What Abe wants and fears
Updated: 2013-02-26 22:10
The dilemma for the United States is it has no choice but to cooperate with China on the one hand, but it cannot help containing China on the other.
In a word, the ball is now in the US court, and how the situation in East Asia evolves depends on Washington, says an article in Shanghai-based Jiefang Daily. Excerpts:
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the US from Feb 22 to 24. Although he has only been in his current post for less than two months, he has vowed to strengthen the US-Japan alliance to respond to new "threats".
But he has yet to explain how he will strengthen the US-Japan alliance, what the alliance means today or what his top priority actually is.
It seems that Abe is trying his best to "flatter" the US to accommodate the US pivoting its strategy to the Asia-Pacific region and contain China's "expansion".
In fact, all Japanese, Chinese and the US people know well that Abe's words and actions are nothing more than swashbuckling tricks.
What Abe wants most is to take advantage of the US and free Japan from the Cairo and Potsdam proclamations. Abe is also desperately eager to amend Japan's Pacifist Constitution, which was drawn up by the US for Japan after the World War II to "normalize" Japan as a state and strive for Japan's "rights of collective self-defense".
If all of Abe's wishes are realized, Japan will presumably expand its military power and return to the militarist path.
The US wants to use Japan for its strategic purposes in East Asia. That Japan shows its loyalty and value to the US gives the US enough excuse to loosen its control and provide some convenience for the former vanquished country and current ally. As a result, Abe will get something from his visit of the US.
But the US has its "baseline" as a boss that it will never grant Japan an equal footing, let allow Japan to return to the militarist path or allow itself to be used by Japan. The US will never sacrifice itself as Japan's stepping stone. Otherwise, as the US media depicted it, the US will open a "Pandora's box" to indulge the Japanese evil to "regain its savagery", which will not only hurt China and the other Asian countries, but also the US. This is the "red line" that Abe will never cross.
Abe cannot explain how he intends to strengthen the US-Japan alliance.
First, times have changed. The target of the alliance is different from the Cold War era. The Soviet Union has long gone and China is rising rapidly and peacefully. There is no life-or-death fight today as that between the US and the Soviet Union. China respects the diversity of civilizations and seeks common development and mutually beneficial cooperation.
Although there is some friction in Sino-US relations, the most important bilateral ties in modern world are getting more stable and mature in the process of solving one problem after another. The interdependence of the US and China guarantees the practicability of the two parties exploring a new model of relations between big countries.
Surveys in the US in recent years also indicate that more US citizens regard China as a more important country to the US than Japan. US Secretary of State John Kerry also doubted the necessity of the US increasing its military power in the Asia-Pacific region. He also said the one important reason that the US pays attention to its Asia policies is that the US should strengthen its ties with China, a major economic power.
Japan's right-wing media is dissatisfied with Kerry's statements, and cannot understand why he thinks China offers more opportunities than challenges to the US.
This is Abe's greatest fear. The thawing and improving of Sino-US ties will diminish or render useless Abe's efforts to consolidate the US-Japan alliance. If so, as the Japanese media predicts, it may be gradually marginalized .
Abe actually has no reason to worry too much. In the foreseeable future, the US will use Japan and even support Japan to create tension with China.