The Advent of a New Age of Imperialism

Seiji Fuji

Abolishing the Chinese presidential limit of two terms (10 years) and moving towards lifetime dictatorship

 The top headline on the front page of The Yomiuri Shimbun’s March 6 edition read, “Xi Jinping Establishes Unipolar Structure.” On the same day, the Sankei Shimbun ran an article entitled, “Xi Reforms Constitution for Long-term Power Base” on the third page. It contained detailed information about the new structure that President Xi is aiming for. It also focused on the promotion of Wang Qishan, Xi’s close friend who was institutionally removed last year from his position in the party at the age of retirement (68), to important offices such as vice president. Wang worked to purge members of the Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao factions, and it is thought that he will serve as a “shield” to guard against resentment directed at Xi, who is concentrating his political authority in a unipolar way. However, I believe Xi will inspire further bitterness, and that the potential will grow of him being assassinated and China experiencing domestic conflict and division. On the same day, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported that China’s national defense budget for this year is 8.1% higher than the previous year’s. I imagine all of this news is making the United State feel nervous.
 Also on March 6, Yukan Fuji newspaper published an article about the National People’s Congress (NPC) entitled, “American Restraints on Xi, Showing Increasing Signs of Dictatorship.” It gave details about the American response:

Chinese President Xi has taken steps towards becoming a dictator for life. The 13th NPC, the congress of China, opened in Beijing on March 5, and it is expected that a constitutional reform plan will be deliberated and passed to abolish the president’s term limit. American President Donald J. Trump responded with strong sarcasm, calling Xi a “great gentleman.” A nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was sent to Vietnam on the day of the NPC. A prominent view says that efforts are underway to build an encirclement against China led by the U.S.
On March 3, Trump held a private lunch at Mar-a-Lago, his luxury villa in Florida, where he joked that Xi has become president for life, called him a “great gentleman,” and suggested the U.S. should try the same. American news outlet CNN obtained and publicized a recording of his statements.
The U.S. is displaying a sense of caution in the military realm as well.
On March 5 (the first day of the NPC), the USS Carl Vinson, the most powerful nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in the U.S. Navy, was anchored off the coast of Danang in central Vietnam. This port call to Vietnam is the first by an American aircraft carrier since the Vietnam War ended in 1975. It is highly possible that this is a way of restraining China, which is building military bases in the South China Sea.
International political scientist Genki Fujii said, “By abolishing the presidential term limit, China is giving stronger signs of being a dictatorship, and it is making its neighboring countries into imperialistic vassal states. Cambodia and Laos are steadily becoming Chinese vassals. There is also the South China Sea issue, and the danger that Vietnam will lose its independence. Trump is naturally feeling warier. I think the U.S. is trying to build an encirclement against China with Japan and Vietnam.

 Since Xi became president in 2013, I have mentioned him occasionally in my Essays on Today’s Japan, Wine Tasting and Discussion About Japan articles, and Big Talk. I will share some excerpts from these past articles to look at how Xi’s ambitions have changed.
 I first brought up Xi in my December 2012 essay (written on October 19 of that year):

China has stirred up many revolts, intruded into Japan’s territorial waters, and opposed Japan’s nationalization of the Senkaku Islands. The background of these things is the National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) scheduled to take place in November, in which Xi will assume his office as the party’s new general secretary after Hu. Xi is a member of the Crown Prince Party (children of high-level CPC leaders) that contains the successors to Jiang, the previous general secretary who has regained his vitality recently. He is a clear departure from Hu, who comes from the Communist Youth League of China. Conflict between the Crown Prince Party and Communist Youth League of China is always taking place behind the scenes in Chinese politics.

