Ahead of its national assembly’s annual meeting, the Chinese have warned the Japanese that they would be responsible if any clash arose from the swarm of patrol boats and planes operating around the Senkaku-Diaoyu Islands.
The actual words were : Japan would “be held solely responsible for all consequences.”
This occurs as there are reports of China positioning land-based missiles near the islands. And those reports come after Shinzo Abe’s visit to the US garnered sharp comments from the Chinese. All of which says: there doesn’t look there is much room for a climb down on the side of the Chinese.
There are many ways in which a new cold war, or cool war, if you prefer, will not look like the old Cold War. Technology, interconnectivity, globaliztion – as long as it lasts. Shinzo Abe’s visit to Washington underscores one aspect which is a throw-back to the old Cold War: the scrutiny of language. This became clear when Abe’s people backtracked from some candid comments Abe made about the political legitimacy of the Communist Party of China.
What’s interesting is Abe’s assessment that equality had failed in China and a policy of hating Japan had emerged in its place.
It’s also important that the Abe government’s backtracking came after the Chinese took issue with his statements.
This means the diplomatic pressure is not just about what countries do but say. And if leaders have to be circumspect about their views, then look for more code words to take their place – like during the Cold War. And the natural outgrowth of that is an eventual ideology that takes the place of what leaders can’t say in public. Like how in the Cold War, Americans would decry the lack of free speech in the Soviet Bloc, while Communists would attack race relations in the US, which were, in their mind, a symbol of capitalist decline.
Another area where I think will be an increasing split in language is in the ideology and purpose of technology- and you can see that issue just flaring now around the not-so-secret business of PLA hacking of Western trade secrets.