Thursday, April 28, 2005
By PU ZHIQIANG, The New York Times, April 28, 2005
Note: Pu Zhiqiang is a Chinese lawyer. This article was translated by Perry Link from the Chinese.
EVER since June 4, 1989, when the world's cameras embarrassed the Chinese government by recording the slaughter of unarmed protesters in Beijing, spring has been a sensitive period in Chinese politics. Public demonstrations of all kinds have been repressed as if they were vicious cancers. It is indeed news, then, that people have been protesting in the streets of Chinese cities about Japan's wartime past, its textbooks' reluctance to face history squarely, and its proposed accession to the United Nations Security Council.
Of course, the fundamental nature of these protests is different from that of the demonstrations of 1989, because they so far have had the tacit approval of the authorities. The protesters have incurred essentially zero risk, and suspense over the outcome has also been near zero. But even when protests are government-sanctioned, they still offer the Chinese people a rare chance to let off some steam.
If truth be told, however, China and Japan have much in common. China shares many of Japan's flaws and has yet to master some of its important strengths.
We Chinese are outraged by Japan's World War II crimes - the forcing of Chinese into sexual slavery as "comfort women," the 1937 massacre of unarmed civilians in Nanking, and the experiments in biological warfare. Our indignation redoubles when the Japanese distort or paper over this record in their museums and their textbooks. But if we look honestly at ourselves - at the massacres and invasions strewn through Chinese history, or just at the suppression of protesters in recent times - and if we compare the behavior of the Japanese military with that of our own soldiers, there is not much to distinguish China from Japan.
This comparison haunts me. When I think of the forced labor in Japanese prison camps, I am reminded of forced labor camps in China, and also of the Chinese miners who lose their lives when forced to re-enter mines that everyone knows are unsafe. Are the rights of China's poor today really so much better protected than those of the wretched "colonized slaves" during the Japanese occupation? There was the Nanking massacre, but was not the murder of unarmed citizens in Beijing 16 years ago also a massacre? Is Japan's clumsy effort to cover up history in its textbooks any worse than the gaping omissions and biased blather in Chinese textbooks?
China's textbooks omit the story of how the Great Leap Forward of the late 1950's was actually the disastrous failure of a harebrained economic scheme by Mao that led to the starvation of 20 million to 50 million rural Chinese. No one really knows the numbers. Nor do we know how many were killed in the campaigns to suppress "counterrevolutionaries" during the 1950's, in the Cultural Revolution during the 1960's, or even in the Beijing massacre of 1989. Yet we hold Japan firmly responsible for 300,000 deaths at Nanking. Does our confidence with numbers depend on who did the killing?
China and Japan both have blood on their hands, but they have important differences as well. Comfort women and others whom Japan has injured or insulted can sue either Japan's government or its big companies, and they can do this in either Japanese or Chinese courts. Japanese who want to can demonstrate in Tokyo shouting "Down with Japanese militarism!"
These things are very different in China. The Chinese government decides on its own whether to give modest compensation to the widows of dead miners. Ordinary workers and farmers are often in the position of issuing appeals to the very people who are oppressing them. Families of Beijing massacre victims to this day have police stationed at their doorways, lest they misbehave. And demonstrators may shout only about approved topics. Before we in China decide we are superior to Japan, we must address our own double standards.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Saturday, April 23, 2005; Page A18
CHINA'S PROMISE of a "peaceful rise" to great power status sounded reassuring when it was first articulated by President Hu Jintao. As it has taken on substance over the past several years it has rung increasingly hollow. Mr. Hu's idea of "peaceful" so far has included the blunt suppression of democracy in Hong Kong; outreach to rogue regimes around the world, such as Iran and Sudan; double-digit annual increases in defense spending; adoption of a law committing China to a war of aggression against democratic Taiwan if it fails to satisfy Beijing's demands; and now, the crude use of nationalist sentiment to intimidate Japan. Far from ensuring stability, Mr. Hu's policy risks polarizing the region and forcing the United States and other outside powers to choose sides.
No one should wish for such an outcome, but if it comes to that, the choice shouldn't be hard. Japan's democratic government, like Taiwan's, poses no threat to its neighbors, and Tokyo has shown a growing willingness in recent years to contribute to regional and global security. Though its nationalists still try to play down Japan's criminal aggression in the 1930s and '40s, and some textbooks cater to them, the government has repeatedly apologized to its neighbors for the offenses that occurred 60 and 70 years ago. On Friday Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi reiterated those apologies in an effort to defuse tensions with Beijing and pave the way for a meeting with Mr. Hu.
