarly, Donald Trump argues that China is stealing U.S. intellectual properties to justify the opening of a trade war. Fortunately, other less destructive tools are being put to work to counter the growing influence of China in the Indo-Pacific. On the diplomatic front, the U.S. is holding so-called “2+2 meetings” at the Foreign Affairs and Defense minister level with Australia, Japan and India. In addition, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech titled “America’s Indo-Pacific Economic Vision” on 30 July 2018 in Washington in which he announced plans to increase U.S. public and private investments. The $113 million mentioned pale in comparison to the hundred billion of dollars being invested by China as part of its BRI. However, this engagement would serve as a catalyst for more private U.S. investments in the region, which in turn would lead to more clarity and “honesty” regarding contracts and deals than what could be expected from Beijing. It also helps showing other countries that isolationism is not the only policy chosen by Washington. 

In their May 20, 2018 article published in The National Interest “How China Plans to Dominate the Global Economy: Copy America”,  Patrick Mendis and Joey Wang gave us a lesson in history, telling us that “the infringement of intellectual property will fuel economic development” until, in the words of China scholar Frederick Abbott“the country reaches the point where IPR protection becomes economically advantageous to a sufficiently strong set of domestically vested interests.” The authors also reminded us that both the U.S. and Japan went through the same process.

Also, as an observer of American politics and history, I see parallels, in this Trump era, between the deep if not openly expressed fear of the White man to lose his dominant status to expanding minorities, domestically, and the fear of seeing America lose his position in the world, an event or fall that would negate what its citizens had been made to believe under the ideology of American exceptionalism. As we have seen previously, there is also in China a form of exceptionalism instrumentalised by the government in its efforts to rally the support of the Chinese diaspora. However, as the U.S. reacts to fear and a possible loss of status, China is developing a positive long-term strategy of making both its huaqiao citizens abroad and huaren ethnic “sons and daughters” proud and united. If the Chinese initiative might remind us of the MAGA (Make America Great Again) Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, there is no doubt that behind the latest, fear of uncertainty and other negative and divisive feelings are brewing. We also cannot ignore the fact that Donald Trump’s message is addressed to and received as such by less than 50 % of the U.S. population.

From a European humanistic perspective, it is difficult to find any merit in the kind of nationalism expressed by both the Chinese and American powers that be, where exceptionalism, military might and dominance are used a benchmark for greatness. However, Chinese President Xi Jinping, in a major speech on 23 June 2018 clarified China’s major country diplomacy addressing two key themes: “…focusing on realizing Chinese nation’s rejuvenation and promoting human progress, and making contributions to the building of a community with a shared future for humanity.” It is to be seen if the U.S. have been or will be receptive to this long-term vision. However, even if the issues of human rights and “debtbook diplomacy” keep being debated, Europe will see in this effort the recognition by China of the importance of a multipolar, interconnected world, and one more illustration of the position adopted by China both in a phone call to French President Emmanuel Macron in May 2017, concerning the Paris Agreement, and at the Boao Forum for Asia about globalization and free trade in April 2018.

Photo: Chinese freight train from Wuhan to Moscow, Hubei Govt.

An Analysis of the Challenges Facing XiJinping’s “China Dream” Using PEST Methodology.


                            by David Parmer / Tokyo


The 19th National Congress of The Communist Party of China was held from 18-24 October 2017 in the Great Hall of The People in Beijing. Thousands of delegates from all over the country descended on China’s capital to participate in the CPC’s most important event, its 5-year meeting, to assess its performance in the past 5 years and to set out a strategy and vision for the next 5 years.

This meeting’s keynote was a report delivered on behalf of the 18th Congress of the Communist Party of China by the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping. The speech gave a detailed summary of both past performance and future vision.

 Prior to the convening of the meeting, speculation was rife in the world media about what would take place during the 5 days of the meeting, who would move up and who would move down or out. Much talk centered about Mr.Xi’s allies being in the ascendency.

Many analysts commented on Mr. Xi’s consolidation of power and many noted that he was now the most powerful leader in China since Mao Zedong himself. Some wondered if a “cult of personality” would arise around him, and one commentator went so far as to claim that this event was the “coronation of Emperor Xi.” (Time, 24 October 2017 / online edition).

Ignoring this type of speculation, the question then is why has Mr. Xi been so focused on consolidating power, fighting corruption, retiring old cadres and promoting young and capable cadres and reforming the military?

The answer is rather straightforward, and that he is determined to do as much as possible in his time in office to make his vision of the China Dream and the rejuvenation of the nation a reality.


The theme of the Congress is: Remain true to our original aspiration and keep our mission firmly in mind, hold high the banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, strive for the great success of socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, and work tirelessly to realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation (Preamble to Mr. Xi’s report)

As was pointed out by several commentators after the event, Mr. Xi’s vision of the future while containing important points dealing with the rest of the world and China’s relation to it, is really focused internally.

As first glance the achievement of a “moderately prosperous society” would seem to be a key element is his vision, but on closer examination, the completion of national rejuvenation seems to be the real “true North” at which all of China’s compass needles must point according to Mr. Xi’s vision of a greater China.

In this paper we will start by taking a brief look at some of the key points in Mr. Xi’s report to the19th Congress that are central to his vision for a future China up to the middle of this century and beyond.

In the second section we will use a powerful and effective marketing tool or template to examine the challenges and opportunities that face Mr. Xi, the Party, and China itself.

The marketing tool is called a PEST analysis, with the letters standing for Political, Economic, Social, and Technological. Typically, company management at the highest levels uses this tool to plan their long-terms strategy, especially in the field of marketing. PEST analysis shows how the prevailing factors are for or against the organization’s plans.

In the October Mr. Xi has laid out his grand plan for China in front of the 19th Congress of the CPC. The purpose here is not to attempt to suggest whether Mr. Xi’s plan will “succeed” or “fail,” but rather what factors will affect it. We will use the PEST analysis to see where he might be faced with a restraining headwind, or a favorable tailwind, or both at the same time.

         Section One – Xi Jinping’s Vision for China

Mr. Xi’s vision for a moderately prosperous society employing Socialism with Chinese Characteristics to create a New Era.

In Mr. Xi’s report to the 19th Congress consisting of 32,000 characters and lasting for some 3 hours, Mr. Xi first pointed out where progress had been made in the past 5 years. He and then set out his grand vision for China to 2035, 2050 and beyond. These grand goals included:

  • The creation of a moderately prosperous society
  • The continuation of reform and opening up
  • The creation of a world-class military that is fully capable
  • The emergence of China as a global leader
  • The maintenance of “one country, two systems” and the 1992 consensus
  • The continued fight against, and elimination of corruption
  • The creation of a “green China” that opposes global warming
  • The elimination of poverty by 2020
  • The completion of national rejuvenation

A short explanation of each section in Mr. Xi’s own words from his report to the 19th Party Congress:


(A) The creation of a moderately prosperous society

Building on this, our Party then developed the vision that by the time we celebrate our centenary, we will have developed our society into a moderately prosperous one with a stronger economy, greater democracy, more advanced science and education, thriving culture, greater social harmony, and a better quality of life.


(B) The continuation of reform and opening up

We should pursue the Belt and Road Initiative as a priority, give equal emphasis to “bringing in” and “going global, follow the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration, and increase openness and cooperation in building innovation capacity. With these efforts, we hope to make new ground in opening China further through links running eastward and westward, across land and over sea.

(C) The creation of a world-class military that is fully capable

We must fully implement the Party’s thinking on strengthening the military for the new era and the military strategy for new conditions, build a powerful and modernized army, navy, air force, rocket force, and strategic support force, develop strong and efficient joint operations commanding institutions for theater commands, and create a modern combat system with distinctive Chinese characteristics

(D) The emergence of China as a world leader

We will pursue open, innovative, and inclusive development that benefits everyone; boost cross-cultural exchanges characterized by harmony within diversity, inclusiveness, and mutual learning; and cultivate ecosystems based on respect for nature and green development.

(E) The maintenance of “one country, two systems” and the 1992 consensus

We have fully and faithfully implemented the principle of “one country, two systems,” and ensured that the central government exercises its overall jurisdiction over Hong Kong and Macao as mandated by China’s Constitution and the basic laws of the two special administrative regions.

We have upheld the one-China principle and the 1992 Consensus, promoted the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations, strengthened cross-Straits economic and cultural exchanges and cooperation, and held a historic meeting between the leaders of the two sides

(F) The continued fight against, and elimination of corruption

The people resent corruption most; and corruption is the greatest threat our Party faces. We must have the resolve and tenacity to persevere in the never-ending fight against corruption. Only by intensifying efforts to address both the symptoms and root causes of corruption—by making sure that officials are honest, government is clean, and political affairs are handled with integrity—can we avoid history’s cycle of rise and fall and ensure the long-term stability of the Party and the country.

