China’s paltry aid for the Philippines

China so far has offered $100,000 in post-typhoon aid for the Philippines (plus another $100,000 through China’s Red Cross), far less than the $20 million from the US, $10 million from Japan and Australia each with those countries also sending rescue crews and air support. Even global bank HSBC is offering $1 million.

China’s stinginess is of course related to the ongoing dispute with the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal, which Manila has sent on to a UN maritime tribunal.

Reuters points out that lots of popular opinion in China is against offering aid:

Comments on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, overwhelmingly opposed China giving aid to the Philippines. “For God’s sake, give them nothing,” wrote one user. “We’ve given them enough in the past.”

Beijing’s behavior hasn’t gone unnoticed by the international community. And its fairly heartless response (clashing with notions of China the powerful and prosperous) puts China’s schoolyard pettiness on display. The undiplomatic attitude is not limited to China’s neighbors, either.

China is still upset at Norway over the Nobel Prize being awarded to Liu Xiaobo. Britain has only recently exited the Chinese doghouse, too, after PM David Cameron dared meet with the Dalai Lama.

It’s for this reason the Daily Telegraph’s Iain Martin opines:

This latest ethical and practical failure of leadership by China is another illustration of the way in which the country is struggling with its responsibilities as a growing global power. We must hope the situation improves as its economic power grows, and it might. Perhaps the Chinese elite will come to wear its power lightly and modestly; or perhaps not. In the interim, the governments of Western countries should avoid getting too starry eyed about China. Although the UK government should be trying to improve trade with the country, ministers should not be demeaning themselves, behaving like travelling salesmen and pushing deals at any cost. A little scepticism and realism about the limits of China’s modern miracle wouldn’t go amiss.

Japan says it acted within international law

The latest China-Japan incident took place “in the sea southeast of the Sakishima island chain,” Reuters reports.

Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said Japan “carried out the usual precautionary observations in accordance with international law.”

Onodera didn’t dispute China’s desire to carry out drills, according to Reuters.

“For China to carry out regular drills is not illegal, and for us to be cautious is also natural, I believe,” he said.

“It’s important to set up a Japan-China hot line so suspicion and mistrust doesn’t arise between the two sides.”


China ceding moral high ground with latest navy manueuvres

The latest maritime accusation on the high seas between China and Japan, involves the ‘interruption’ of China’s naval manueuvres by the Japanese. Yet, according to this piece of analysis by the Sydney-based Lowy Institute, one can argue that it is China who has taken a more provocative tack in the affair.

As the Rory Medcalf writes:

The PLA Navy has made a point of holding the exercise in the western Pacific, apparently somewhere south of Honshu, as part of a deliberate demonstration of its ability to ‘dismember’ the so-called ‘first island chain’ (which includes Japan and Taiwan).

He points to an October 23 comment on an official China ministry of defense website, which discusses the naval exercises. It quotes a senior researcher with the PLA Academy of Military Science, Sr. Colonel Du Wenlong:

the location of the exercise is one of the most sensitive sea areas with the most potential conflicts. The PLAN must be prepared for any unexpected combat operation in such an area.

According to Du Wenlong, breaking through the island chains has been quite normal for the PLAN. As far as the three major fleets of the PLAN are concerned, the “first island chain” [Japan and Taiwan] has already been “dismembered”. Moreover, he is looking forward to the three major fleets’ passing simultaneously through the Bashi Channel, the Osumi Strait and the Miyako Strait.

“The PLAN has cut up the whole island chains into multiple sections so that the so-called ‘island chains’ are not longer existent. As a geographical mark of trap and blockade, the mark of island chains has disappeared into history”, Du added.

And while discussing China-Japan disputes, it’s worth remembering that although the global media frequently refers to the September 2012 purchase of the three of the Senkaku/Diayou Islets by the Tokyo government as the escalation of their most nettlesome maritime dispute, that event really only marked the point when it rose to the global media’s sustained attention.

In 2010, for example, a Chinese fishing boat collision with Japanese patrol boats near the disputed islands.

Later, China and Japan had discussed a deal over the islands, which, according to an article in the Asahi Shinbum fell through as the members of negotiations on the Chinese side lost sway over the matter in the time of the Chinese leadership change. That underscores the still-developing nation status of China – the inability for the nation to split its foreign policy options from domestic concerns.

None of this, of course, excuses Japan for its actions in the past towards China. But the prospect of rise-and-avenge path for China doesn’t inspire much confidence in the region.

Meanwhile, between China and Japan….

The Chinese weren’t happy with the conclusions of the latest Japanese defense white paper, saying China’s military is “strongly discontented and resolutely against” the accusations contained in the paper.

And those accusations?

(from Reuters) The defense ministry report said: “China has attempted to change the status quo by force based on its own assertion, which is incompatible with the existing order of international law,” echoing recent comments by Abe and his cabinet.

“China should accept and stick to the international norms.”

The takeaway is, as the NYTimes writes:

Experts said the strongly worded statements on both sides may be

a precursor to worsening dynamics between the two countries as

each tries to outmaneuver the other in the region and talk each

other down in diplomatic settings.