The New China Faces the ‘New Japanese’


By: Nathan Gardels


A furious war of words was unleashed at the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore last weekend. The U.S. and Japan accused China of trying to change the status quo by coercion and intimidation; the Chinese accused Japan and the U.S. of inciting instability with its “20th century mentality” of war and conflict.

Following up on his comments in Singapore, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abewrites in The WorldPost that China ought to abide by the rule of law in the seas of Asia and calls for negotiations. Recalling the experience of World War II, Shanghai scholar/entrepreneur Eric X. Li mocks Abe’s pledge in Singapore that the “new Japanese” will help their neighbors resist Beijing. The great danger now, writes the Australian scholar Hugh White, is that the ground is being laid for a catastrophic clash since both sides in this conflict assume incorrectly that the other will back down. South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se fears a “Pandora’s box” is being opened in Asia. Marking the 25 years since the Tiananmen massacre, China scholar Perry Link worries that Xi Jinping is becoming “a Mao-like strongman.”

The Indian Congress Party’s enfant terrible, Shashi Tharoor, ignited a political firestorm in New Delhi with his WorldPost blog suggesting that his long-time adversary, the new Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was morphing into a modernizer who could move the country forward.

Reacting to the continuing horror stories of rape in rural India and elsewhere, the Pakistani activist and writer Bina Shah says that “there is an undeclared war against half the population of South Asia” who face insecurity in their daily lives. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown updates WorldPost readers on the schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram, now in captivity for more than 50 days.

Human rights activist Bianca Jagger documents how Brazil’s hosting of the World Cup has exposed manifold injustices in that giant emerging economy.

Filmmaker Astra Taylor writes of her concern that the Internet has been turned “from a tool of liberation into a tool of oppression” by the NSA and that digital corporate giants such as Google cooperate with it. Just returning from Beijing,Patrick Mendis explains how commercial spying and national security are intertwined with China’s state-owned enterprises just as there is a link between the U.S. security community and private American information companies.

Andrew Leigh, an Australian parliamentarian, describes how his country’s buy-back program has cut the death toll from gun violence. Finally, in an interview, Economisteditors John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge discuss their new book, “The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State.”

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