Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

The New Cold War between the U.S. and China
KONDO Daisuke / Journalist

April 13, 2021
In my new book, "The New Cold War between the U.S. and China and the World after Corona - A Fact Based Prognosis" (Kodansha Gendaishinsho), I predicted 7 aspects of the new cold war which is escalating rapidly.
These "seven aspects" are (1) trade, (2) technology, (3) human rights, (4) finance, (5) epidemic, (6) diplomacy, and (7) military. The first U.S.-China senior official talks under the Biden administration, held in Alaska on March 18-19, could be categorized as a "diplomatic war" (aspect 6), but the U.S. and China debated furiously on all seven aspects.

Yang Jiechi, a member of the Central Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (Director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission), and Wang Yi, a State Councilor and Foreign Minister, strong condemned U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in their opening remarks at the talks. This "wolf warrior diplomacy" (diplomacy resembling the howling of a wolf) was repeatedly broadcast in Japan, and stunned many Japanese.

The Biden administration classifies relations with China into three categories: cooperative, competitive, and hostile. As time progresses, it is obvious that relations have deteriorated from cooperation to competition and finally to hostility. The Biden administration's stance that "humans are inherently good" can not be maintained with respect to China.

China is also certain to "follow our own path" in the future. General Secretary Xi Jinping intends to pursue the rigid socialism promoted by the "founding father" Chairman Mao Zedong whom he admires: 1.4 billion perfectly coordinated people on an unyielding path to a strong army and country.

Xi himself is planning head a long-term regime until 2035, with no intention of retiring at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China next fall. Thus, from the Chinese government officials' perspective, the boss in their home country is far more frightening than the world's strongest army in the U.S. Accordingly, even on diplomatic missions to the U.S., they are more concerned with impressing the boss living in Zhongnanhai (the residential and business area of the highest leadership in Beijing) than with the opinions of their U.S. counterparts.

This trend will surely continue to increase in the future. This was the same case in Japan during the first half of the Showa era, where in a controlled society, the hardliners had more influence than the moderates. Looking ahead, change in China may occur by choosing to go to war with the U.S. and losing like Japan did in the first half of the Showa era or by removing General Secretary Xi Jinping from the political scene. Previously, China finally changed course with the death of Chairman Mao Zedong in 1976.

However, assuming that all 1.4 billion Chinese people have the same ideology is incorrect. For example, a university professor in China whom I interviewed after the U.S.-China high-level talks expressed his opinion as follows: "What Yang Jienchi and Wang Yi did during these talks was not 'diplomacy', but 'breaking ties'. It reminded me of the Second Opium War (a.k.a., Arrow War, 1856-1860). The Empress Dowager Cixi, who controlled the Qing imperial court at the time, overestimated the power of her country and underestimated the power of Britain and France. To impress and flatter her, her subordinates provoked the English and French. In the end, the Old Summer Palace in Beijing was burned and the Chinese suffered a huge defeat.

It has taken awhile, but current China has reached two-thirds of the U.S. economic power and one-third of its military power. In order to follow Deng Xiaoping's counsel "tāoguāngyǎnghuì" (conceal one’s strengths and bide one’s time), China should avoid confrontation for another 10 years. Bearing fangs at the United States now will lead to a recurrence of the Second Opium War. "

In any case, Japan will be caught in the "turbulence" caused by the U.S. and China. Japan has many earthquakes, but we need to be concerned about a "different earthquake" in the near future.

Daisuke Kondo is a special editorial board member of Kodansha
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

近藤 大介 / ジャーナリスト

2021年 4月 13日









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English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > The New Cold War between the U.S. and China