(G) The creation of a “green China” that opposes global warming

We have devoted serious energy to ecological conservation. As a result, the entire Party and the whole country have become more purposeful and active in pursuing green development, and there has been a clear shift away from the tendency to neglect ecological and environmental protection

(H) The elimination of poverty by 2020

We must ensure that by the year 2020, all rural residents living below the current poverty line have been lifted out of poverty, and poverty is eliminated in all poor counties and regions. Poverty alleviation should reach those who truly need it and deliver genuine outcomes.

(I) The completion of national rejuvenation

National rejuvenation has been the greatest dream of the Chinese people since modern times began. At its founding, the Communist Party of China made realizing Communism its highest ideal and its ultimate goal, and shouldered the historic mission of national rejuvenation


Section Two – PEST Analysis of Mr. Xi’s Vision


Mr. Xi’s report contains a myriad of issues and challenges, however the above sections can be considered as the key points of his vision. The next task will be to take a look at these points and see what forces will support or oppose their realization.


                                   POLITICAL FACTORS

                                   Favorable Conditions


From a political standpoint, Mr. Xi has been working on his agenda for the past 5 years. The 19th Party Congress saw a group of new leaders step forward and take their places in the Politburo Standing Committee, and this might be considered the culmination of the beginning of the full implementation of the China Dream. Mr. Xi now has the support he needs for the ambitious agenda he has outlined, and which was foreshadowed in the achievements of his first 5 years including:


  • The launch of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
  • The Belt and Road imitative
  • The ongoing modernization of the PLA
  • The ongoing and vigorous fight against corruption

Few observers fail to comment on the accumulation of power that has taken place in the first 5 years of the Xi administration. However most commentators seem to view this accumulation of power as a matter of personal ambition on Mr. Xi’s part, and not as the basis for his drive to accomplish the goals outlined above.


                                   Unfavorable Conditions


  • Tibet nationalism
  • Uighur nationalism
  • Hong Kong activism
  • Taiwan Independence activism
  • The rise of India to world-power status
  • The continued but diminished US Asian influence


While China is in effect a one-party system, the CPC is not without its opposition. The first of these would be minority opposition in the form of Tibetan and Uighur nationalism. Neither of these problems looks like it will diminish soon. The second form of opposition to the CPC comes in the form of activists in Hong Kong and independence activists in Taiwan. On the latter Mr. Xi has made his policies clear; that China will continue to support the “one country, two systems” policy, and will abide by the 1992 Consensus on Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait. While progress toward a moderately prosperous society with Socialist characteristics will move forward, it will do so in spite of these adverse internal currents.

Internationally, China faces most of the same challenges as the majority of the other countries in the world face, i.e. the threat of terrorism, the march of global warming, and the ever-changing, inter-related global economy.

China also faces some thorny issues with its neighbors. From the Chinese perspective, China is only trying to secure its borders as one facet of national rejuvenation as propounded by President Xi. Moreover, China feels it has given repeated assurances that it does not seek hegemony in the region. However, from the perspective of China’s neighbors, with whom she is in dispute (Japan, Vietnam, Philippines) in the East China Sea and South China Sea, China looms large and is a real threat to their territorial sovereignty.

Two other major political challenges threatening China’s realization of the China dream take the form of its neighbor India and its cross-Pacific rival, the Untied States.

India today could be described, as China once was, i.e. as “a sleeping giant.” India has many, many of its own challenges to overcome until it becomes a moderately prosperous society. With the growth of its economy, infrastructure and military power India will surely become one of China’s main rivals.

Border disputes have flared up over the last 50 years, and will probably continue to do so. From a certain point of view India has suffered repeated humiliations in these confrontations and has had to repeatedly back down or settle for a stalemate at best where the Chinese side held all the cards. When a resurgent India has some real military muscle, it will be another question as to whether India will back down again.

As for the sea, if it can be said that the East and South China seas are a Chinese lake, then all signs point to the potential that the Indian Ocean will become an Indian pond in the not-so-distant future.

Chinese shipping from the Gulf transits the Indian Ocean and enters the Strait of Malacca in Indian-influenced waters. India has already stepped up its patrol and base building in order to cover this vital transit point. Submarine activity is increasing through the East Asian region and the Indian Ocean is no exception.

Nor can China fail to factor in its trans-Pacific rival, the United States in its plans for the future. The United States, somewhat diminished is still the most militarily powerful nation on the planet with the ability to project power anywhere in a timely manner. Moreover, the US has honed its military edge for 16 years fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and supporting counter-terrorism from the Arctic to Africa with its cooperation and training missions.

The United States Navy while it is currently having operating problems is still the mightiest naval force in the world with 19 aircraft carriers to China’s 2

The US has ships, bases and allies in the Asia-Pacific, and there is no indication that this will change its Asia-Pacific strategy in the foreseeable future despite a policy of looking inward and pulling back which seems to be the worldview of the Trump administration. China will have to pursue the China Dream in this century and beyond with its American rival still in place and still strong.


                                Economic Factors

                               Favorable Conditions


“China has entered a new normal in economic development.”


In his opening remarks to the 19th CPC Congress, Mr. Xi outlined the measures taken and challenges ahead for China to move to a “moderately prosperous society.” These include:

  • Promotion of further Internet integration
  • Promotion of new area of growth
  • Supporting additional industries in upgrading
  • Improving the supply chain
  • Encouraging entrepreneurship
  • Cutting excess capacity and cut cost
  • Vigorously continuing to promote opening up
  • Continuing and expand Belt and Road Initiative
  • Opening China’s western regions
  • Empowering free trade zones
  • Making China a country of innovators
  • Pursuing rural revitalization
  • Fostering regional development

Mr. Xi’s “new normal” aims to take China from an economy of fast growth to high-quality development. In the past 5 years a lot of groundwork has ben laid to make this happen, and to make the development goals listed above a reality.

Internationally, as the US retreats, China steps forward. China’s Belt and Road plan already has several parts in place and is moving forward. As with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China is and will continue to get wide support for it visionary approach to its own and the regional and global economy.

China will end the calendar year of 2017 with some good news for its economy; her GDP is expected to come in at 6.8%, a figure higher than targeted. This has exceeded expectations and marked a 7-year high. GDP is estimated at 6.4% for 2018, but the numbers could also be higher in December 2018.

                                 Unfavorable Conditions

Economically, China has some strong headwinds blowing against her as she moves forward. Many of the issues were addressed by Mr. Xi in his opening address, however simply acknowledging and addressing them does not means they are solved.

One of the major problems is China’s increasing debt. It has been reported that debt stands at 234% of GDP. In 2017, Standard & Poor’s downgraded China’s credit rating to A+ because of debt and financial risk.

Other challenges for China are problematic state intervention in the economy, low productivity of State Owned Enterprises (SOE) and continued support of loss-making companies. China also needs to do more to control soaring housing prices. The IMF suggests that China must also speed up reforms and boost consumption. Right now there is a situation of high national savings and low consumption.

It is not all bad news for the giant Chinese economy, but Mr. Xi and his government have their work cut out for them when it comes to the economy moving forward in the next 5 years and beyond.


                                    Social Factors


                                Favorable Conditions



In a normal PEST analysis, the “S” or social component would probably have equal importance with the other three factors. In this study of Xi Jinping’s speech to the 19th Party Congress, however, the social factor is really the most important. This is because while the speech addresses China’s external interests and concerns, it is primarily focused on domestic matters, i.e. creating the Xiaokang, or moderately prosperous society and national rejuvenation.

Mr. Xi’s speech is really about what has been done, and what must be done by all members of the CPC and the Chinese nation. Some of the things that have been done, and must continue to be done include:

  • Maintaining a medium-growth economy
  • Building infrastructure to include highways, ports and airports
  • Continuing to increase the number of legal migrants to cities
  • Continuing to promote democracy and rule of law
  • Improving social security for urban and rural people
  • Continuing to build an ecological society
  • Eliminating poverty and eliminating rural-urban imbalance

The next big target is 2020 with the finishing of the building of a moderately prosperous society and the elimination of poverty. The next phase is from 2020-2035, and the final phase is from 2035-2050 when the socialist modernization of the nation will have been realized. This will complete the rejuvenation of the nation.

Mr. Xi offers planning for the road ahead and calls for all to cooperate in the building and realization of the China Dream.


                                   Unfavorable Factors

The realization of the China Dream is on track and moving forward, but that does not mean that it will not meet adverse conditions before the 2050 target for completion.

Domestically the CPC party center could face opposition from Tibetan and Uighur nationalism. These two ethnic groups must be dealt with properly to prevent both an increased sense of separatism and terrorism. Beijing’s response must be both firm and fair, and these (and other) minorities must feel a sense of inclusion in the Chinese nation and Chinese dream. Hong Kong and Taiwan are also problematic for the central government.

Thus far, Beijing has dealt with Hong Kong skillfully in the 20 years since the former British colony has reverted to Chinese control. Mr. Xi in his speech has reiterated the Party’s commitment to the “one country, two systems” arrangement. The worst-case scenario is a robust opposition movement that would cross some undefined “red line” and ultimately force Beijing’s hand. The best-case scenario is the passage of time where a new generation of young people has a different “China consciousness” and loyalty to greater China.

