Japan had the first world leader to meet with President-elect Trump. For the first time in eleven years, Putin just visited Japan for two days of talks. Trump’s proposed Secretary of State was awarded a Friendship medal by Vladimir Putin. What if anything do these have in common? Maybe nothing, but I can’t help but consider the implications for a Grand Alliance between Japan, Russia and the United States to contain China’s expansionist tendencies
Until recently, only Mao and Deng Xiaoping have achieved the title of “Core Leader”. Deng wanted the Communist Party to become a consensus-based system with rotating leadership and he would be the last Core leader. Current Premier Xi has put the end to that with his recent appointment as Core leader. We will have to see if this turns out to be an over-reach or the start of Emperor Xi’s dynasty.
China has always been a difficult country to rule. There are five distinct regions and multiple languages. There have only been a few times where a dynasty has been able to rule them all. Revolutions start, not when things are at their worst, but when rising expectations are dashed. Xi can see the demographic wall they are about slam into, as a result of the one-child policy lasting too long. He also knows that there will be economic dislocations, as they try to change from an Export-driven to a Consumer Society.
His biggest threat internally may not come from the aging establishment’s backlash, but from a youthful burgeoning left-wing Maoist movement. That is why the charismatic populist Bo Xilai was the victim of one of the first Stalin-like Show Trails. Xilai’s popular message was that Mao’s revolution has been hijacked by the corrupt Princelings – a group that Xi was fortunate enough to be born into.
China doesn’t it view itself as a Rising Power, but a a Returning Power. After all, with just 250 years under their belt, these Americans are only upstarts. While Kissinger was secretly meeting with Deng for Nixon’s Machiavellian opening to China, he asked Deng what he though about the French Revolution. After a pause, he said “We’ll have to see how it turns out”. China takes the long view of history and their future.
Embattled leaders will often use external threats to distract a restless populace. Xi knows the end of China’s economic miracle will bring unrest. Xi’s expansionist foreign policy has unnerved its neighbors, the most powerful of which are Russia and Japan. They could be open to a Grand Alliance with the United States to counter China’s rise. After all the US joined with Stalin to defeat what we thought was the greater foe – Hitler.
There is no love lost between Russia and China. They fought a seven month undeclared border war in 1969. China is financially taking over Mongolia and expects its other neighbors to eventually become vassal states also.
Russia had always been torn. It’s either a European or an Asian power. The construction of St. Petersburg was supposed to tilt Russia to the West. Putin rose to power from there. He has revived the Russian orthodox church. Putin’s Russia feels more comfortable with the West than the East. Russia is a declining power, who is afraid of the dragon’s growing power on it’s western borders. Japan is afraid too. Fear of a common enemy can make for strange bedfellows. Trump’s unconstrained collection of no-nonsense generals and plutocratic deal makers could think far enough outside the box to try and pull off such a Grand Bargain.
we are witnessing four changes in international affairs that will lead to renewed great power conflict.
The first change is the slow disengagement of the United States from the dominating role it has played after World War II, marked most notably by a lowering of its defense spending and commitments. America has retreated from its role of protector of the world order, but the current occupant of the White House clearly ranks foreign affairs as an annoyance compared to an ambitious domestic agenda and has telegraphed his desire for America to have either a light or non-existent footprint across much of the globe.
The slow American withdrawal coincides with the second change, in which four of the current great powers (Russia, China, India, and Japan) are revaluating, amplifying, or changing aspects of their grand strategy in a way that resembles a similar reshuffling that took place late in the nineteenth century.
Third, there are ominous parallels between the cauldron that created the conflict of the Great War and those simmering today. China, playing the role of nineteenth-century Germany, seems determined to upset the economic and military stability created by the United States and Japan, especially in the area of naval power and power projection. Japan is playing the role of the United Kingdom, an old power clinging to its power base by mobilizing nationalism and militarism. Russia, attempting to resurrect its glory by aggressive action, reminds us of a turn-of-the-century France. India, coming on the world stage for the first time, yet not quite ready for a big role, is reminiscent of the newly unified Italian peninsula of 1861.
We’ve only seen segments on Western TV of this remarkable Video from Japanese Television. Thanks to Cindy Burke.
This link will take you to more amazing pictures posted so far on this photo blog.
A SUNDAY TIMES investigation has exposed Japan for bribing small nations with cash and prostitutes to gain their support for the mass slaughter of whales.
The undercover investigation found officials from six countries were willing to consider selling their votes on the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
The revelations come as Japan seeks to break the 24-year moratorium on commercial whaling. An IWC meeting that will decide the fate of thousands of whales, including endangered species, begins this month in Morocco.Thanks Michelle Hester.
Is China like the US in 1890? Or is it more like Japan in 1980? If the parallel with America is right, China is likely to be the dominant power of the next century. If the Japanese comparison is more accurate, then the Chinese challenge to American hegemony could prove ephemeral.
The current mood in the US certainly feels like an exaggerated version of the “declinism” that set in towards the end of the 1980s, when the US was transfixed by the rise of Japan. A recent Pew opinion survey showed that a majority of Americans now believe that the Chinese economy is larger than that of the US. This is plain wrong. At the time the poll was taken, the Chinese economy was around half the size of America’s.
It was this kind of scare that took hold in the late 1980s. Japanese investors provoked angst by buying the Rockefeller Centre in New York – and it was Japan that was the world’s largest creditor nation. Continue reading “Wiil China Develop Like US or Japan Did?”
“Japan is so dependent on exports that when overseas markets slow down, Japan’s economy teeters on collapse,” said Hideo Kumano, an economist at the Dai-ichi Life Research Institute. “On the surface, Japan looked like it had recovered from its Lost Decade of the 1990s. But Japan in fact entered a second Lost Decade — that of lost consumption.”
“I thought America had studied Japan’s failures,” said Hirofumi Gomi, a top official at Japan’s Financial Services Agency during the crisis. “Why is it making the same mistakes?”
Japan’s problems did not happen at the time of a world-wide downturn. I think that Geithner is afraid that the World Financial System couldn’t handle the Japanese cure right now – The cure could kill the patient.