Strateg ic rivalry
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Strateg ic rivalry book
The strategic rivalry between China and Japan, which was largely latent during the Cold War period, began to emerge in the 1990s and has gathered pace in the twenty-ﬁrst century. China’s growing economic and military power has given a sharper edge to its relations with a Japan perceived to be in relative decline. Long-standing disputes about maritime territorial claims have emerged as points of potential crisis. Japan’s alliance with the United States has also come under greater pressure as Washington seeks to engage China as a fellow global power, while at the same time reassuring Japan and persuading Beijing that its alliance with Tokyo is not aimed at China. At the same timeWashington’s reaction to greater Chinese assertiveness in Northeast and Southeast Asia may be seen as reassuring neither. Beijing is fearful of Washington combining with Tokyo to limit its rise even as Washington seeks its cooperation; and at the same time Tokyo fears that Washington will reverse on its commitment to help defend the islands so as to maintain workable relations with Beijing. Should military incidents take place between Chinese and Japanese naval vessels, American pledges to come to the aid of its ally could be put to the test. The United States could be expected to seek to avoid military clashes with China, especially over uninhabited rocky islands of little strategic importance to the US. Washington has used its inﬂuence to urge both sides to step back from open hostilities. In the process, however, it is entirely possible that the value of the alliance may be questioned in Japan. Such issues were less of a problem during the Cold War when American and Japanese strategic interests in confronting the Soviet Union were congruent. In the current era the strategic interests of the two allies are not as closely aligned and the broader strategic situation in Northeast Asia is more ﬂuid. The demise of the Soviet Union had freed both China and Japan from lingering fears
of an attack from the north and the end of the Cold War presaged a new re-positioning of the great powers and the unfettered expansion of the sweep of the forces of globalization . It was unde r these circ umstance s that, as we have seen in chapter 2, eac h of the countries began to forge new identities both at home and abroad. If China focused on developing the economy and becoming a great power, Japan was still circumscribed by the legacy of the “Yoshida Doctrine” in having to balance adherence to the Peace Constitution with being an eﬀective ally of the United States, but in a new, uncertain and more ﬂuid strategic situation. The new nationalism in China accentuated the growing divide with Japan, arousing negative responses from Japan. Japanese aspirations to becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council and their attempt to be a more useful military ally to the United States, combined with the reluctance of many Japanese leaders to come to terms with the country’s history of aggression towards China in particular, evoked suspicion and opposition in China.