As for Taiwan, Mr. Xi also reiterated the Party’s commitment to the “1992 Consensus” affirming the one-China policy. He also stated unequivocally that not “Taiwan Independence” movement would be tolerated. The problem with Taiwan is that while the possibility of a growing “China consciousness” is possible in Hong Kong as a solution, it does seem not possible with Taiwan. Polls have repeatedly shown that Taiwan people more and more see themselves as Taiwanese and not Chinese. At present, there seems to be only two solutions to the Taiwan question: toleration or takeover. No third solution is currently on the table. So Taiwan will remain one piece missing from the mosaic of “rejuvenation of the nation.” Until it is “solved” it will be a problem for China and an “incomplete.”

International factors that could slow down the realization of Mr. Xi’s great blueprint would include tensions or open conflict with China’s Russian and Indian neighbors. Also to be considered would be the possibility of unwanted conflict with China’s maritime neighbors including Japan, Viet Nam, the Philippines and the United States. War on the Korean peninsula would also certainly cause a re-thinking of the great timeline forward.

While the above considerations would not derail the China Dream, they could slow it down considerably and force the CPC to adjust its timelines for 2020, 2035 and 2050.


                                         Technological Factors

                                          Favorable Conditions

 Probably the greatest impetus for the development of Chinese technology is not scientific but a commitment to national rejuvenation. In his speech Xi Jinping mentions the Opium War of 1840 which began a century of national humiliation for China. China was poorly armed and no match for the premier military of its day, the British army and navy. China’s complacency in the 18th century left it vulnerable to European powers that had embraced the Industrial Revolution. China had a long, uphill battle to modernize. After 1949 China had not only to reconstruct but also to start to build a livable society.

 Both Deng Xiaoping and Zhou Enliai fully understood that it was science and technology that would move China forward. When Deng went to Japan and saw the technological prowess of the postwar Japanese he was determined to move China forward scientifically and militarily. So began Reform and Opening Up and the development of China’s tech sector. Today China has a robust space program, a space station of its own, a giant program to develop alternative energy, a massive and vibrant Internet infrastructure, and is committed to assuming leadership in the fight against global warming and climate change.


In his speech Mr. Xi states:


Through devoting great energy to implementing the innovation-driven development strategy, we have seen much accomplished toward making China a country of innovators, with major advances made in science and technology, including the successful launch of Tiangong-2 space lab, the commissioning of the deep-sea manned submersible Jiaolong and of the five-hundred-meter aperture spherical telescope (FAST) Tianyan, the launch of the dark matter probe satellite Wukong and the quantum science satellite Mozi, and the test flight of the airliner C919.

Mr. Xi makes it clear that it will be technology that will be the underpinning for the development of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, the completion of the China Dream and the Chinese national rejuvenation.


                                   Unfavorable Conditions

 It is hard to imagine any conditions unfavorable to the development of China technologically. It is unlikely that China will waver in its commitment to excel on the scientific and technological fronts. The target of having basically achieved full development by 2050 will not likely be abandoned. The only real threat would be military conflict with one or several of its potential adversaries or war on the China mainland itself. Either war or planetary disaster seems to be the only forces capable of slowing China’s technological and scientific advance.


Using the PEST analysis of Mr. Xi’s speech we can come to a few common conclusions among the sections. We can see that his consolidation of power is not a move towards personal aggrandizement, but rather the next necessary step to the realization of his vision. The strength of Mr. Xi’s plan for a greater China in the 21st century lies in these factors,

  • Vision
  • Commitment
  • Planning
  • Implementation

Factors that will militate against the China Dream are as mentioned above,

  • Ethnic unrest
  • Hong Kong unrest
  • The Taiwan question
  • Border conflict with neighbors
  • Conflict in the East and South China sea
  • War on the Korean peninsula

If Mr. Xi’s call is heard by the CPC and supported by the Chinese people, then the China Dream, and a fully realized country featuring Socialism with Chinese characteristics will  likely become, despite inevitable setbacks, a reality by 2050.

Photo: Global Times




Dire Straits – Two Very Different Perceptions of Reality on the Future of Taiwan

            David Parmer

The People’s Republic of China and Taiwan are separated by the Taiwan Strait, a body of water 180 km wide that connects the East China Sea with the South China Sea. But the gulf that sets them apart politically is immeasurable, and is widening every day. On the mainland, the PRC has taken a firm position on “One China” policy that seems to be hardening by the month, while Taiwan, thanks to the emergence of constantly and ever-deepening sense of Taiwanese identity, particularly among the younger generation, seems to be simply drifting away. In this article we will take a look at these two positions, and try to imagine where they could lead, and what possible positive outcomes, if any, may be possible.


  1. The Fixed and Unchanging Position of the PRC

What is China’s position on Taiwan? Is there an authoritative and definitive short answer to that question? Yes, there is, and it is supplied by none other than the President of the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Xi Jinping. In his 2014 book, The Governance of China, Mr. Xi states explicitly, emphatically and unequivocally China’s position on the status of Taiwan:

“For more than six decades now, although the two sides have yet to be reunited, we belong to one country and the same nation – a fact that has never changed, nor will ever change in the future. The blood of the Chinese nation flows in every one of us, and ours is forever the soul of the Chinese nation.”

“…the two sides must consolidate and hold fast to our common foundation of the ‘1992 Consensus’ and our opposition to ‘Taiwan independence,’ and be fully aware of the importance of maintaining the one-China framework. Such a foundation is the anchor for cross-Straits relations.”

“As far as any significant political differences between the mainland and Taiwan re concerned, we are willing to conduct consultations with the people of Taiwan based on equality within the one-China framework, and come to reasonable arrangements.”

(Speech delivered on February 18, 2014 when receiving Lien Chan, Honorary Chairman of the Kuomintang of China and his delegation.)

Another unequivocal presentation of the position of the PRC can be found on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China. Under the heading “A policy of ‘one country, two systems’ on Taiwan.” the ministry states:

“Taiwan is a sacred and inseparable part of China’s territory…

In January 1979, Deng Xiaoping advanced the concept of “one country, two systems” and stated that “so long as Taiwan returns to the embrace of the motherland, we will respect the realities and the existing system there.” On September 30, 1981, Ye Jianying, Chairman of the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress, officially put forward a nine-point proposal for bringing about the peaceful reunification of the mainland and Taiwan. He said that “after China is reunified, Taiwan may become a special administrative region. It may enjoy a high degree of autonomy and may keep its military forces. The national government will not intervene in the local affairs of Taiwan.” “Taiwan’s current social and economic systems will remain unchanged, its way of life will not change, and its economic and cultural ties with foreign countries will not change.’ “

Taiwan’s future lies in its reunification with the motherland, and attempt to split China will never be accepted as an alternative. Li Denghui and a small number of people in Taiwan who betray the principle of one China and advocate the creation of “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan” in an attempt to split China are doomed to failure as they will surely run into the firm opposition of the entire Chinese people including the people of Taiwan. To accomplish China’s reunification is the trend of the time and common aspiration of the entire Chinese people across the Taiwan Strait. With the joint efforts of the entire Chinese people including the compatriots in Taiwan, the day will certainly come when China is reunified.”

Here is a third, recent statement of resolve on the part of the PRC. The following exchange is taken from a PRC Ministry of National Defense (MND) press briefing on May 26, 2016 by Senior Colonel Yang Yujun:

Question: Recently, Tsai Ing-wen assumed office as the leader of Taiwan region. In her inaugural speech, she didn’t clearly recognize the 1992 Consensus and acknowledge its core essence. Rumor has it that the PLA is going to hold large-scale military exercises aiming at deterring “Taiwan independence” forces. What is your comment?

Answer: On the question you have raised, like what was said by the head of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on May 20, we are today as determined as ever and more capable to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity. We will resolutely contain any action and attempt by the secessionists for “Taiwan independence“. (Emphasis added)

From the above material we can get a clear and unambiguous understanding of the position of the PRC, the key points being:

  • Taiwan is an inseparable part of Chinese territory
  • The one-China 1992 consensus must be adhered to
  • The PRC will accept no other course of action than re-unification
  • A “one country, two systems” arrangement is possible for Taiwan
  • Any unilateral declaration of Independence will be met with force

Viewed from the standpoint of best practices in negotiations, parties to a negotiation make the best results when they focus on shared interests rather than on strong positional negotiating.

In President Xi’s book, The Governance of China, we can see him hinting at shared interests when he suggests that both the PRC and Taiwan will benefit from better cross-Strait relations and both will share in the prosperity of a resurgent China. However, from the above bullet points we see that the PRC has taken several strong positions that it sees as non-negotiable.

China’s inducements to Taiwan for unification, then, include a share in the prosperity of China, a Hong Kong-style “one country two systems” arrangement, and the satisfaction of final unification with the motherland.

