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  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 11:04am
CommentInsight & Opinion

China should accept India and Japan playing a bigger role in Asian security

Yuriko Koike says from elections to gas deals, recent events may well shape the region's future

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 May, 2014, 7:55pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 May, 2014, 2:04am

A week, it is said, is a long time in politics. But events in Asia last week may define the region for decades to come.

Thailand, one of Asia's most prosperous countries, seems determined to render itself a basket case. A military coup, imposed following the Thai constitutional court's ouster of an elected government, can lead only to an artificial peace which may give way to a more dangerous storm.

To Thailand's east, Vietnam is the latest Asian country to feel pinched by China's policy of creating facts on the ground, or in this case at sea, to enhance its sovereignty claims on disputed territory. Vietnam's government reacted vigorously to China's placement of a huge, exploratory oil rig near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. Ordinary Vietnamese reacted even more vigorously, by rioting and targeting Chinese industrial investments for attack.

China's unilateral behaviour has exposed a strain of virulent anti-Chinese sentiment bubbling beneath the surface in many Asian countries. Renewed protests over China's mining investments in Myanmar confirmed this trend, one that China's leaders seem either to dismiss as trivial, or to regard as somehow unrelated to their bullying. Indeed, like Russian President Vladimir Putin, who faces widespread public antipathy in Ukraine, China's leaders appear to believe that popular protests against them can only be the product of an American plot.

Yet, despite their shared contempt for expressions of the popular will, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Putin struggled, during Putin's two-day visit to Shanghai, to agree on a new gas deal that the Kremlin desperately needs. Putin had viewed China as his backup option should the West seek to isolate Russia following its annexation of Crimea. Putin's idea was that he could pivot Russia's economy into a partnership with China.

But Xi baulked, signing the gas agreement only after Putin offered a steep discount. Xi's self-confidence reflected not only the Chinese leadership's contempt for Putin's mismanagement of the Russian economy, but also the fact that China's energy worries have lessened considerably of late.

China's hard bargaining with Russia has exposed the limits of the two countries' bilateral cooperation, which has important geostrategic consequences for Asia and the world. China, it now seems, is happy to see Putin poke his finger in the West's eye and challenge America's global leadership. But it is not willing to underwrite with hard cash Russian pretensions to world power status.

But the most epochal events took place in two of Asia's great democracies: India and Japan. Narendra Modi's landslide victory in India's general election was not only a huge personal triumph for the son of a tea seller, but may well mark a decisive break with India's traditional inward-looking policies. Modi is determined to reform India's economy and lead the country into the front rank of world powers.

Here, Modi will find no stauncher ally than Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was among the first Asian leaders to embrace him in his bid to lead India. Given that both countries have almost perfectly aligned regional security interests, there should be plenty of scope for the two to act in tandem to improve regional security and mutual prosperity.

In the past week, Abe created for himself more political space to act as a strategic partner, not only to India, but also to Japan's other allies, particularly the US. Quietly, a panel appointed by Abe's government offered a reinterpretation of a key element of Article 9 of Japan's constitution. For the first time since the Pacific war's end in 1945, Japan's Self-Defence Forces would be able to participate in "collective self-defence" - meaning Japan could come to the aid of its allies should they come under attack.

Of course, China and others in Asia have tried to muddy this change with the alarmist charge of a return to Japanese militarism. But the new interpretation augurs just the opposite: it embeds Japan's military within an alliance system that has been, and will remain, the backbone of Asia's prevailing structure of peace.

Modi's victory and Abe's increased ability to stand by Japan's allies can help to forge deeper bilateral ties and, if understood by China, foster a greater strategic equilibrium in the region. It is now possible for Asia's greatest powers - China, India, Japan, and the US - to form something akin to the concert system that gave Europe a century of almost complete peace in the 19th century.

Of course, such a system would require China to set aside its goal of regional hegemony. Clear-sighted Chinese must already see that such dominance is impossible. Now is the moment for China to anchor its rise within a stable and mutually acceptable Asian regional order. Indeed, for China, this may be the ultimate tipping point in its modernisation.

Yuriko Koike, Japan's former defence minister and national security adviser, was chairwoman of the Liberal Democrat Party and is a member of the national Diet. Copyright: Project Syndicate

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This article is now closed to comments

53567e31-b104-458b-a6cd-350e0a320969
Yuriko Koike is a devil worshipping fascists who frequently worship at the Yasukuni War Shrine and have made telling lies part and parcel of Japanese foreign policy. This article is full of invented falsehoods. Japan's insistence on the so-called "collective self-defence" is nothing more than to allow the bloodthirsty Japanese to repeat past aggression and barbarism to join the US on killing sprees. All this is prohibited under Japan's Peace Constitution which the Japanese fanatics like Miss Yuriko Koike wants to ditch. But by ditching the Peace Constitution, Japan will make itself fair game and will be a nail in Japan's coffin. Japan haven't learned the lessons of WWII and the two atomic bombings that aggression and barbarism will result in retribution. The Fukushima nuclear disaster was divine retribution for Japan which unfortunately for Japanese like Miss Yuriko Koike no lessons were learned again. The future for Japan is very dark indeed!
aksc
SCMP should not assist War Crime stricken State to air their unilateral distorted propaganda in a trusted mass media, like it or not, subject to sorvereign censorship, one way or other. Factually the article is biased and non-factual to most well informed people around the world.
Mikado
Japanese politicians especially the war-mongers and criminals in the LDP with their ties to organised crime are too dishonourable. The Japanese should be ashamed of themselves for resorting to lies about almost everything. Have Japanese no honour? Are Japanese today still like their savage ancestors? A few more Fukushimas and the liars like Ms Yuriko Koike may finally shut up.
lamlm38
Ahh.. India is another basket case.. I'm going to bed now :)
5353b57f-a9f4-46e1-903d-34f50a320969
If Japan reinterprets Article 9 - China can technically ask for Okinawa back, and all war reparations ? And haven't they broken this continuously since 1947, by having an army and a navy and air force?
Daniel Lee
The low vicious mentality of the Japanese fascists especially the LDP members like Ms Yuriko Koike and her psychopath boss is similar to their evil barbaric ancestors. When the slaughtered 300,000 innocent civilians in an orgy of rape and murder lasting 2 months during the Rape of Nanking, they called it an "incident" disputing that there was even such an atrocity. When they forced hundreds of thousands of women into becoming sex-slaves they called their victims "comfort-women". When the conducted cruel and unusual experiments on POW's in Unit 731, they referred to the thousands of dead bodies as "logs". When they invaded other countries they always claim to be protecting "Japanese Interests". Now the despicable Japanese calls the hunting of endangered whales "scientific whaling" when not one iota of science is involved only senseless slaughter. The poison spewing from war-criminals worshippers like Ms Yuriko Koike and her psychopath boss Shinzo Abe is beyond imagination and comes from the most evil and darkest recess of the evil Japanese psyche. When can japan ever become civilised? Perhaps only after 500 atomic bombs have been dropped on Japan to expunge the evil continuing to this day!
Daniel Lee
Japan's SDF is an example of the sinister Japanese psyche which allows them to do things forbidden by the so-called article 9. This is a dishonourable people that violates everything decent including their own peace constitution.
Javed Mir
Japenese history is so recent and their war crimes are still fresh in memory.I doubt if Chinese people will let it go and forget it. Time is now in favour of Chinese.

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