I have met Edward Luttwak, a renowned American strategist, and exchanged views with him in the past. The December 2018 issue of the magazine WiLL published an article by strategy scholar Masashi Okuyama, summarizing what Luttwak said during his visit to Japan in October. It was shockingly titled, “Luttwak Says the United States Will Destroy the Chinese Communist Party.” It read, “The Donald J. Trump administration is rethinking its China policy, and is in the middle of a Sino-American trade war. Now, it has arrived at a national strategy of destroying the Communist Party of China (CPC) government.”
The article gives four pieces of proof for this prediction. Number one is:
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a long-established thinktank, served a central role in discussions by diplomacy and national defense experts on the American government’s future policy. They agreed to view the CPC administration as hostile.
Number two is “Agreement among the military and diplomacy lobbies to take an anti-Chinese stance.” At the end of September, a U.S. Navy ship conducted a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) near the Spratly Islands. A Chinese vessel approached the American ship in an unsafe manner, and according to the article, military and diplomacy officials agree this is a challenge against American hegemony. Number three is “demands from the technology industry.” Chinese nationals who worked at IT companies like Apple and Google have brought back technologies and data to their native country. To prevent these crimes, the IT industry has apparently asked the FBI to permanently station agents in Silicon Valley. Number four is, “The American media is no longer ignoring the human rights violations by the CPC.” In September, The New York Times published a special feature on increasingly fierce oppression in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. This has inspired greater criticism of the CPC among the American people. Vice President Mike Pence also criticized the Chinese government vehemently, saying, “Beijing is holding hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions, of Uyghur Muslims in so-called ‘re-education camps,’ where they’re forced to endure around-the-clock political indoctrination.” The American government has previously brought up human rights issues in China, but only the Trump administration has engaged in full-fledged criticism and even used tariffs as sanctions.
Recently, antagonism has intensified between the Republican and Democratic Parties about the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The American people and Congress have been divided since Trump’s inauguration, but there is bipartisan agreement only on the question of the China policy. The U.S. will likely continue its all-out bashing of China, regardless of the results of the Congressional midterm election.
I feel this is definitely the beginning of a new cold war between the U.S. and China.
The November 13, 2018 issue of Newsweek included an article by journalist Daisuke Kondo, entitled, “President Xi Jinping’s Naval Dreams.” It describes in detail the American and Chinese intentions suggested by the boat incident that was mentioned in the WiLL article.
Underneath the subtitles, “Close Encounter Enrages Pence,” and, “Reasons for Focusing on the South China Sea, Taiwan, and Senkaku Islands Despite the Threat of a New Cold War,” it starts with an explanation of what happened in the South China Sea:
The Chinese ship continued making aggressive maneuvers, and the Decatur warned it to leave the area. The Chinese ship finally came within approximately 41 meters of the Decatur, which had to change its course to prevent a collision.
On October 4, Pence responded as follows:
Pence first referred to Xi’s statement in September 2015 at the White House Rose Garden, when he said China has no plans to militarize the South China Sea. However, China is actually building military bases on artificial islands, and deploying advanced anti-ship and anti-air missiles. He criticized China for this aggressive near miss with the Decatur, saying, “Despite such reckless harassment, the U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate […] We will not be intimidated; we will not stand down.”
The U.S. Navy has implemented at least 12 FONOPs since the month after Xi boasted that China has no intent to militarize the South China Sea.
However, China appears unconcerned about these American restraints:
Xi said that building a strong navy has “never been more pressing” in this era when China is enhancing its territorial waters, and that it will confer important security for the great revitalization of the nation. Xi boasted that, under the strong leadership of the CPC, the navy will move vigorously throughout the ocean, proceed bravely into the distant seas, embark on a trend of major development, and achieve great things that will make the world gaze in wonder.
This article states that China is attempting to build a triangular area of dominion, covering three points in the South China Sea (including artificial islands in the Spratly Islands), for a military balance with the U.S. Armed Forces.