China’s negative inducements include isolation on the international stage by co-opting Taiwan’s few international allies, restrictions on travel and business, and the threat of the use of military force.

  1. The Changed Reality on the Other Taiwan Side of the Strait

                   The Emergence of the Taiwan Identity

On the other side of the Taiwan Strait, in Taipei and throughout the country, perceptions of Taiwan-PRC relations are somewhat different. While the PRC assumes it is dealing with a static entity, i.e. the Republic of China, the situation is changing almost daily. The biggest element is the constant and ever-evolving sense of a Taiwan identity. The existence of the Taiwan identity is not new, and even President Xi Jinping acknowledges it.

In The Governance of China, President. Xi writes:  

“Due to their historical suffering and the distinct social environment in which they have lived, the people of Taiwan have their own mindset. They bear particular historical scars, they are eager to be masters of their own destiny, they cherish their established social systems and way of life, and they wish to live a stable and happy life. Putting ourselves in their place we can full understand their feelings.” (Together Fulfill the Chinese Dream of National Rejuvenation, Feb. 18, 2014).

The PRC, however, does not seem to be aware of the current meaning, extent and implications of the Taiwan identity and how it is changing the equation.

On the mainland, Taiwanese are seen as Chinese, but on the island, the perception is not only more nuanced, but is in constant flux. And this changed perception has profound implications for any discussion of reunification with the mainland.

On May 28, 2016, the Taipei Times reported a poll in which:

More than 80 percent of respondents self-identified as Taiwanese, compared with 8.1 percent who identified themselves as Chinese and 7.6 percent who identified as both in the poll, whose wording asked respondents if they viewed themselves as “Taiwanese,” “Chinese” or had “other thoughts.”

This 80% identification with being Taiwanese can be seen as a major factor in the sweeping victory enjoyed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of Tsai Ing-wen that swept into power both in the presidency and in the legislature in the January 2016 elections. Consistent with this is the assertion made by many observers that voters felt the pan-blue KMT was becoming too close to the PRC, and that the traditionally independence-minded DPP would better represent them.

The article went on to state:

When asked to choose between eventual independence and unification with China, more than 51 percent said they favored independence, while 15 percent favored unification and 25 percent favored maintaining the “status quo.”

(Taiwan Times, May 28, 2016)

                 The Fading of the Kuomintang, KMT

What the election also showed is that the Kuomintang, KMT is morphing into simply another (albeit robust) Taiwan political party, and is no longer a viable government-in-exile. Twenty-first century realpolitik and the voters of Taiwan seemed to have relegated the Republic of China to the history books.

These days, the fiction of the Republic of China, as either the legitimate government of all China, or there being any chance that all China, from Harbin to Hainan, will fall under its dominance, is wearing extremely thin.

During the early stages of the Cold War, American conservatives urged their government to “unleash Chaing Kai-shek” for re-conquest of the mainland. Those days are long gone.

                             The “1992 Consensus”

This being said, how can there be any substance to the “1992 consensus”?

From a certain point of view the “1992 consensus” is an agreement made between the PRC and an entity that is now simply another Taiwan political party. Although not stated explicitly, it may be that the DPP-led Tsai Ing-wen government sees itself as what the Japanese call “dai-san-sha” i.e., a third party, to the “1992 consensus.”

So what purpose does the “1992 consensus” have today? It is a working agreement that gives all parties “breathing room.” It is a face-saving fiction that permits all parties to pursue their interests without forcing a confrontation.

             No Outright Endorsement by Tsai of 1992

Considering the above, is it any wonder that Tsai Ing-wen, in her inaugural speech did not endorse the “1992 consensus outright?

What Tsai did say was informative:

Since 1992, over twenty years of interactions and negotiations across the Strait have enabled and accumulated outcomes which both sides must collectively cherish and sustain; and it is based on such existing realities and political foundations that the stable and peaceful development of the cross-Strait relationship must be continuously promoted.

The new government will conduct cross-Strait affairs in accordance with the Republic of China Constitution, the Act Governing Relations Between the People of Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, and other relevant legislation. The two governing parties across the Strait must set aside the baggage of history, and engage in positive dialogue, for the benefit of the people on both sides.

By existing political foundations, I refer to a number of key elements. The first element is the fact of the 1992 talks between the two institutions representing each side across the Strait (SEF & ARATS), when there was joint acknowledgement of setting aside differences to seek common ground. This is a historical fact. The second element is the existing Republic of China constitutional order. The third element pertains to the outcomes of over twenty years of negotiations and interactions across the Strait. And the fourth relates to the democratic principle and prevalent will of the people of Taiwan.

The question here is while Tsai references the Republic of China, does she believe in it, or is it simply an outmoded framework, an old vehicle that the owner must drive until she can afford to go to the car dealership and purchase a newer model?

                     Maginot-Line Thinking About Taiwan

And here is the point: pundits, journalists and scholars (and it seems even certain sections of the PRC government itself) have focused, with tunnel vision, on the question of Taiwan independence. This is reminiscent of France’s defense against Germany in the early 1940s–the Maginot Line. The Maginot line was a series of fixed defenses facing Germany whose guns could only be operated in one direction. As we know from history, that during the invasion of France, the German Wehrmacht simply went around the Maginot Line.

Likewise, “the experts” are focusing on formal Taiwan Independence, and like the French Republic in the 1940s they are looking the wrong way in a fixed and inflexible manner

Put another way, they are looking for a mechanical event, i.e. the outright declaration of Taiwan independence. What is actually happening is an organic and evolutionary event, the deterioration of the Republic of China (ROC) and the emergence of a country called Taiwan.


                            Taiwan’s Organic Evolution


“History will remember our courage. It will remember that in the year 2016 we took this country in a new direction.” (Tsai Ing-wen, Inaugural Speech)

It is incredible that so many people have read and commented on Tsai Ing-wen’s inaugural speech and simply missed the content by focusing on cross-Strait relations with a magnifying glass. It is as if they willfully refused to hear or understand the contents of her speech.


In that speech, President Tsai called for a new Taiwan society, a 21st century society that addresses current problems and looks to the future. In the speech Tsai listed a number of areas that need attention to move Taiwanese society forward and the solutions that her administration would put in place. What she laid out were a series of measures to make Taiwan more prosperous, more just and more livable for its citizens.

She began by defining the problems faced by Taiwan:

  • Low birthrate
  • Environmental pollution
  • Poor fiscal situation
  • Lack of confidence in the judicial system
  • Inadequate food safety standards
  • Wealth disparity
  • Less than optimal social welfare system
  • Low wages for young people

She then offered a menu of solutions for a 21st century Taiwan:

  • A new model for sustainable development
  • A new “Southbound Policy”
  • Promotion of 5 industries to improve global competitiveness
  • Care for resources and curb pollution
  • Strengthen social security net including pension reform
  • Establish a Truth and Reconciliation commission
  • Promote judicial reform
  • Address regional peace stability and development
  • Manage cross-Strait relations
  • Maintain existing dialogue under the 1992 agreement
  • Proactively participate on the world stage
  • Be a partner for the international community


What the speech outlines is Tsai’s bold plan for a new Taiwan society and a government that is organized to serve its citizens. Will the DPP’s plan be perfectly implemented? Time will tell. What we can grasp from the speech is the direction that Taiwan is heading and its priorities. From the speech it seems that Taiwan’s priorities are:

  • Domestic issues relating to a prosperous and sustainable society
  • Cross-Strait relations with the PRC and the 1992 Consensus
  • Taiwan’s role on the international stage

What is not contained in the speech is any mention at all of Taiwan independence or any “return to the motherland.”

Her speech tells us that Taiwan is looking in many directions, and the view across the Strait is just one of them.

                     Adjusting to the New Reality

 So, quite the opposite of opposing the status quo, the DPP seems quite content to have it continue. As the status quo continues, so does the evolution of Taiwan from being the Republic of China, to simply being a nation called Taiwan. This evolution can neither be slowed down nor stopped under existing conditions. As long as Taiwan and the DPP do not declare formal independence, it looks like China, in the short term, will take no forceful action, such as an invasion of Taiwan.

Let us return to our opening pages where China’s position was spelled out.

  • Taiwan is an inseparable part of Chinese territory
  • The one-China 1992 consensus must be adhered to
  • The PRC will accept no other course of action than re-unification
  • A “one country, two systems” arrangement is possible for Taiwan
  • Any unilateral declaration of Independence will be met with force

If China holds these positions in an inflexible manner, then the question becomes: What can China do, and what will China do?

Supposing that Taiwan does not take any precipitous action, e.g. declaring independence or even promoting independence outright­–which would result in military action on the part of the PRC– what courses of action are open to the PRC?

           When Push Comes to Shove–A Timetable for Return

From the PRC point of view, this situation has dragged on, unresolved, for more than 70 years. The 1992 Consensus and the status quo are just stopgap measures, but they cannot continue forever.

