Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Fumio Ota

【#517】China Creating Its Own International Standards

Fumio Ota / 2018.06.06 (Wed)

June 4, 2018

     Shangri-La Dialogue 2018, an Asian security summit attended by defense ministers and senior military officers, took place in Singapore last weekend. Until two years ago, China had sent a general or an admiral at the level of deputy chief of the general staff as its delegate to the annual meeting but has lowered the rank of its delegate to the deputy chief of a military think tank since last year. As China has tended to come under fire at Shangri-La Dialogue where I was also invited to attend several years ago, it has ceased to send anyone who can influence policymaking. Instead, China has sponsored its own security conference called Xiangshan Forum since several years ago, inviting pro-China foreign dignitaries such as former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

The expert in battle moves the enemy, and not moved by him
     “The expert in battle moves the enemy, and not moved by him.” This saying is from Chapter 6: Weaknesses and Strengths in “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu, one of favorite books of Chinese President Xi Jinping. The saying means that you should take the initiative to put your enemy under your control and should not be put under enemy control. In line with the saying, China created the “Confucius Peace Prize” to counter the Nobel Committee’s decision to give the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to emulate the Asian Development Bank and is attempting to make the Chinese Yuan, or renminbi, an international currency.
     India, which had not sent any influential delegate to Shangri-La Dialogue, was represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi this time, who delivered a keynote address on the night of the first day. A few days before Shangri-La Dialogue, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced to rename the U.S. Pacific Command as “the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command” at the Change of Command ceremony of the U.S. Pacific Command. This move dovetails with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” for strategic thinking of integrating the Indian and Pacific Oceans, as announced at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development in August 2016. Prime Minister Modi’s “Act East” policy giving weight to India’s relations with Southeast Asia and East Asia is compatible with Prime Minister Abe’s Indo-Pacific Strategy. Linking the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean is the South China Sea where China has proceeded with militarization while confronting with regional countries as well as the United States and Japan. China may not welcome the moves toward a Japan-U.S. -India solidarity.
     At Shangri-La Dialogue, the Japanese, U.S. and Australian defense ministers met and agreed that the international community should assert any unilateral actions to change the status quo or increase tensions in the South China Sea cannot be tolerated. I would note the ongoing realization of Japan-led quadrilateral cooperation between Japan, the U.S., Australia and India.
China assigning blame to others
     At Shangri-La Dialogue, Secretary Mattis criticized China for its “intimidation and coercion” in the South China Sea. In response, Lieutenant General He Lei, deputy president of China's People's Liberation Army's Academy of Military Science, described the United States as the “source of militarization” for an incomprehensible reason that the U.S. freedom of navigation operation represents the militarization of the South China Sea.
     Such Chinese response coincides with Beijing’s position on the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. China has blamed Japan for the territorial dispute over the Senkakus.

Fumio Ota is a JINF Planning Committee Member and retired Vice Admiral of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force.