Another reason China is strengthening its naval power is because “Xi intends to integrate Taiwan during his term of office:”
On March 11, 2018, Xi successfully had the constitution reformed at the National People’s Congress to abolish the presidential term limit of two terms (10 years). At the 19th National Congress of the CPC in October 2017, he failed at having the clause prohibiting personality cults removed from the Party Constitution. So how did he successfully bring an end to the presidential term limit? The author can only assume Xi persuaded the elders that he would absolutely integrate Taiwan during his term.
Right after Xi’s showy naval review on the Changsha, the PLC conducted a large-scale “encirclement” exercise around Taiwan. The Liaoning moved into the east side of the Bashi Channel (separating Taiwan and the Philippines) for a full-fledged attack and defense drill in the western Pacific Ocean. Two bombers passed between Okinawa’s Main Island and Miyako Island into the western Pacific Ocean, and then returned to China through the Bashi Channel. A live-ammunition exercise also took place offshore Fujian in the Taiwan Strait.
In response to these Chinese actions, the Trump administration has gone beyond the framework of past administrations to step up its political and military participation in Taiwan (under President Tsai Ing-wen). Accordingly, Taiwan is becoming a second “powder keg” after the South China Sea between the U.S. and China.
This article concludes:
The Sino-American trade war is escalating, and people have started talking about a new cold war between the two nations. These three powder kegs (the South China Sea, Taiwan, and Senkaku Islands) could explode at any time.
China has continually encroached upon its neighbors since the country was founded. It invaded Tibet in 1948, and one theory says it killed 1.2 million Tibetans. It sent “volunteer troops” to take part in the Korean War, which the Soviet Union instigated Kim Il Sung to start, in 1950. The Sino-Indian war took place in 1962. The Sino-Soviet border conflict, a military conflict over territorial rights to Damansky Island and other locations, occurred in 1969. Deng Xiaoping dispatched troops to Vietnam to punish it for invading Cambodia in 1979, resulting in the outbreak of the Sino-Vietnamese War. The Chinese army was met with fierce counterattacks by the Vietnamese army – which had lots of combat experience with the U.S. and abundant equipment – so it was forced to withdraw. China has established its land borders while experiencing conflict with the countries it touches. China’s next aim is maritime hegemony and unification with Taiwan, as the Newsweek article describes. The media reported that Chinese navy leaders suggested to U.S. Pacific Command Admiral Timothy J. Keating that China and the U.S. divide and rule the Pacific Ocean, with Hawaii as the middle point, in 2007. In 2017, Xi referred to this concept in a joint press conference with Trump, when he said, “The Pacific Ocean is big enough to accommodate both China and the U.S.” China is aiming to gain global hegemony by 2049 as part of its “Hundred-Year Marathon” plan, and I think it is clear that China is augmenting its naval strength and moving into the Pacific Ocean as the first step.
Today, the PLC can fight on land, but it lacks control of the sea or air. The Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) still have superior aerial warfare strength in collaboration with the U.S. Armed Forces. But the Chinese army is accelerating its introduction of fifth-generation jet fighters, and it will be on par with Japan in the not-so-distant future. In terms of naval power, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) surpasses the Chinese navy because of cooperation with the U.S. Navy based on the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, and the JMSDF has control of the seas near Japan. However, China has the Liaoning, its first aircraft carrier, and has already launched a domestically produced aircraft carrier with another under construction. If China continues reinforcing its navy at this pace, it will prove a major threat to Japan.
