Japan Must Deal With China on an Equal Footing That Doesn’t Countenance its Reckless Actions

Seiji Fuji

The world has begun criticizing China’s oppression of Uyghurs

 On March 3, the top article on the front page of Bloomberg Global Finance was entitled, “American Policy Toward China: Hard-line Stance.” The author, Eric Martin, wrote as follows:

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) annual report, released on March 1, declared that the U.S. will use all sorts of methods against China’s unfair practices, and clearly stated that the U.S. will maintain the previous Donald Trump administration’s hard-line stance in its trade policy toward China. Regarding other issues in the trade field, it plans to carry out initiatives in contrast to the previous administration.
China-related issues remain an important objective inherited from the previous administration. The USTR report said it will hold China accountable and use all sorts of trade policy means to deal with China’s unfair practices. It positioned initiatives to handle China’s oppression of the Uyghur people in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) as a priority issue.

 The U.S. and other countries are concerned about the Chinese government’s oppression of Uyghur people in the XUAR.
For several years there have been rumors about Uyghur people being detained in internment camps. These have been confirmed through satellite photographs and other data starting around last year. BuzzFeed News published an article entitled “China Secretly Built A Vast New Infrastructure To Imprison Muslims” on September 21, 2020. It read:

BuzzFeed News conducted an extensive investigation that has never been done before of China’s policy for detaining Muslim minorities for the purpose of “re-education.” Analyses of satellite images have shown that more than 260 buildings with the hallmarks of fortified detention compounds have been constructed since 2017.
These forbidding facilities – including several built or significantly expanded within the last year – are part of the government’s unprecedented campaign of mass detention of more than a million people, which began in late 2016. That year Chen Quanguo, the region’s top official and Communist Party boss […] also put Muslim minorities […] under perpetual surveillance via facial recognition cameras, cellphone tracking, checkpoints, and heavy-handed human policing.
Uyghurs are being tortured and sterilized in internment camps

 The U.S. has begun questioning whether the Chinese government’s treatment of the Uyghur ethnic group should be branded a “genocide.” SankeiBiz ran an article on January 15 entitled “American Report Says China’s Actions in XUAR May be Genocide.”

According to the 2020 Annual Report released on January 14 by the bipartisan American Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), it is possible that the Chinese authorities are carrying out a genocide of Uyghur people and other Muslim ethnic minorities in the XUAR, which is a violation of international law.
The report says that approximately 1.8 million members of minority groups (including Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyz) are being extensively and systematically detained in facilities in the XUAR. In addition to forced labor, they are subjected to torture and political indoctrination. Leaked Chinese government documents further substantiate that the internment camp system was built at the order of top leaders in the Chinese Communist Party.

 Forbes JAPAN also ran an article on this topic on February 26, entitled “British Lawyers Find Credible Evidence Of Genocide Against The Uyghurs In Xinjiang.” It read:

British lawyers from London based Essex Court Chambers […] published a legal opinion about the nature of the alleged atrocities against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang finding credible evidence of crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide.
The legal opinion further states that there is sufficient evidence to find the existence of a widespread and systematic attack on Uyghurs in Xinjiang within the […] actus reus of “enslavement, by the use of forced labor by former and current inmates of detention facilities; imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty, constituted by widescale deprivations of liberty of members of the Uyghur population held in detention facilities without charge or trial; torture in detention facilities, including the use of ‘tiger chairs’ and sexual violence; rape in detention facilities; enforced sterilization of Uyghur women, as part of efforts to reduce the Uyghur population; persecution, ranging from the deprivation of liberty to sexual violence and enslavement, directed against persons on the basis that they are members of the Uyghur population and/or Muslim; enforced disappearance of members of the Uyghur population.”

 Moreover, the legal opinion says there is “a strong imperative for national governments to take urgent action.” It seems like China’s aim is to decrease the Uyghur population and have more Han Chinese immigrate to the XUAR to replace them, resulting in a larger percentage of Han Chinese than Uyghurs. This is just like what it did in Tibet and Mongolia.

China reneged on its “one country, two systems” promise after 23 years

 The Chinese government is also drawing global attention for its actions related to the Hong Kong issue. The NHK website’s Commentary Archives contain an article entitled “Turmoil in Hong Kong: the Trampled ‘One Country, Two Systems’ Principle,” dated July 2, 2020.

