Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Japan's strategic offensive, from Diaoyu Islands to Nay Pyi Taw

Illustration: Liu Rui

Shinzo Abe's election has pushed the Diaoyu Islands crisis into the edge of all-out confrontation between China and Japan.

 While Japan's high-profile move on the Diaoyu Islands is a direct confrontation against its neighbor, its actions in Myanmar are a secret detour against China.

As the Diaoyu Islands dispute gripped the attention of China and the whole world, Japan's newly appointed Finance Minister Taro Aso visited Myanmar to write off its debt of 500 billion yen ($5.58 billion), followed by major financial groups covertly pushing into Myanmar's economic field.

In fields where China is also involved, Japanese financial groups, with their advanced technology, strong capital and national support, are in a race with Chinese enterprises.

They do not aim for profits at the moment, and some would rather suffer a loss.

This is not a healthy competition, but a vicious economic war which aims to drive out Chinese companies, control Myanmar's economy, and finally, cut off China's energy passageway to the Indian Ocean.

Soon after the US focused on hedging against China in Myanmar, Japan immediately started annihilating Chinese enterprises under the umbrella of the US' strategy.

China has three grand strategic projects in Myanmar - the Myitsone hydropower project, which has been forced into a total shutdown, the Monywa-Latpadantaung copper mine, where several public protests have taken place, and finally, the construction of an oil and gas pipeline between China and Myanmar, where recent signs have become increasingly disturbing.

Myanmar joins sea and land in the US' C-shaped encirclement of China, which includes the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, East Asia and South Asia.

After the US decided on an eastward strategic shift centered on encircling China, an East Asian alliance, with Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam as the axis, promptly came into being and endangered vast areas in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

It is a fatal threat to China, which relies heavily on the sea for its trade and energy. Under such circumstances, Myanmar's vital strategic position is evident, which is why the US and Japan have concentrated on the country.

Due to the strong US-Japan alliance, it is very difficult for China to achieve a decisive breakthrough in the East China Sea and the South China Sea issues, while a westward focus may be the best solution.

However, Myanmar, one of the four westward passages, was seized initially by the US and Japan, which have launched a strategic offensive in what seems like a showdown posture.

Through the powerful intervention of the US and Japan, great changes have taken place in Myanmar's political situation, and Myanmese military forces' large-scale attack on the Kachin Independence Army is only one event that shows this. 

Thus, Myanmar has become the arena where China, the US and Japan play out a strategic game. We hope China can develop a proper strategy to deal with the situation in the new century.

After the US' public announcement of its eastward strategic shift, some Chinese have given up their fantasies about the US.

 A number of Chinese have another fantasy of China uniting with Japan to isolate the US, as Japan's national strategy aims to keep abreast with China and the US in its politics.

But the US' usefulness is much greater than China's, and will be for quite some time. Japan will align with the US strategic direction in this period, rather than move closer to China.

I suggest strategy planning departments deploy unified strategic actions with regards to Myanmar and the Diaoyu Islands from the perspective of the overall Sino-Japanese duel.

On the issue of Myanmar, China should support the normal economic activities of Chinese enterprises with State power, as Japan has done. As for the Diaoyu Islands, China must leave Japan in a defensive position by regaining the initiative instantly.

By Dai Xu
The author is director of China Institute for Marine Security and Cooperation Studies. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Related post:
Who owns Diaoyu Islands?

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