For the PRC, then, the only answer would be a timetable for return. And this timetable could take two forms:

  1. A) A timetable agreed upon by the PRC and ROC which would probably be under the “one country, two systems” arrangement.

(This scenario would be much more likely should the KMT return to power in Taiwan, and there were warming cross Strait relations such as those promoted by the KMT’s President Ma during his term in office.)

  1. B) An unilateral timetable put forward by the People’s Republic with a deadline.

In this scenario, the PRC would claim that a failure to come to the negotiating table on the issue of a timetable for return would be seen as a de-facto declaration of independence by Taiwan. (And actions to curb “Taiwan secession” would be put in motion.)

In the coming years, the DPP might disappoint the voters, be involved in all sorts of scandals, and not deliver on Tsai’s magnificent promises, and consequently be voted out at the next election. This would make Plan A, above possible.

On the other hand, Tsai and the DPP might remain popular, or become even more popular, and be voted in for a second term. In which case, the current stalemate will continue, but as just mentioned, from Beijing’s standpoint, the situation cannot continue forever.

What will it take for China to implement Plan B? Right now China has a lot on her plate including the South China Sea issue, Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Add to this North Korea and China’s slowing and evolving economy. What’s more, the intermittently-friendly Russian bear is always sniffing about on her northern border.

So what would trigger Plan B? The most likely would be a set of circumstances where China’s perceived national interest would call for the immediate return of Taiwan and for which the PRC would be willing to pay the highest price in terms loss of life, national treasure, and negative international reaction.

                               A Better Solution? Plan C

One solution that has been already rejected by the PRC in the case of Tibet, would be an extension of the “one country, two systems” model. If the PRC were to form a Commonwealth of China, or a Chinese EU, and grant economic flexibility and autonomy to Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan in a kind of European Union, it would eliminate the problems it has with those four regions–immediately. It would have four strong allies on its flanks instead of having each of them like a stone in its shoe. Since “return to the motherland” has not been defined in minute detail, it may be the one point where the PRC has a chance to act in its own self-interest in a flexible manner.


This federated-China solution might be the one attractive option that would bring a DPP/ pan Green Taiwan to the table. The PRC can hope for a Plan A (above) and force a Plan B (above) or think outside the box and implement some form of Plan C.

Whatever the choice, it is time that all parties start to look at cross Strait relations in terms of reality and not ideology, sentiment or emotion.


Photo:威翰 陳 via flickr



















                                   Bill Lee











  • 外交的・政治的な圧力


アメリカは、中立立場を守ると言いながら米国は、フィリピンの国連海洋法条約(UNCLOS)の要求のような中国への法的要求を支えている。中国の不参加と国際海洋法裁判所の判決への敏感な反抗は、どれぐらいそういう要求に対して中国の立場の脆弱さを示す。国際世論の空想上の裁判所において 中国のフィリピンのUNCLOSの要求への反応は納得性がないと言っていいでしょう。なぜならまず中国はUNCLOSを批准したので国際海洋法裁判所の判決を受け入れるはずです。以下中国のその判決に対しての反抗についてもっと意見を出すけれどもとにかく元駐米大使柳井俊二のITLOSの裁判官の選択は依怙だしフィリピンがITLOSの裁判官へ賄賂を贈るというような申し立ては不似合いではないかなと思う。今後の中国への法的要求に日米両国は絶対支持する。


中国の海洋領土権の主張に反抗している東南アジアの国々への日米からの支援は当然なことである。米国政府からの金銭的な支援は少ない(「予算のほこり」)が、いうまでもなくアメリカの軍事の存在感はそれを十分埋め合せている。であるにもかかわらず、2015年に米国政府はASEANとの関係は「戦略的パートナーシップ」にアップグレードしてASEAN地域フォーラム(ARF)に強い支持を示している。ARF の優先課題はなんと「信頼醸成」から「積極的な外交」へ移りつつあって中国の海上拡張を念頭に置いてSCSにて「ルールに基づく秩序」の擁護を強調するようになっている。穏やかな態度をとりながら今年の七月のASEAN声明ではITLOSの裁判に全然触れていないが、ちょうど一周間後、米訪中のシンガポールのリー・シェンロン首相が、初めて東南アジアの首脳として、ホワイトハウスで開かれた公式晩餐会を受けた。ASEANの中でシンガポールは中国に対しての態度は軍事的な面で、かなり親米よりな為、その待遇は非常に象徴的だと言える。


今まで歴代の政権は政府開発援助(ODA)を絶対平和的な利用することにしていたが、平成25年12月における安倍政権の日本の初めての「国家安全保障戦略」においてODA の「戦略的利用」が要求されている。意義ある変化として「戦略」という言葉の出現で従来のODAは、日本の政府の狙いは関係せずに、ただ被援助国の発展のためだけであり、これからのODAは政府の外交的や安全保障的な政策に沿って行われる。さらに平成27年2月における安倍内閣は、改定された政府開発援助大綱を決定した。その新しいガイドラインは、外国の軍事へのODAを許可し、その軍事へのODAは、災害救援などという非軍事利用という条件を付けるが、実際には、援助された装置や訓練が、何の目的に使われるか分かるはずもない。(ODA 大綱の名称も変更で「政府開発援助大綱]から「開発協力大綱」にした。重要なのは「援助」から「協力」という変更で付帯条件なしという感じから見返りという意味合いになってしまうのである。)例えば医療トレーニングコースの得た知識や能力は戦場で使える。その新しいODA大綱の発表のための記者会見において安倍首相は日本の援助は「法の支配」を守るためだと強調して、明らかに中国のECS/SCSの「不法的」活動に暗示していた。実際に2013年台風30号ハイエン発生後1,180自衛隊の部隊は、災害救援のためフィリピンへ派遣されたが、そのレスポンスは「中国を抑えるため」 (日本政府の関係者)という下心があったようである。


  • 日本の軍事的な圧力





平成26年 四月に安倍内閣が閣議決定で、武器は条件を満たせば認められるようになった。それを受け、すでに三菱重工業は潜水艦や島を奪還のための水陸両用強襲車を外国に売ろうとしている。しかしそういう大規模な軍事機器より画像センサのような、小さいハイテクの部品を売るかもしれない。


上記のように日本のODAの中で、べエトナムやフィリピンにその国の情報・監視察(ISR)能力を強化するために沿岸警備隊用の巡視船(ヴィエトナムに6隻, フィリピンに10隻)をODAの円借款で提供する。明らかにこの援助は中国のSCSの活動を控えると言う目的である。







  • 日米軍事協力






  • 米国の軍事的な圧力


—フィリピンとベトナムへの軍事協力:2016年三月にアメリカが過去には米国の軍事存在を激しく抵抗したフィリピン政府と、米軍のフィリピン五ヶ所の軍事基地が、改めて永久的な存在と合意した。そのフィリピン基地から米軍隊が南沙諸島などに派遣できるようになるとともに、アメリカはその基地の能力を強化するために設備拡張・建設に支援する見込みだ。米国はかなり沿岸警備隊のカッター、軍装備品などをフィリピンに提供している。2016年三月から中国への警戒を強めているためにSCSにおける米比共同哨戒活動を始めた。米軍隊が展開されるAntonio Bautista Air Baseが位置しているパラワン島は南沙諸島のミスチーフ礁(美济礁)からただ217キ離れている為、米海兵隊は中国の九段線のすぐ側パラワン島に島上陸の訓練ができる。さらに有力のジョンマケイン米国上院議員らはスカボロ黄岩岛)が、米比相互防衛条約の対象範囲となると出張し、そうであれば尖閣諸島と同様に中国軍がスカボロ沖にフィリピンの海軍艦艇などを攻撃すればアメリカはフィリピンを守る義務になる。







 Photo: U.S. Pacific Fleet via flickr


The Emergence of a New Civil Society Movement in Japan


Philippe Valdois, February 1, 2016



2015 has been marked by the resurgence of political activism in Japan and the appearance of a new generation of activists for the first time in decades.

Did this happen in reaction to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policies, in particular with the adoption of a secrecy bill and the decision to reinterpret Article 9 of the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense or, more generally, to the perceived idea that the actual government, with the affiliation of most of its members with a revisionist group, promoting a return to the old Imperial system, was becoming a threat to democracy and the constitution, or to other factors ?  


In my opinion, there is no clear-cut answer but the process of “normalization” advocated by Shinzo Abe and others before him might have been the major factor of public discontent, a large number of Japanese citizens seeing the latest moves by the government as a de facto coup d’état.

I will examine the emergence of SEALDs and other civil movements and will comment on various op-eds recently published in answer to government pressure targeting the media and the academic world directly or by proxy.

However, the big question that might be left unanswered at the end will be to know if and how the emergence of such movements can announce or facilitate the formation of a new political left able to balance the influence of Shinzo Abe and its LDP.