 In the March 2013 Wine Tasting and Discussion About Japan (event held on January 8, 2013), I analyzed the Xi structure from the viewpoint of conflict between the Crown Prince Party (“Princelings”) and Communist Youth League:

China has a unique national structure; it is a one-party state ruled by the CPC, which possesses the army and the country. It is entirely different from Japan and other democratic nations. We must not forget this. Much of China’s current infrastructure was built with Japanese Official Development Aid (ODA). Other countries would clearly state that Japanese ODA was used for construction and express gratitude to Japan, but China does not. The issue is that Jiang previously implemented an excessively anti-Japanese patriotic movement. Jiang had no conspicuous military record or party history – he was a local secretary selected by the influential Deng Xiaoping. To cover up his background, Jiang turned to an extreme anti-Japanese stance. And even after Hu became president, Jiang ruled from behind the scenes without stepping down from some of his positions. Hu declared that he will retire from all of his posts, and Jiang had to step down as well. However, even in the new Xi structure, there are many people that seem to be Princelings under the influence of Jiang. When the next change of leadership takes place in five years, I think it is highly possible that many people from the Communist Youth League (which Hu is a member of) will be put in important offices.
Abe is different from the weak DPJ, which immediately apologized

 The Senkaku Islands became a major issue between Japan and China from the latter days of the Yoshihiko Noda administration in 2012.
 Big Talk in the May 2013 issue (dialogue took place on February 6, 2013):

(Toshio Motoya) In Japan’s case, all of our neighboring countries – including the U.S., China, North Korea, and Russia – have nuclear arms. China aimed a re-control radar at a Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) ship near the Senkaku Islands; the background of this as well is the power of nuclear weapons. In 2010, North Korea bombed Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island. It has also become a nuclear state by carrying out nuclear testing in 2006 and 2009. It was said all over that the bombardment was directed by Kim Jong Un – he became the most powerful person in North Korea due to the glory from this “achievement.” In the same way, Xi is attempting to gain glory by using military power to place pressure on Japan, and to strengthen his authority as China’s supreme leader. It is dangerous to carry out military movements against a country that possesses nuclear weapons, so perhaps he thinks it will be safe to menace Japan – which has none – to some degree. The JSDF are actually superior to China’s army in terms of navy and air power, but China is displaying a self-assured attitude because Japan lacks nuclear weapons.

 Wine Tasting and Discussion About Japan in the December 2013 issue (event held on August 28, 2013):

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi has yet to seize control of the army and Communist Youth League, and is not displaying clear leadership in the government. That is why he is aiming his attack at Japan, which certainly cannot strike back. The weak Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) immediately apologized, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is different. China raised its fist, but now it has nowhere for it to land and it cannot play the anti-Japanese card any longer. The Chinese side talking about shelving the issue will put an end to the dispute over the Senkaku Islands.

 Big Talk in the June 2014 issue (dialogue took place on April 4, 2014):

(Motoya) I think China uses Japan to create civilian solidarity and establish a structure under Xi; no one knows when China will split apart and fall into civil war.
(Masanori Mizuma) Two attempted assassinations have already been carried out against Xi, and he is certainly frightened. Surprisingly, the U.S. doesn’t understand that China is attempting to move into the Pacific Ocean. Chinese people believe the U.S. will belong to them 200 years in the future.

 Moreover, Xi has begun controlling the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
 Wine Tasting and Discussion About Japan in the July 2014 issue (event held on May 14, 2014):

China is also changing with the widespread use of the Internet by young people. No one in China believes in communism. It seems like the government, which was centered on the emperor since ancient times, was transformed into a government centered on the CPC. China’s population numbers more than 1.3 billion, and it is engaging in the first attempt in history to govern a country including many different ethnic groups.
Xi has not yet gained control of the military authorities, and a power struggle is underway between the CPC and PLA. In particular, China is recently talking about “shadow banking” regulations, and the PLA is behind these shadow banks. Going forward, the timing of China’s collapse will be decided by whether Xi can eradicate the Jiang faction and control the military. Japan must be wary of this and maintain a close watch.
Over 250,000 CPC members have been arrested in an anti-corruption campaign