China has responded grudgingly to such conciliatory gestures, even though the crisis between the two countries -- the worst since they established diplomatic relations in 1972 -- is almost entirely of Beijing's making. It was Mr. Hu's government that chose to make an exaggerated fuss over the textbook issue, then allowed and even encouraged demonstrators to attack Japanese diplomatic missions and restaurants in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities. The popular hostility toward Japan that erupted in the streets was real enough, but Mr. Hu's government made the dangerous and irresponsible decision to stoke it and employ it for its own ends. These ends include thwarting Japan's justifiable bid to become a member of the U.N. Security Council and using nationalism to prolong one-party rule by the Communist Party.
Concern that the demonstrations might get out of hand and turn against the government seems to have motivated Mr. Hu finally to rein them in: Official statements now warn against "unauthorized" protests. But there is no indication that the Chinese leadership has absorbed the larger lesson: that crude bullying of Hong Kong, Taiwan or Japan is not a path to greater influence, much less a "peaceful rise," by China. It is, rather, a formula for uniting most of Asia and eventually the United States in an attempt to contain Chinese belligerence. That would be a bad outcome for the United States, for China, and for Asian and global security. Whether it can be avoided depends mostly on whether Mr. Hu can recognize and learn from a string of mistakes.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
-Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said in several debate programs on television Sunday that the Japanese government will examine China's history textbooks for alleged anti-Japanese references and ask the Chinese government to improve them if necessary.
Machimura said in one of the programs, ''The textbooks in China and South Korea are designated by the government...Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan told me when I met him that we can express our opinion on Chinese textbooks. We will examine them and convey Japan's opinions.''------------------
''The Chinese government only took a halfway measure as it restricted such demonstrations to a certain point but left them to take their own course beyond that,'' he said.
Friday, April 22, 2005
In Response to some of the criticism of Japan's role in the recent China-Japan crisis, Yoshi Ishida has addresses a few of these issues:
-Level A War Criminals contaminates the Yasukuni Shrine
The Tokyo Tribunal that criminalized several Japanese leaders in WWII was in its entirety a Kangaroo court, which was, and still is, not legitimate. US dropped two atomic bombs in 1945 and killed many civilians, but
- China and Japan are both wrong.
Cookiesap used to suuport China 100% when I met him in the first time. Now he says both are wrong. It is a good progress. Likewise, the international society began to blame China. For example, EU postponed selling weapons to China. Good progress. The world witnessed the injustice within China; a communist country.
I think the anti-Japan terror is not a crisis, but a very good chance to wake up Japanese people and alarm business people all over the world. Anti-Japan terrors will not stop. I know it will happen again. Japan should seek friendship with pro-Japan countries like Taiwan, India, and ASEAN countries.
Do you agree with Yoshi?
Kang Man Gil, a renowned historian appointed as head of a prestigious government committee preparing for the 60th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule, was asked a question by a reporter last week and he said what few historians dispute. When his reply was reported, however, many South Koreans called for Kang's dismissal. Kang said last week that Kim Il Sung, the late North Korean president, had fought against colonial Japan.
"It's a historical fact," Kang said, adding that "Kim's anti-Japanese struggle should be considered part of the nation's independence movement." It was more than enough to set off South Korea's conservatives.
"It's a senile comment that we can never tolerate, given the sentiment of our people," said a statement from the Free Citizens' Alliance of Korea, a leading conservative group in Seoul. "Kim Il Sung was a war criminal. A senior public official advertising him as an independence fighter - this is something that should never happen."------------
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
BBC News has launched a very interesting feature on the China-Japan rivalry
One of the most provoking phrases, is by Wen Jiabao:"Only a country that respects history, takes responsibility for past history and wins over the trust of the people in Asia and the world at large can take greater responsibility in the international community"
How can China claim this in a country where the Tiananmen protesters are seen as "terrorists"?
What do YOU think?
Sunday, April 17, 2005
Korean Land Corp (KLC), a state-run enterprise, has commenced on the first phase of constructing a new administrative capital in South Chungcheong Province, 160 Km south of Seoul. The project, which is supposed to relieve Seoul of of its overcrowding problems, has been scheduled over the next 20 years in the new cities of Yeongi and Gongju.
Whether this project will be successful or not-- only time will tell. Korea has, however, had success in the past with planned cities such as Changwon in the province of South Gyungnam. Whether Korea will follow the success of Brazil's capital relocation, is up for discussion: please share your comments and thougths.