China and the U.S. are engaged in subtle tactics regarding North Korea. Trump and Kim Jong Un held a summit meeting in June of this year, where they released a joint statement declaring that the Korean Peninsula will be fully denuclearized. However, the U.S. has handled North Korea in an ambiguous manner since then, and I wonder if it actually intends to make North Korea fully abandon its nuclear weapons. The U.S.’s goal is to place checks on China. North Korea’s nuclear weapons were originally aimed at China. Knowing this, China wanted to somehow hinder the North Korean nuclear program. In 2004, Kim Jong Il was called to Beijing and asked to halt nuclear development, which he refused. The Chinese side plotted to remove Kim Jong Il. The plan was to assassinate Kim Jong Il by blowing up his entire train on the way home from Beijing with 800 tons of TNT (the equivalent of a small nuclear bomb) at Ryongchon Station. It is thought that a Kim Jong Il dummy was riding on the train, and that Russia or the U.S. provided information to help him escape. Kim Jong Il realized that nuclear weapons were the only way to protect himself, and he carried out the first successful nuclear test in 2006 (although it was imperfect). Afterwards, North Korea conducted six nuclear tests and even has hydrogen bombs. Still, the U.S., Russia, and China are nuclear powers with huge quantities of nuclear weapons, and North Korean nuclear arms do not pose a significant threat to them. I think the U.S. is looking to maintain a nuclear balance of power with China by permitting North Korea to be a latent nuclear country – in other words, the U.S. will tacitly allow North Korea’s concealed nuclear weapons, in exchange for North Korea not developing or possessing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and not manufacturing or testing any nuclear weapons in the future. Trump’s recent statements about Kim Jong Un invite this type of speculation. Of course, this would be a major threat to Japan. If North Korea secretly had nuclear weapons, it might use South Korea under Moon Jae-in (who wants to reconcile with North Korea) to unite the two Koreas into a federation with a “one country, two systems” policy. As the advance guard of China, it could serve to menace Japan. Perhaps this Korean Federation would also demand that Japan pay several trillion yen of compensation to North Korea as reparations for the period before and after World War II. If Japan does provide this compensation, I think North Korea would further enhance its military power. The Japanese government must collect information, and there is absolutely no need to pay any reparations, considering the extensive infrastructure from the prewar era that still exists in North Korea. Japan must maintain a maximum level of vigilance.
Nuclear weapons are posing a remarkably greater threat to Japan as China expands into the South and East China Seas – as well as the Pacific Ocean – and as North Korea makes movements to establishing the Korean Federation. It is fully possible that Japan might become a Chinese autonomous region in the near future. To prevent this, Japan must augment its military strength and become a country capable of independent self-defense. We will have to reform the constitution for that purpose. Japan has not enjoyed peace thanks to Article 9, but rather because of the balance of power in East Asia backed by American military strength according to the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. As China ascends, constitutional change to preserve this balance is a pressing issue. It is unclear if powers in favor of constructional change will occupy two thirds of the seats in the House of Councillors after next year’s election. Today Diet members in favor of constitutional change hold more than two thirds of the seats in the upper and lower houses, and motions should be submitted in both houses. To gain a majority of votes in the national referendum held within six months after that, if necessary the House of Representatives should be dissolved and a double election held. First, we should revise the constitution based on the current one – which people believe cannot ever be amended – before moving to full-scale amendment (including removing the second clause of Article 9) and the creation of an independent constitution. We must have a correct view of the world as we reconsider our history to understand what actually happened, and stop textbooks, TV programs, and newspapers from repeatedly engaging in mistaken education and reporting.
As expected, the Democratic Party (the opposition party) took the House of Representatives in the November midterms. But the Republican Party (the ruling party) was victorious in the Senate. I think Trump will face difficulties in Congress, such as budget approval in the House. However, his diplomacy is evaluated fairly well, and I think he will stay on his current course. Fewer seats were lost in the House in this first midterm election compared to past presidents, and Trump has solidified his foundation for winning re-election. As Luttwak points out, the U.S. is taking a firmer stance against China. The U.S. and Japan must build new, collaborative relations during the terms of Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who have a good relationship. To that end, Japan should revise the Three Non-Nuclear Principles (a Diet resolution), and conclude a nuclear sharing agreement with the U.S. like its arrangement with the four North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries. Nuclear sharing was started in the heyday of the Cold War in Europe, and it will be similarly necessary in Japan (which is located in East Asia) now that the U.S. and China are engaged in a new cold war. We must also develop cutting-edge, scientific weapons, and work to enhance our offensive as well as defensive weapons, for military strength of a level on par with China and North Korea. Now that a new Sino-American cold war is imminent, Japan must have pragmatic discussions on national security – and create a realistic national defense plan based on them – to avoid becoming a Chinese autonomous region.
November 20 (Tuesday), 18:00