Saturday, December 11, 2004

Geo-strategy watch: focus on East Asia 

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The action:
"The European Union yesterday refused a Franco-German request to lift its arms embargo on China amid fierce disagreements over the country's human rights record and military ambitions...

"Sanctions were imposed in 1989 after the Tiananmen Square massacre. France has led the drive to lift them, deeming it misguided to treat an emerging economic superpower - and the host of the next Olympic Games - as a pariah state.

"Behind the French move is a subtle attempt to draw China into a strategic alliance to counter American power."
(hat tip: Dan)


Item 1:
"Japan took another step away from its post-World War II pacifism yesterday by ending its decades-old ban on military exports and telling defence planners to regard China and North Korea as threats.

"Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's Cabinet agreed to allow military sales – only to the US and for missile defence – a day after it extended Japan's ground-breaking deployment to Iraq for another year."
Item 2:
"Japanese troops could soon be training with Diggers [Australian soldiers] on Australian soil for the first time as part of a move to forge closer military ties...

"Although only in the early stages, the contentious military training talks, which have not reached ministerial level, are certain to divide war veterans and others in the community.

"It could also pose problems for Canberra's burgeoning relationship with China - including the pursuit of a free trade deal - given ongoing tensions between Beijing and Tokyo...

"Allowing Japanese troops to train in Australia would be viewed dimly by China, which is likely to become Australia's biggest trading partner over the next decade."
As the story points out, antagonizing China is not the only potential downside - Australia's veterans community is strongly anti-Japanese, a testament to the fierce and savage nature of fighting in the Pacific theater, as well as abominable treatment of Allied POWs by their Japanese captors. This is one World War Two legacy which has neither seen a closure nor benefited from reconciliation.

Back to the broader point - watch as France keeps courting China, and Russia keeps courting India, both moves clearly a part of anti-American coalition building. The matters are complicated, of course, by the fact that India and China, in turn, are traditional enemies. I guess nothing in international life was meant to be easy.


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