July 1 marked the 23rd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom. On that day, 10,000 people gathered in Hong Kong, despite physical danger, to protest the recently executed Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (National Security Law). They clashed with policemen, and about 370 people have been arrested (including the 10 previously arrested on suspicion of violating the National Security Law) according to the Hong Kong authorities. In response to the fierce anger of Hong Kong residents, the Chinese government official who is in charge of the Hong Kong issue justified the enactment of this law by saying, “This law is a turning point to put Hong Kong back on a normal track. It is a ‘birthday gift’ on the 23rd anniversary of the handover, and its value will be demonstrated in the future.”
Let us look at this National Security Law that was forced on Hong Kong by the central Beijing authorities, bypassing the Legislative Council of Hong Kong. According to an announcement, it punishes crimes that can harm national security, such as national division, overthrowing the government, terrorism, and conspiracy with external powers. It stipulates that life imprisonment will be imposed for the most serious crimes. It also establishes a branch office allowing independent control by the central government, with absolutely no management by the government of Hong Kong, and prescribes that suspects can be put on trial in mainland China.
Without a doubt, we can say that this law disregards the overriding “one country, two systems” principle that guaranteed a high level of self-government in Hong Kong for 50 years after the handover.

 The Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 clearly promised to guarantee this “one country, two systems” principle. It explicitly stated that China’s socialist structure would not be imposed on Hong Kong, and that its past capitalist system and lifestyle would be maintained for 50 years after the handover in 1997 (until 2047). However, China reneged on this promise in 2020, less than 25 years later. Under the National Security Law executed in July 2020, China has arrested many people including democratic activist Agnes Chow and Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai. Some are being given unsuspended prison sentences or are held in custody.

China is aiming for the Senkaku Islands to fulfill its imperialist desires

 China has incorporated all of its neighboring minority areas into the country. For instance, right after the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949 it invaded Tibet, and it established the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. In 1955, China created the XUAR. Afterwards, it has disregarded public criticisms of its actions to Sinicize these autonomous regions, saying that these are “internal affairs.” The recent oppression of Uyghurs and abolition of “one country, two systems” are an extension of this policy – China is distorting human rights and its promises to its own benefit. China has also warred with its land neighbors and determined its borders by establishing a balance of power. China fought the Soviet Union over rights to Damansky Island, a sandbank in the Ussuri River (which is a tributary of the Amur). It waged the Sino-Indian War with India over territorial rights to the Himalaya region. In the Sino-Vietnamese War, China invaded Vietnam to punish it for invading Cambodia to drive out the Pol Pot administration that slaughtered one to three million Cambodians. Now China is trying to expand its territory into the ocean. It suggested to the U.S. that the two countries divide and rule the Pacific Ocean and is building military bases on reclaimed islands in the South China Sea. China has now turned its eyes to the Senkaku Islands as a gateway to the Pacific. China Coast Guard (CCG) ships are constantly invading the ocean near the Senkaku Islands, clearly showing that China is aiming to gradually gain control of this territory.
 The CCG was incorporated into the Chinese People’s Armed Police, a paramilitary organization, in 2018. The Coast Guard Law that came into force on February 1 permits the CCG to use weapons against ships that do not obey its orders. The CCG uses large, heavily armed ships that were sold off by the Chinese navy. They are even equipped with guns. It is possible that a CCG ship might give a unilateral order to a lightly equipped Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) patrol ship near the Senkaku Islands, and then attack it with weapons if it does not comply. I think it is also fully possible that a CCG ship could carry out a Senkaku landing operation through armed intimidation. This would be a repeat of what happened on Takeshima, which was taken through an illegal military action by a force of so-called South Korean “volunteer soldiers” in 1953 during the later days of the Korean War. If the Senkaku Islands are snatched away, Japan would lose an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles, as well as the right to mine seafloor resources and fish in the area. I think China would then turn its eyes to Okinawa followed by mainland Japan, since annexing Japan would bring superior technologies and human resources under Chinese control. I believe Japan must be extremely wary and take sufficient measures at this timing to avoid becoming an autonomous region of the PRC.
 The Japanese media takes a lenient stance and does not strongly criticize China for the Uyghur or Hong Kong issues. Perhaps this is one reason why the Japanese government has not sharply censured China. I think the media and government should take a clear position regarding the Uyghur and Hong Kong issues. Japanese resources are also being stolen due to China’s gas field development near the dividing line between Japanese and Chinese territory in the East China Sea. I believe Japan should stand up to China by carrying out rival development in this area until the Chinese side ceases its mining. In the past as many as 200 people lived on the Senkaku Islands, which are Japanese territory, and they carried out economic activities there with permission from the government. Furthermore, the Chinese consulate in Nagasaki sent thank-you letters in 1920 to Senkaku residents and other involved Japanese persons in Okinawa for giving aid to Chinese fishermen who drifted ashore on the Senkaku Islands. The letters clearly state that the islands were part of Okinawa. At that time Senkaku residents helped build a friendly relationship between Japan and China. Now CCG ships are invading Japanese waters and claiming that the Senkaku Islands belong to them, despite the fact that these islands are clearly part of Japan’s territory. Japanese ships should have guns, and the MSDF should provide active support to the Japan Coast Guard, to oppose these CCG ships. The most important principle is for the Japan Self-Defense Forces to defend our territorial waters on an equal footing so we do not allow China’s reckless actions to go unpunished. I think China will continue expanding by turning its economic force into military strength, which is something that Japan must build a defense structure to withstand.

March 18 (Tuesday), 1:00 p.m.