Related article in the Korea Herald
Saturday, April 16, 2005
Yoshi Ishida, an MA graduate from the University of Warwick, now residing in Tokyo, has a strong opinion about the recent diplomatic row between China and Japan:
Japan has tried to be ESPECIALLY friendly with China and South Korea, (and North Korea as well until the 1980s) because of what happened in WWII. That is why Japan has spent a lot of money (which comes from Japanese taxpayers) to help SK and China
develop their infrastructure. Japan has also apologised for WWII many times to SK and China.
The anti-Japan rows will happen again tommorrow... and it will never end. Please do not forget China also has problems with Taiwan, Tibet, and the ASEAN countries.
I think Japan also has its own problems. Japan was too apologetic for what it has done in the past and it did not try to explain its own position e.g. why Yasukuni Shrine is important to the Japanese. Now many Westerners believe what China and the protesters says and misunderstand the significance of the Yasukuni shrine. Did you know a group of Taiwanese politicians visited the Yasukuni Shrine last month? Perhaps not....
Your comments are welcome!
Friday, April 15, 2005
The recent row is just another chapter in the mindless diplomatic relationship between two rivaling superpowers that allocate too much political capital and legitimacy in their historic discontent with the other. With the lack of an East Asian regional structure (such as the EU or ASEAN), and much worse, with both countries refusing to accept their own histories exactly as they occurred; the mistrust and apathy will prevail indefinitely. The stubbornness of both countries is to blame.
Please share your thoughts, emotions and opinions
BEIJING, April 14 - Enraged about Japan's tendentious textbooks and territorial disputes in the East China Sea, Sun Wei, a college junior, joined thousands of Chinese in a rare legal protest march on the streets of Beijing last weekend.
Yet the police herded protesters into tight groups, let them take turns throwing rocks, then told them they had "vented their anger" long enough and bused them back to campus. "It was partly a real protest and partly a political show," Mr. Sun said in an interview this week. "I felt a little like a puppet."
China has tapped a deep strain of nationalism among its people, gambling, analysts say, that it can propel itself to a leadership role in Asia while cloaking its move for power in the guise of wounded pride and popular will.-----------------
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
NEW DELHI, April 11 - China and India agreed Monday to resolve a decades-old border dispute and let trade flourish between the countries.
Promising a new era of "peace and prosperity" between the world's two most populous countries, the announcement came during a four-day visit to India by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China.
It signaled an end to a protracted dispute over several patches along the 2,200-mile border between the countries, stretching from Kashmir to Myanmar. China defeated India in a war over territory in 1962, and relations have been fraught for four decades.-----------
Monday, April 11, 2005
Sunday, April 10, 2005
April 10: For two days running, anti-Japanese protests have mustered in the streets of Beijing to perhaps reach as many as 10,000 demonstrators. Flag burning and stone-throwing against the Japanese embassy were but a few of the actions taken by the disgruntled Chinese. But were they "thinking for themselves"?
China has had explosive economic growth, but in the process of keeping the China unified under the CCP, China has felt compelled to remain bent over a few political, and definitely ideological issues. One of them is the Taiwan issue, another is with Tibet, and perhaps the most appropos, is the anti-Japanese sentiment. It is a growing a problem, which could lead to decreasing terms of trade that in turn could undermine the legitimacy of the CCP. The party is largely depending on economic growth for acceptance among not only the Chinese but also other world powers.
Is China slowly painting itself into a corner, by not balancing these issues adequately and keeping them "at check". Although these issues repeat themselves every couple years or so, has china now so many problematic hards on her hand, that the country is stuck in the middle of a dilemma? These protests are definitely not typical!!
China's future depend on your comment .... :)
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Is Chen Shui-Bian a Bully? or a cunning fox?
With his latest ploy to cool the recent "china fever" by investigating unauthorized contact with PR China, and with his wish to attend the Pope's funeral, is Mr. Chen trying to reach new grounds in the PRC - ROC conflict. We have seen Mr. Chen's controversies before - but have they reached new hights? Should we be afraid?
Although many Mainland Chinese despise Mr. Chen, what is your view of this charismatic person?
Where will his vociferous and daring comments lead Taiwan?
With Mr. Chen's provocative nature, you are encouraged to follow suit on your comments. Xie xie.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Pop-ups are the bane of my "online" existance. For the past three days, it seems that I've been working non-stop on installing blocker software and fidgeting with my internet settings in order for my computer to be even remotely operational. It is very damaging to the efficiency of my internet browsing. Thousands of similar users must feel the same.
Why does the internet community allow for such herassment of people's "surfing"?
To address this question in its proper context, my questions to this blog are:
Is this equally large problem for internet users in East Asia?
Does much of this "spam" come from East Asia?
What are the East Asian governments doing to hem this proliferation of pop-ups?
Thanks for your comments!