  Xi initially espoused extreme anti-Japanese sentiments, but his stance against Japan has changed as he gained more authority.
 Wine Tasting and Discussion About Japan in the September 2014 issue (event held on July 9, 2014):

It is thought the 2004 train explosion at Ryongchon Station was an attempt by Jiang to kill Kim Jong Il. The China-North Korea relationship changed greatly after that incident. I suspect that Kim Jong Un executing his uncle Jang Song Thaek and starting to distance himself from China is a legacy from his father, Kim Jong Il. North Korea, which was a Chinese vassal state, has changed significantly since its successful nuclear tests. Many people hope that the abduction victims will be returned to Japan, but I think the U.S. (which is frightened of nuclear weapons and missiles) would strongly object to this relationship growing too much and the restoration of Japanese-North Korean diplomatic relations. Right now, Abe is skillfully exchanging arguments with the U.S. while continuing discussions with North Korea.

 Big Talk in the August 2015 issue (dialogue took place on May 11, 2015):

(Motoya) As shown by the expression of Xi, as he sensed the closeness between the U.S. and Japan, during the Japan-China summit meeting in April, China is rapidly changing its attitude and is attempting to cozy up to Japan. Only South Korea presently views Japan as an enemy. South Korea still insists on the historical falsehood that Japan forcibly transported 200,000 women from the Korean Peninsula, even though comfort women were legal according to Japanese laws of that time. Yet the South Korean soldiers committed acts of violence against many local women during the Vietnam War, which people say has resulted in more than 10,000 children of mixed blood known as “Lai Dai Han.” The former Japanese Army, which tried to fight according to international laws to the utmost degree, did not produce many children of mixed blood like that.

 Xi finally gained control of the PLA through his 2015 anti-corruption struggle, and he triumphantly put on a military parade in September.
 From Big Talk in the November 2015 issue (dialogue took place on September 4, 2015):

(Motoya) Xi has continually carried out an anti-corruption movement to establish his own power, and has finally gained control of the army as well. I suspect the military parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of China’s war defeat over Japan, which took place on September 3, was based on this. They say China beat Japan, but Japan did not fight with the CPC. Up until now China has held a foundation day parade every ten years, but it was not able to wait until 2019, the 70th anniversary of the country’s foundation. In any case, it seems the Chinese economy is in a difficult situation to the degree that China must enhance its national prestige.

 Wine Tasting and Discussion About Japan in the November 2015 issue (event held on September 9, 2015):

Xi is conducting a political purge of the Jiang and Hu factions under the pretext of a “fight against corruption.” He has finally gained control of the military through these anti-corruption purges of top figures. However, the anti-corruption campaign is the main cause of the current Chinese recession. Civil servants across China cannot do anything because they are afraid of being seen as corrupt. However, Xi is not concerned about the critical situation of the impoverished national economy – he is solely focused on maintaining his own authority. In this way he is like Mao Zedong, who implemented the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, killing tens of millions of people.

 Big Talk in the January 2016 issue (dialogue took place on November 6, 2015):

(Kent Gilbert) Mark Lippert, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, was attacked by a hoodlum wielding a knife in March 2015. This may have shown Barack Obama just what kind of country South Korea is. China held a military parade in September to celebrate the 70th anniversary of its war victory, where Xi gave a speech that was full of lies. South Korean President Park Geun-hye also nonchalantly attended this parade. I am sure Obama once again realized that Japan is the most trustworthy country, and he probably gained new determination not to give the South China Sea to China.
 In 2016, Xi’s ambition to concentrate his political power became even more striking.

