China has not compromised despite its gains, including the territorial gains achieved diplomatically with Russia. Her long-range hegemonic goals remain the same. Tensions are, as paradoxical as it might appear to those who are naïve, increasing regardless of the superficial rapprochement of China with others in Asia and the Pacific regions. Aljazeera observes:

Stand-offs between Chinese vessels and the Philippine and Vietnamese navies in the South China Sea have become more common as China increases patrols in waters believed to hold vast reserves of oil and natural gas.[16]

Aljazeera also observes that the dispute came at the time of an ASEAN summit:

Malaysia and Brunei are also claimants in the dispute which overshadowed an Asian leaders’ summit in Cambodia this week. China is also embroiled in a territorial dispute with Japan.[17]

Japan

In September the long-time antagonism between China and Japan again erupted when China sent six government vessels into the South China Sea near the disputed islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. The ships had been dispatched after Japan announced its intention of buying the islands from their private owner.[18] The Chinese response to Japanese diplomatic protests was to instigate riots against Japanese citizens and businesses in China. The Brisbane Times reported:

Panasonic’s factory and a Toyota dealership in the port city of Qingdao were damaged by fire, while military police were called in to control thousands demonstrating at the Japanese consulate in Shanghai as protests escalated… Protests occurred in Qingdao, Xi’an, Guangzhou and Hong Kong on Saturday as more than 1000 demonstrators gathered outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing. Japan’s Kyodo News said more than 40,000 people joined demonstrations in 20 Chinese cities. …  In Shanghai yesterday, hundreds of military police were brought in to separate groups of protesters outside the Japanese consulate, chanting: “Down with Japan devils, boycott Japanese goods, give back Diaoyu!” There were no reports of injuries.[19]

Despite the reference to Chinese police being called in to “control” the riots, it would be naïve to think that these demonstrations did not take place at the prompting of Chinese officialdom. China does not feel constrained by diplomacy or business. Chinese policy is undertaken in the pursuit of hegemonic geopolitical long-term aims that are quite beyond the comprehension of the small-minded politicians in Wellington and Canberra and the greed-driven enthusiasts for China free trade. China functions on an entirely different level of reality, which is expressed dialectically, as previously stated. Further, despite the calm exterior of Chinese diplomats and politicians on the world and regional stages, none of the old irrational fanaticism of the Mao era has disappeared; it can be tapped into at any time with the same crazed zeal as the Red Guards during the Mao era.

USA and Russia

The USA and China are in a symbiotic relationship that will not be jeopardized for the sake of US relations with Asia. Nozawa conclude in The Brisbane Times with a significant remark:

Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrives in China today to reassure Chinese leaders the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia is not meant to provoke a confrontation over China’s increasingly assertive posture towards its neighbors.[20]

It seems significant that America’s assurances were given to China just prior to Panetta’s arrival in Japan. Was this a warning to Japan and others that, despite the rhetoric on the world and regional stages, the USA interest in Asia and the Pacific does not include a policy of containing China?

The regional rivalries that exist are between the USA and Russia, not between the USA and China, and the Russo-China rapprochement is about as enduring as China’s commitments to peace over the disputed territories in the South China Sea and India. China has taken what it wants from Russia and others through diplomacy, which only shows Russia’s weakness vis-à-vis its relations with China. While the USA and China extend into the Pacific, Putin’s Russia has a new agenda in the region. A news report that was published in the midst of the antagonism between Japan and China analyzed Russia’s intended expansion of influence into the Pacific, quoting Putin as stating at the APEC summit that Russian is an “intrinsic part of the Asia Pacific region.” The news report perceptively states that Putin’s aims will have to contend with both the USA and China. The APEC meeting was held in Vladivostock, meaning “Lord of the East,” named as such after China ceded the territory to Russia in 1860.[21]

The symbolism of the Vladivostock summit would not have been lost on China. Was this the reason why China flexed her muscled several weeks later in regard to Japan, reminding Russia that she has been a declining power, while China has been in the ascent?

Further realistic thinking came from a Rand analyst:

“There are those in Russia who see China as a prospective threat” despite the two countries’ close relationship, said Olga Oliker, senior international policy analyst at the Rand Corporation. “If Russia does find a way to greater prominence in Asia, it is possible that Russia will find its own interests and pursue them, not always in ways that align with China’s needs.”[22]

Despite Oliker’s conjecture that the USA and Russia might find accord vis-à-vis China, historical dynamics make this unlikely. Nonetheless, wherever such developments might lead, it seems certain that the ignorant and the greedy that shape China policy in New Zealand and Australia will be pushed about by the multiplicity of crises waiting to erupt in a region seething, albeit usually below the surface, with ancient discords.

Notes

[1] “China’s new e-passports cause anger,” Dominion Post, Wellington New Zealand, November 24 2012, B3.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Malcolm Moore, “China’s neighbours protest its passport map grab,” The Telegraph, 22 November 2012, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/9695732/Chinas-neighbours-protest-its-passport-map-grab.html

[4] K R Bolton, “Has Vietnam lost the struggle for freedom?”, Foreign Policy Journal, June 10 2012, https://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/06/10/has-vietnam-lost-the-struggle-for-freedom/

[5] Malcolm Moore, op. cit.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Shubhajit Roy, “India, China, in passport map row again,’ The Indian Express, 24 November 2012, http://www.indianexpress.com/news/india-china-in-passport-map-row-again/1035633/

[8] Shubhajit Roy, Ibid.

[9] “China shows Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as its territory,” Indian Express, 23 November 2012, http://www.indianexpress.com/news/china-shows-arunachal-pradesh-and-aksai-chin-as-its-territory/1035332/

[10] Sudha Ramachandran, “China plays long game on border disputes,” Asia Times Online, 27 January 2011, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/MA27Ad02.html

[11] Ibid.

[12] V I Lenin, “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back,” “A Few Words on Dialectics,” Appendix, Collected Works, 4th English Edition (Moscow: Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965), Vol. 7, pp. 203-425.

[13] A Del Rosario, “Two Steps Backward, One Step Forward,” Manila Standard Today, 1 August 2012.

[14] Shubhajit Roy, op. cit.

[15] For details on Mao’s sociopathy see: Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, Mao: The Unknown Story (London: Jonathan Cape, 2005), inter alia.

[16] “Philippines protest China e-passport map,” Aljazeera, 22 November 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-pacific/2012/11/201211229560658870.html

[17] Aljazeera, op. cit.

[18] Shigeki Nozawa, “Islands dispute sparks riots in Chinese cities,” Brisbane Times, 17 September 2012, http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/world/islands-dispute-sparks-riots-in-chinese-cities-20120916-260ge.html

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] “Putin’s Pacific ambitions face challenge,” gulfnews.com, 10 September 2012, http://gulfnews.com/news/world/other-world/putin-s-pacific-ambitions-face-challenge-1.1072562

[22] Ibid.