Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Next World War

Is getting closer.

Following the Chinese government sponsored sacking of Japanese businesses, Japan's prime minister Junichiro Koizumi has told China to "grow up" and keep "a cool head". I don't usually do a big copy & paste, but this report is well worth reading:

(China's) voracious appetite for imports has boosted the economy of the region, but its growing belligerence has alarmed some neighbors, particularly Japan and Taiwan.

The new Japanese national defense strategy last December for the first time named the rapidly re-arming China as a prime concern, saying: "We have to remain attentive to its future actions."

Two months later, Tokyo further infuriated Beijing with a joint declaration with Washington that the peaceful resolution of the dispute between China and Taiwan was a common "strategic objective". Although phrased in diplomatic language, this was a clear warning to China not to seek to retake Taiwan by force.

"The balance of power is changing in favor of mainland China," said Masahi Nishihara, president of the National Defense Academy. "If there is a conflict between China and the United States over Taiwan, Japan would be almost immediately involved."

Mr Nishihara raised the prospect of a China mounting a Pearl Harbor-style surprise attack on the US military base in Okinawa to stop America coming to the rescue of Taiwan. "We need diplomacy to avoid conflict. But if it came to war, we would want the US to win."

He said China had now overtaken Japan in defense spending, and while the Japanese navy could still stand up to the Chinese, Tokyo had no nuclear submarines and no response to the hundreds of missiles on China's coast or the threat from North Korea.

Seen from Japan, the European Union's plans to lift its embargo on selling arms to China is deeply worrying.

"China is not a threat to Europe. For European countries that want to make money, China is a good market," said Mr Nishihara, "But for us China is a security threat."

Although Japan is one of the world's biggest spenders on defense, successive governments have preserved the country's pacifist constitution that gave up the right to settle international disputes by force. But Japan is undergoing a revolution of its defense doctrine, which has seen Tokyo send troops ever further afield, strengthen military ties with America and become more active in Asian security.

I try to take the long view, extracting the data that really matters from the wall of information that falls on us every day.

This really matters.