I should point at parenthetically at the growing disconnection between the concerns of the citizens and the powers that be around the world as seen at Davos and at other summits. Global warming and inequalities, along with others concerns are not addressed by the world leaders as they should be. This is also happening in Japan where the distrust for the political class manifests itself in the low voting participation. At the same time, to protect their privileges and assets, and silence dissident voices the world elites are enacting more and more security regulations. Japan, in a way, seems to follow this global trend, having implemented various new border control systems, following the terrorist attacks in New York City on 9-11, for example. However, this should not lead us to conclude that Japan does not entertain its own agenda as we will see later.


The following comes with a caveat: it is not my intention to give a balanced view of the respective positions and opinions of the Japanese left and right on certain issues. The official position of the government is supported and propagated by various medias and is readily available on various ministries’ websites, so I will not elaborate on it. In fact, the argument of fairness has been advanced by various medias to cover what amounts to neglect of their professional duty of informing or questioning the leadership, or to cover encouragement of self-censorship in view of preempting retaliation.

Sources of discontent

I suggested in a previous essay that Japan was facing drastic changes. I mentioned Prime Minister Abe and his associates’ efforts to implement a patriotic education system reminiscent of the Imperial system of indoctrination and to change the constitution, starting with its “reinterpretation.”

Those efforts, such as the railroading of the new security bills, might have backfired to only a small extent, given the continuous apathy of the electorate, or its lassitude, and despite the Summer 2015 largest demonstrations to take place in front of the Diet building since the early 60s’, when a great number of intellectuals and students had mobilized against the revised Security Treaty signed by Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi[1], the grandfather of the present prime minister. Similarly, the antinuclear movement following the March 2011 nuclear catastrophe does not seem to have been effective enough in changing the pronuclear stance of the LDP government.

However, it might have signaled the start of a greater involvement in politics of civil society in general, or at least the youth element. Such involvement can be seen in the emergence of SEALDs as a catalyst for other groups.

To understand better how SEALDs and the reemergence of civic movements came to be, we need to go back two decades or so. I mentioned both in the introduction and in my previous essay the concept of “normalization” as an important factor. Here we need to examine how this concept’s definition changed over time.

For that, we can go back to the late 1980s’ and early 1990s’ and the PKO Law of 1992[2]. Japan decided at that time that it should be more involved in the UN peacekeeping operations.

Later in 1999, Japan enacted its Contingencies in Surrounding Areas Law[3] focused on North Korea’s threat and with the aim of reinforcing the security alliance with the United States.

Then, came September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and the adoption of the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Laws[4]. The question was then how to cooperate with the US in their war in the Middle-East.

As Professor Koichi Nakano[5] mentioned in a public lecture untitled Civil Society Activism and Japan’s Security Policy: What Future for Japanese Democracy?[6], and given on November 20th, 2015, those three sets of bills constitute the background for the current security policy change.


In the late 80s’ and early 90s’, collective self-defense was not promoted by those advocating a growing presence of Japan on the international scene. the mood was more optimistic and the accent was on reconciliation with South Korea and China and a greater involvement in international affairs under the framework of the UN.

However, a shift took place towards a more US dependent approach to foreign policy in the later half of the 1990s’, especially with the Koizumi-Bush period following the terrorist attacks in New York City on 9-11 and the progressive deterioration of relations with South Korea and China.

Since Shinzo Abe’s return to power in 2012, various attempts have been made by his administration to change the constitution. According to Professor Nakano, we could expect another major attempt by Abe’s government this year. It is important to note that under the Designated Secrets Law[7], the public and most parliamentarians might not be fully informed of the reasons why the National Security Council might decide that Japan should get involved in a conflict along the US. A dangerous situation indeed.

In the context of “normalization” there is in addition, since the premiership of Junichiro Koizumi, a strong will to please the US in various domains such as trade by not joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, signing up for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, etc. This might be seen as a way to gain some benefits from Washington, including a certain degree of tolerance regarding the revisionist agenda of Shinzo Abe. I wonder, however, to what extent the US government would let Japan’s Prime Minister Abe go in that direction if he and his friends were to criticize too overtly the decisions of the International Military Tribunal for the Far-East!

Another grievance of the public and telltale of Shinzo Abe’s agenda is the bullying medias and intellectuals are confronted with in Japan. The campaigns some journalists have been subjected to recently are nothing new. A while ago a Journalist from Asahi Shimbun suffered tremendous pressure from the far-right[8]. It is also common knowledge that even if political cartoons are authorized (contrary to a number of other Asian countries) many subjects are taboo in Japan and ridiculing publicly a politician would expose the entertainer and his or her employer to reprimand or worse. It seems nevertheless that the situation is getting worse, as quite a few foreign medias have noted.

Hiroko Kuniya, an extremely talented TV anchor, is the latest casualty, but others working for TV stations and newspapers have also suffered. As Andrew Horvat says in Jeff Kinston’s article[9] about the ouster of Hiroko Kuniya: “… the people in power in Japan today would prefer to have Japan’s TV screens populated by colorful clowns and polite news readers.” Nothing surprising if not for the extent to which the Japanese government is ready to go to make this happen. As I mentioned previously the argument of neutrality is advanced both in the medias and in academic circles, creating a culture of fear and self-censorship, but it might be in part the product of journalists being numbed into obedience through compulsory membership in complacent press clubs and the long tradition of asking scripted questions[10].

The emergence of a New Civil Society Activism: SEALDs

SEALDs, or Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy-s, is a student movement but does not represent all students. It is in fact fairly small in membership but has been playing an important role as catalyst.

It started in 2011 with an anti-nuclear, anti-hate, anti-secrets law and anti-security bills program focused on democracy.

It is composed for the most part by students who are not left-wing but liberal and individualists. They have both Japanese and English websites[11], Facebook and Twitter accounts.

They have been able to galvanize the public into action and shared with some older groups the task of organizing regular walks and demonstrations against the government since early 2015.

Other groups mobilizing against the government include the Nichirenben, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations[12], Save Constitutional Democracy Japan group[13], that is known as Sogakari Kodo or Old School (composed of seasoned activists groups, union members, etc.), Asukawa, an association of young lawyers, and Mothers against War.

In fact, I also saw protesting in front of the Diet building many members of the Komeito, the junior coalition partner of the Liberal Democratic Party who did not share their party line regarding the security bills.  

Those are for Japan’s Liberals reasons to be optimistic. In fact, new groups keep emerging like the Association of People’s Movement to take back constitutional politics[14], which includes scholars and members of SEALDs, on January 19, 2016, and the announcement of the launching of a think tank called ReDemos[15][16].

Will this be enough to mobilize the electorate and stimulate the opposition?

It is difficult to say. There are charismatic figures such as Taro Yamamoto[17] who has started his political career on an anti-nuclear platform and has supported SEALDs and other groups from inside the political system, but there is a need for the opposition to offer new economical alternatives to Abenomics and to show unity.

Some other important issues need some ironing out in terms of collaboration. This is the case for the opposition to the high concentration of US military bases in Okinawa and the controversies surrounding the relocation plan of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan City to Nago inside Okinawa[18], a plan opposed by the actual governor. People of Okinawa are more and more vocal about discrimination and it will take efforts for the left on the mainland to establish a serious dialog and find common strategies to address this major problem. The position of the main opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan is ambiguous concerning this issue since its president, Katsuya Okada, as foreign minister in 2009 and 2010, was a major actor of the poorly conducted negotiations at that time[19][20] 


There is hope for Japanese Liberals, but there is also a race against time since Shinzo Abe seems determined to leave behind a legacy. The next step will be the Upper House elections, slated for Summer 2016, when Prime Minister Abe hopes to secure the help of smaller right-wing parties to win a super majority enabling him to start a constitutional revision process[21]. Meanwhile, the protests continue and the resistance to the plans to rewrite the constitution organizes itself[22]. Taro Yamamoto might be the model of a new generation whose attitude, as he has repeatedly shown in parliament and elsewhere, raising the ire of traditional politicians, seems to go counter to the common idea that Japanese will generally embrace conformity for fear of standing out[23].

