Of the 480 lower house seats, the Democratic Liberal Party has taken 294 seats, New Komeito, 31, and Japan Restoration Party, 54.
Japanese hardliners have an overwhelming majority of 379, or 79%, in the lower house of Japan’s parliament now.
It is easy for hardliners to decide to fight a war against China for the disputed islands now.
On the Chinese side, there is now a leader of quick decision and quick action (refer to my post Xi Jinping, a Man of Quick Decision and Actions dated November 30 at ).
As soon as Xi took over, China sent navy ships and civil administrative aircraft to patrol the sea areas around the disputed islands the Diaoyus (called Senkakus by Japan). We should say Xi really has made quick decisions and taken quick actions in dealing with that tricky issue.
Japanese Prime Minister Noda, who was not so hawkish as Shinzo Abe, his successor in waiting, was infuriated by China’s air patrol. He sent a fleet of military aircraft (instead of civil aircraft) to drive away Chinese civil administrative aircraft. Obviously, even Noda who was not so hawkish wanted to show his willingness to fight.
What about Abe? Abe said, “Japan and China need to share the recognition that having good relations is in the national interests of both countries. China lacks this recognition a little bit. I want them to think anew about mutually beneficial strategic relations.”
Prime Minister Noda and his officials have tried their best in vain to persuade China to share that recognition.
Does Abe have better persuasion?
He resorts to the persuasion of strength.
Abe said his first port of call as prime minister would be the United States. He believes that his persuasion will be strong enough with US support.
However, perhaps both Abe and the US may fail to really understand the situation in China.
Xi Jinping’s first major activity after he became the general secretary was to visit an exhibition on China’s renaissance. He brought all the members of China’s power centre, the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), with him and gave an important speech stressing the lesson China has learn from its miserable past: “lagging behind leaves one vulnerable to attacks and only development makes a nation strong”
Xi was quick to exploit the surge of patriotism caused by the disputes over the Diaoyus to gain support. It is his way to build up his power base.
He has lots to gain if China wins in its naval and air battles against Japan. The victory will help him in his efforts to build up his power base and remove his opponents.
He would lose nothing if China loses in the battles. The failure will justify his harsh measures in dealing with tricky domestic problems such as corruption and obstacles to reform on the grounds that such problems hinder development.
The first priority for a new leader in China is to establish his power base. As Hu Jintao has failed to establish a strong enough power base, he could not seize control of the PSC from Jiang Zemin, the core of the third collective leadership, in the two party congresses in 2007 and 2012.
Now, Jiang is 86. It is time for him to select a successor to him as the core of the fourth generation of collective leadership. Hu was selected by Deng Xiaoping. Jiang allowed Hu to succeed him as the general secretary and chairman of the Central Military Commission due to his respect to his mentor Deng Xiaoping.
Since Jiang has not treated Hu as his puppet and has his protégés in the PSC to help Hu in Hu’s work, perhaps Jiang at first wanted Hu to be his successor. However, Hu perhaps did not have such ambition or ability. During the decade Hu was in charge, Hu was not a leader strong enough so that he was challenged by Bo Xilai and others and unable to overcome the obstacles to reform.
The most serious problem is the rampant corruption under Hu’s rule.
Jiang’s dissatisfaction was first reflected in his close associate Zhu Rongji’s impromptu speech in Shanghai on January 18 (see my post The Mystery of Former Premier Breaking Silence)
The great importance that Jiang and his Shanghai faction attach to clean government is also reflected in their choice of Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang as successors to party general secretary and premier. They were obviously selected for their integrity.
Jiang’s choice of Xi as successor to him as the core was clearly shown in his choice of five of his PSC members who will retire in 2017. If Jiang wanted to remain in control, he would have chosen younger ones who will remain in the PSC after 2007. Obviously Jiang left the five seats to be chosen by Xi in 2017.
Xi may obtain his own majority in the PSC in 2017. What about the military?
Chinese military is always the first in wanting to fight. If Xi supports them and allow them to fight for the isles against Japan, Xi certainly will be very popular among the generals.
In my book “Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements”, I describe how by the Gulf War, the US helped Jiang in establishing his control of Chinese troops. Now, perhaps, Japan and the US will help Xi establish his control of Chinese troops and build his power base as the core in the conflicts over the small isles called the Diaoyus by China and Senkakus by Japan.
Since the war will benefit Xi Jinping, only restraint on the Japanese side may prevent the war, but as hardliners control Japanese politics, they will fight a war to maintain their popularity.
We can only hope that the war will be a limited one within the areas around the disputed islands and the UN, US, EU and Russia will mediate a ceasefire soon after the fighting begins.Sources: SCMP, Ming Pao, huanqiu.com, CCTV
- China’s Xi Jinping: A man of quick decision and actions (chinadailymail.com)
- Change of guard, but no change in policy; an in-depth analysis from India (chinadailymail.com)
- “Strong army” Xi: The other side of China’s reformer (blogs.ft.com)
- China’s New Party Head Solidifies Ties With Military on Guangdong Visit (theepochtimes.com)