 August 2016 essay (written on June 16, 2016):

In China, Xi, the head of state, is aiming to concentrate power with techniques that are reminiscent of the anti-corruption struggle and the Mao era. He has already seized control of the military. It now seems like he may try and make China into his own personal empire without relinquishing power at the end of his 10-year term in office.
 November 2016 essay (written on September 9, 2016):
The Chinese president’s term of office is five years, with a maximum of two terms (10 years). This has been maintained by both Jiang and Hu, who were chosen with the endorsement of Deng. However, Xi, who has no direct connection to Deng, is taking charge of the army and working to purge the Hu and Jiang factions in a power struggle he calls a “fight against corruption.” Even if he steps down as president after two terms (10 years) in 2022, it is highly probable that he will rule from behind the scenes without giving up his position as party chairman or Central Military Commission chairman, aiming to create the “Empire of Xi.” However, dissatisfaction is rampant due to Xi’s arrest and punishment of more than 250,000 CPC members in the name of “anti-corruption,” and it seems likely that maintaining the actual country of China until that point may be difficult.
 February 2017 essay (written on December 5, 2016):
At the 18th Central Committee’s 6th Plenary Session in October 2016, Xi was named the “core” leader of the party. Only two people have been given this title up until now: Mao and Deng. I think Xi aims to emulate these two men to seize strong authority and maintain his political power for a long period. Up until now there has been a new Chinese president every 10 years, including Jiang and Hu, but I wonder if Xi intends to build his own empire without giving up his position as chairman of the party and Central Military Commission, even if he does step down as president. Some national leaders attach absolutely no importance to human rights, including of course North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and more recently Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte.

 In 2017, a new type of imperialism suddenly rose to power across the world. Along with the North Korea crisis, China is conspicuously setting forth a doctrine of hegemonism.
 Big Talk in the May 2017 issue (dialogue took place on March 2, 2017):

(Motoya) Looking at the world today, it looks like a new era of imperialism is dawning and it may be only natural for the U.S. to put itself first. Russia is becoming the Empire of Vladimir Putin, China the Empire of Xi, and the U.S. the Empire of Trump.
 February 2018 essay (written on December 11, 2017):
The Korean Federation would eventually become a Chinese vassal state and serve as the advance guard to keep putting pressure on Japan. Japan would likely become an autonomous region of China like Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang Uygur, and Tibet. This would fulfill the ulterior purpose of Xi – the arrogant proposal made to the U.S. about dividing and ruling the Pacific Ocean, with China controlling the area west of Hawaii and the U.S. the area east of Hawaii. The North Korea crisis is a life-and-death emergency for Japan, and it must sufficiently demonstrate to other countries that it has the will to resolve its own problems.

The U.S. prepares for all-out war even when carrying out limited military action

 As I have predicted in Apple Town over the past five years, Xi – who did not become president with the approval of Deng, unlike Jiang and Hu – is steadily building a foothold for his empire by weakening the powers that are hostile to him through his fight against corruption. At the NPC, Xi is attempting to abolish the past presidential term limit (two terms, totaling 10 years) and retain political power for a long period of time. We can describe this international situation as the advent of a new era of imperialism, and tension is only growing in East Asia.
 The U.S. Armed Forces prepare for all-out war even when carrying out limited military action, which takes from seven to eight months. Some have thought that the U.S. would immediately take military action against North Korea, but that would be impossible.
 North Korea’s nuclear program is a means of self-defense against a Chinese invasion, and it has already succeeded. Right now, the potential is growing that South Korea will surrender to North Korea, creating the “Korean Federation” that possesses nuclear weapons. If North Korea is going to launch a nuclear attack against a country that cannot retaliate with nuclear weapons, its target will be Japan, not its compatriot of South Korea. Japan has been hit with two atomic bombs, and I think it is highly possible that it will be hit by nuclear weapons once again. I think that China (as the Empire of Xi) would eventually use the Korean Federation to threaten Japan and incorporate it into Greater China as a way to build a nation that can surpass the U.S. Now is the time for Japan to revise its constitution to recognize the JSDF as an army, enter into a nuclear sharing arrangement with the U.S., and maintain a nuclear balance. National Diet members, including many local assembly members, should unite to carry out a great national movement. They should propose constitutional reform in the Diet, hold a national referendum, and powerfully forge ahead with constitutional change.

March 9 (Friday), 6:00 p.m.