On July 14th, Japan said that it was closely monitoring attempts by China to boost its global influence and was “relentlessly” attempting to undermine Tokyo’s administration of the Senkaku islands.
This outlined in a defense white paper by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government which criticized Beijing for “relentlessly” attempting to undermine Tokyo’s administration of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
This was further made worse by the supposed fact that it was taking place when COVID-19 response needed to be internationally coordinated.
With the international community grappling with the pandemic, a further spread of the virus “may expose and intensify strategic competition among countries intending to create international and regional orders more preferable to themselves and to expand their influence,” the white paper said.
But, at the same time, the aid that China was providing to countries all around was also an attempt to further its influence.
So it wasn’t doing enough to counter the virus internationally, but anything it did to counter was only to further its influence, in an apparent Catch-22 scenario.
According to the White Paper, China has been “taking advantage” of its virus-related assistance to other nations in an attempt to advance its political and economic interests, and that Beijing has been engaging in propaganda work such as “spreading disinformation” amid social unrest and confusion sparked by the pandemic.
“Despite protests by our country, Chinese official ships repeatedly intruded into our territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands,” the paper said, according to Kyodo News Agency.
The white paper also referred to China’s unilateral creation of two administrative districts in the South China Sea, in which Beijing has overlapping claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Together with militarization of outposts in disputed areas of the strategic waterway, China uses such nonmilitary means to force shifts in the regional status quo, drawing the ire of other claimants, especially as countries are focusing on steps to respond to the pandemic, according to the paper.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian criticized the report, telling reporters in Beijing the government had lodged a complaint with Tokyo.
“Japan’s defense white paper is full of biases and false information,” Zhao said, according to Reuters. “It is trying to do all it can to hype up the so-called China threat.”
And this paper comes just one day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated the official US position of rejecting any maritime claims by China in the South China Sea.
In this year’s white paper, China is given as the justification for Japan’s increasing militarization, while in last year’s one it was North Korea.
“For more than a year, North Korea has carried out a series of tests in which it fires short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan. The weapons aren’t considered dangerous in the way longer-range weapons are, and they have been theorized to be tests for a new type of rocket artillery,” said the 2019 white paper.
But it is also very apparent that North Korea really has no interest in striking, or invading Japan, and the only potential target for any sort of aggression are the increasing number of US military facilities that are being established in Japan, in addition to South Korea.
This, however, is a result of Japan’s own internal and international policy, and not a result of North Korea’s intentional antagonism of it, since there doesn’t appear to be any.
At the same time, the contradicting accusations towards China also provide a somewhat clear example of an attempt to build up an enemy from the ground, similarly to what the US has done for a while with countries throughout the world and, mostly, Russia.
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