A welcome change.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobusuke_Kishi

[2] http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/un/pko/issues.html

[3] http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/06/22/national/politics-diplomacy/japan-eyes-greater-support-for-u-s-forces-in-contingencies

[4] http://japan.kantei.go.jp/policy/2001/anti-terrorism/1029terohougaiyou_e.html

[5] http://www.fla.sophia.ac.jp/professors/nakanokoichi

[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSAL8kCqXXA

[7] http://www.loc.gov/law/foreign-news/article/japan-act-on-protection-of-specially-designated-secrets/

[8] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/03/world/asia/japanese-right-attacks-newspaper-on-the-left-emboldening-war-revisionists.html

[9] http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2016/01/23/commentary/hiroko-kuniyas-ouster-deals-another-blow-quality-journalism-japan/#.Vq84LscWG34

[10] http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/19/national/media-national/murky-call-hardball-interview-chief-cabinet-secretary-suga/#.Vq8_AscWG34

[11] http://sealdseng.strikingly.com

[12] http://www.nichibenren.or.jp/en/document/statements/year/2015/150919.html

[13] http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201506250066

[14] http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160120/p2a/00m/0na/016000c

[15] http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/12/15/national/sealds-members-next-step-launching-think-tank

[16] http://redemos.com

[17] https://www.taro-yamamoto.jp

[18] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relocation_of_Marine_Corps_Air_Station_Futenma

[19] http://www.japanupdate.com/archive/index.php?id=9978

[20] http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201211190068

[21] https://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/editorial/AJ201601130022

[22] https://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201601240030

[23] http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2012/03/04/people/actor-in-the-spotlight-of-japans-antinuke-movement/#.Vq9hY8cWG34

Photo: Moyan Brenn via flickr

70 Years Later, Fighting for the Souls of the Future Generations

                                  by Philippe Valdois

On August 14, 2015, a day before the 70th anniversary of the Japanese defeat in WW2, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addressed the nation. The stakes were high, as Japan needed to restore trust with its neighbors. It also needed to show it could face history, since it would hardly be possible to expect the future to be shared by equal Asian partners without a common understanding of history. This statement also came at a time when there is growing concern both inside and outside Japan that various recent government initiatives to revise the Constitution, reinforce the military or muzzle the media, among other things, are but the tip of the iceberg, and that maybe the real objectives of the government in recent years have been much more ideological in nature than the public might have been led to believe when the focus was on Abenomics.

 It is my understanding that there are concerted efforts to implement long-term societal changes under the leadership of Shinzo Abe and that behind the talk about making Japan a “normal” country lies, in fact, for some members of Japan’s elite, a deep dissatisfaction with post-war democratization, and a deep-seated nostalgia for the pre-war Imperial system. The latest statement by Shinzo Abe only confirms what many observers, scholars and journalists have recently pointed out.

 Are these efforts going to succeed or fail? Scholars and specialists have diverging opinions on the question. To decide if there really is a shift in society towards the right, if this shift is a new phenomenon or the emergence of deep-seated prejudice and xenophobia, we need to evaluate the relative influence of political and ideological forces, including public opinion. Also, there is no doubt that the media and the educators have to be reined in if ultraconservatives have a chance to see their long-term strategies and shaping of public opinion succeed. Education in particular is becoming the main stage where the fight for winning the souls of the future generations is taking place. Keeping in mind Shinzo Abe’s anniversary statement, we will start by going back in time to the San Francisco Treaty.

In a subsequent essay, we will introduce some of the counteracting forces we can find in the academic world, in grassroots movements, in the press and nowadays in a increasingly-vocal segment of the young population.

The San Francisco System Eight Major Problematic Legacies According to Dr. John W. Dower

The San Francisco Treaty, or Peace Treaty with Japan, was signed on September 8, 1951, along with the Security Treaty. Those treaties were to mark the beginning of what Prof. Dower calls the “San Francisco System.”

John W. Dower, MIT professor emeritus of Japanese history said:

 “The disputed islands, the containment-of-China accusations, even the bitter “history issue” involving recollection of imperial Japan’s militarism all have toxic roots in the early years of the Cold War. Together with other present-day controversies, they trace back to the San Francisco System under which Japan re-entered the post-war world as a sovereign nation after being occupied by U.S. forces for over six years, from August 1945 to the end of April 1952.” [1]

Communist China, the Chinese nationalists in Taiwan and South and North Korea were excluded from the Conference although their people had greatly suffered from Japanese aggression and occupation.

Washington had one major objective, and it was to use Japan in the context of the Cold War for strategic purposes as became clear later clear during the Vietnam War. In exchange for the end of occupation and the protection of the U.S. military, Japan was forced to accept the continuous presence of U.S. bases in Japan.

 As Prof. Dower points out:

 “The corrosive long-term consequences of this post-occupation estrangement between Japan on the one hand and China and Korea on the other are incalculable. Unlike West Germany in post-war Europe, Japan was inhibited from moving effectively toward reconciliation and reintegration with its nearest Asian neighbors. Peace making was delayed. The wounds and bitter legacies of imperialism, invasion, and exploitation were left to fester—unaddressed and largely unacknowledged in Japan. And ostensibly independent Japan was propelled into a posture of looking east across the Pacific to America for security and, indeed, for its very identity as a nation.” [2]

 Prof. Dower goes on identifying height problematic legacies:

 (1) Okinawa and the “two Japans”; (2) unresolved territorial issues; (3) U.S. bases in Japan; (4) rearmament; (5) “history issues”; (6) the “nuclear umbrella”; (7) containment of China and Japan’s deflection from Asia; and (8) “subordinate independence”[3]

I recommend Prof. Dower’s long essay[4] for more information about those issues, which have basically been left unresolved, successive administrations having failed to create a roadmap to address them. Interestingly, Prof. Dower is described indifferently as a Marxist, or liberal, etc. in a critical essay by Tanaka Hidemichi, of the revisionist group Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact[5]. This same group quotes the journalist Henry Scott-Stokes on WW2 various issues on its website, but it appears their methods are far from honest if we are to refer to the reaction of Henry Scott-Stokes[6]!

 Revisionism at work in Japan

 Shinzo Abe’s statement demands that we focus on “history issues,” which are at the center of Japan’s neighbors’ grievances. So far so good, but what was expected, as an apology in the statement, was more precisely the recognition of specific issues related to history, and this did not happen.

 We remember that the U.S. authorities, similarly to what had happened in occupied Germany with Operation Paperclip and Operation Osoaviakhim, had granted immunity to Japanese researchers involved in Unit 731 in exchange for their data on human experimentation.[7] It was much later that scholars, and writers like Shusaku Endo with 海と毒薬 (The Sea and Poison) published works on those experimentations. The role played by the United States in protecting their perpetrators and the silence observed by many parties willing to do so for economical reasons, both in Japan, the United States and the PRC (notably about the Rape of Nanking in the immediate post-war period,) explains in part why it took so long before this issue, forced labor, and the enslavement of women euphemistically called “comfort women” came under the spotlight and became public knowledge.

According to The Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group (IWG) at the United States National Archives:

 “Furthermore, there was more systematic destruction of Japanese records pertaining to war crimes in 1945 in response to specific directives to this effect from Imperial Headquarters in Tokyo than was the case in Germany. It should also be noted that vast quantities of Japanese records were returned to Japan without screening or microfilming.”[8]


We might ask ourselves at that point why Japan could not have dealt with its past the way Germany did, opening its records. One argument advanced by the previous Japanese administrations for their refusal to recognize even the veracity of witness accounts of crimes such as had been committed by Unit 731, is to flatly state that such matters had been dealt with between states and through the signing of various treaties. Doing otherwise would have in fact opened the way for financial claims, which was one major reason for not opening the debate about this and other issues, including slave labor[9]… until decades later, when the paucity of survivors would guarantee lesser payments.

Another reason is the nostalgia for the pre-war Imperial system mentioned in the introduction. It is not surprising to see words such as “masochistic view of history” being used by people like Fujioka Nobukatsu in An Analysis of Masochistic Historical Views in Japan (Tokyo, Bungeishunju, 1997) or Tanaka Masaaki in What Really Happened in Nanking (Tokyo, Sekai Shuppan, December 2000). They reflect a vision of Japan as the victim and the accent put on a romantic image of the country and its people.

Contributing to this particular reading of history is the idea that after General Douglas MacArthur absolved the Emperor and his family of any responsibility in WW2 events, he absolved the nation and its people, making it easier for many Japanese to consider those issues as having being resolved.

Moreover, the moral issue is rarely mentioned in Japan, officially or not, except by some grassroots movements, and most of those Japanese who are in favor of apologies are in fact expressing concern for Japan’s own trade and diplomatic relations. Morality is central to the German mind, not so, it seems, for the Japanese.

German racism in WW2 was based on the myth of the Untermensch, the sub-human, developed by the Nazis. By categorically rejecting Nazism as the ideology that had brought misery both to millions of people and its own population, Germany after WW2 also rejected racial discrimination and adopted strong laws against it.

However, regarding Japan, it is only recently that debates have started at the Upper House on an anti-racial discrimination bill[10]. This comes 30 years after Japan has signed the International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination. The bill was introduced by the opposition and is opposed by the parties in power. It also has no punitive provisions. So far, the existing laws Shinzo Abe suggests using to fight discrimination do or will do little to dissuade the use of “No Foreigners” signs in front of various facilities, or hate speech directed at foreigners by various racist groups. Is this reluctance to act both regarding crimes of the past and discrimination of the present a symptom of deeply ingrained racism?

For the Japanese during WW2, their country was a divine Empire. We can look at French history and expressions such as “France, the eldest daughter of the Church” to find a similar fantastic (in the etymological sense) notion that a country is destined and mandated by divine right to rule and guide others. The analogy went farther in that such mandate became convenient for the power that be and in that both monarchy in France and the militarists in Japan did not always see eye to eye with the supposed provider of this divine right, as a comparison between Abe’s statement and the Emperor’s speech of August 15, 2015 shows in the case of Japan. Before WW2, Japan’s industrial and military accomplishments became another motive of pride and contributed to a sense of racial superiority. In addition, I would mention two other factors as having contributed to the sense of superiority demonstrated by the Japanese bureaucratic and military elites of that time. One was the rebuttal they had suffered when they tried proposing a statement of racial equality in the Covenant of the League of Nations in 1919. Their hope was to be considered the equals of the other powers of that time, but their proposal was vetoed by the United States and Great Britain. This was a great cause of resentment for Japan. More importantly, cultural differences and misunderstandings, based on a sense of honor contributed to many war crimes and the mistreatment of prisoners that Japanese soldiers considered as weak because of their unwillingness to consent to collective sacrifice, choosing instead to surrender. Strangely, those values had been inculcated quite recently, at the time of the Restoration of Emperor Meiji, concurrently with the establishment of Shinto as a state religion and an instrument of power. Many Japanese embraced this romantic idea of sacrifice and still consider as anathema the relation of dependence that had befallen them when, under the leadership of Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, they were forced to accept the protection of their recent enemy and occupier, including the continuous presence of military bases and soldiers. This is one of the keys to understand the resentment we talked about. We see this resentment also transferred towards Japan’s neighbors. However victimized they might feel, it is difficult for them to reject Washington, an ally they grew to depend on not only for their security, as we saw with the San Francisco System, but also for best or worse, for their identity as we will see later.  

Shinzo Abe and Ultra-nationalism

There was no surprise in Shinzo Abe’s statement. It had been made clear by the Prime Minister himself, when he addressed a special joint-session of the U.S. Congress on April 29, 2015, that he would uphold the previous Prime Ministers’ statements, expressing deep remorse. He twice used the word “apology” but to refer to his predecessors’ statements, stating in effect that it had been done, that Japan and its neighbors should move on and that “We must not let our children, grandchildren, and even further generations to come, who have nothing to do with that war, be predestined to apologize.”

Shinzo Abe’s goal has long been to remove what he considers a burden of guilt for the next generation and a humiliation. His determination to escape from “masochistic history” and restore a sense of pride to Japan has its roots in his proximity to his grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, who was the number two in the Manchukuo administration and had been imprisoned as Class A war criminal after the end of WW2. Shinzo Abe considered him as a mentor.

But if he expresses warm feeling towards his grandfather and thus naturally rejects the decisions of the Far-East Tribunal as unjust and illegal, he is also close to a number of revisionist organizations, the most famous, however discrete in its dealings, being the ultranationalist organization “Nippon Kaigi” (Japan’s Conference)[11] created in 1997. A great number of members of Parliament belong to this organization, which promotes a return to the Imperial system, focusing again on the education system, towards more discipline and the teaching of “traditional” values such as sacrifice for the nation (a scary proposition if Japan was to send his children to war under a revised Constitution.)

Identity Crisis

Roland Kelts wrote in 2013 an article entitled “The Identity Crisis That Lurks Behind Japan’s Right-Wing Rhetoric[12] reflecting my own ideas on the matter. What we see from the Japanese far-right movement in all its diversity is a mix of romantic ideas and nostalgia for the past, of reactions to feelings of inadequacies, and to Japan not being able to address other nations with its own voice. This of course is a legacy from the U.S. occupation of Japan, which has in a way never ended. As Roland Kelts says, “It’s hard to imagine another well-meaning nation with such bad options. If Japan renounces its U.S.-made constitution, it risks belligerent response. If it doesn’t, it has no sovereign identity.”

Having a man like Shinzo Abe in power, who exemplifies those confused feelings at a time of heightened tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, who talks about proactive peace but whose actions and decisions are more reactive than proactive except for his determination to revive the glory of Japan and erase the word guilt, is a motive of concern.

Although looking at the various right-wing groups Shinzo Abe and some of the members of his government are associated with, it would be easy to deduct that Japanese society is shifting to the right, as many commentators suggest, but as we will see in the next essay, the number of citizens participating in grassroots activities in favor of human rights, tolerance towards foreigners, etc., far exceeds, in fact, the membership of Nippon Kaigi or fringe groups such as Zaitokukai. In addition, Shinzo Abe’s approval rate is down, especially among the elder electorate who do not want to see a repeat of the militaristic years preceding WW2

 However, there is a particular phenomenon actually similar to what often happens on the web in general, but especially in the blogosphere and on social networks. It is difficult to anticipate to what extent it reflects the popularity of ultranationalist ideas or a simple fad.

Housewives and stay-at-home mothers spend a lot of time in front of their computers interacting with “netto-uyo” (rightwing activists on the web) sites. Japan Today, on March 6, 2014 mentioned an article of Shukan Gendai (March 8, 2014) where Licca Kayama, a clinical psychiatrist often quoted in the media said:

 “The housewives I’ve encountered who have been drawn to the ‘netto-uyo’ are serious types and hard workers. But they have the sentiment that ‘I do my best but am unappreciated.’ They feel their lives are boring. From thinking ‘There’s something wrong with society,’ this leads them to ‘The media’s not reporting the truth,’ and while these matters have no direct bearing on their lives, they become agitated.”[13]

 By focusing on perceived problems in society that have no direct impact on their lives and embracing a populist position, they can chat without having to exert critical thinking, putting for example the blame for many problems (crime, etc.) on foreigners in general. Xenophobia, which was not previously as pronounced as nationalism, is becoming more prevalent. This phenomenon is quite similar to what happened in the 50’s when women started supporting in mass new religions. One of them in particular was to produce the lay-Buddhist organization Sokka-Gakai behind the New Komei Party, now a member of the coalition in power in Japan! Women can become convenient propagandists as members of parent-teachers associations for example, for the conservative ideology of the Nippon Kaigi, a revisionist movement regrouping a great number of Diet members and government ministers. Such women are also expressing a feeling common among Japanese who are watching China overcoming Japan economically. People in their 50s have worked hard and now see Japan declining and the promises of life-long employment gone. They lay blame on the outside, an easier solution than trying analyzing the root causes of the problems Japan is facing, which include the Amakudari system (or revolving doors politics), and non-transparent archaic forms of management. As someone once said, they worked hard but not smart, not developing skills such as critical thinking, or adopting a more international perspective in the 21st Century digital age.

The second part of this essay will put the spotlight on many personalities, organizations or grassroots movements representing in fact a much larger segment of Japanese society than its more extreme and vocal elements such as those riding in black trucks, blaring military music in the center of the cities, or suit-wearing members of ultraconservative groups.

 We must concede that Shinzo Abe is sincere in his wish to improve relations with Japan’s neighbors, even if the exact nature of those relations as he see them, and apart from their “peaceful” and “productive” character, remains to be seen. He has shown this wish through his many trips to the Asia-Pacific countries. But on the other hand, he is representing the values of his conservative electorate and his attempts to satisfy both ambitions seem doomed to failure. His strategy to change the Constitution by first proposing a new interpretation of Article 9 and his insistence on upholding the Murayama statement of 1995 while eliminating apologies from his own statement but keeping the word remorse denotes a certain skill with words, but as Michael Cucek wrote in Shisaku[14], Shinzo Abe benefits from having no competition. Cucek suggests reassessing the Cabinet support ratings for Abe as being nominal support as opposed to real.

 Japan is going through a series of rapid changes and I do not see how ultraconservatism with its inherent inertia will be able to win the hearts of the youths who are more willing to embrace change and adopt progressive ideas such as multiculturalism and cultural diplomacy. Shinzo Abe might actually have to fight to stay in power in the months to come.


[1]  The San Francisco System: Past, Present, Future in U.S.-Japan-China Relations サンフランシスコ体制 米日中関係の過去、現在、そして未, John W. Dower, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 8, No. 2, February 24, 2014

[2] Idem

[3] Idem

[4] http://www.japanfocus.org/-John_W_-Dower/4079/article.html

[5] http://www.sdh-fact.com/essay-article/354

[6] http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1508692/lost-translation-british-journalist-shocked-japanese-book-he-dictated

[7] The World: Revisiting World War II Atrocities; Comparing the Unspeakable to the Unthinkable, Ralph Blumenthal, The New York Times, March 7, 1999 (http://www.nytimes.com/1999/03/07/weekinreview/world-revisiting-world-war-ii-atrocities-comparing-unspeakable-unthinkable.html)

[8] http://www.archives.gov/iwg/reports/japanese-interim-report-march-2002-1.html

[9] http://atimes.com/2015/08/ww-ii-japan-slave-labor-what-to-make-of-mitsubishi-materials-apology/

[10] http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/08/04/national/politics-diplomacy/debate-anti-discrimination-bill-begins-diet/

[11] http://www.nipponkaigi.org/

[12] http://world.time.com/2013/05/31/the-identity-crisis-that-lurks-behind-japans-right-wing-rhetoric/

[13] http://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/husbands-aghast-at-wives-infatuation-to-rightwing-causes

[14] http://shisaku.blogspot.jp/2015/07/what-has-been-abe-cabinets-real.html