Topic: War over The Diaoyu Islands? Who Would have More to Lose?
蕭茗： 到目前為止，中日雙方還沒有任何一方在釣魚島問題上表現出實質性的讓步。有一種說法，引發戰爭和導致戰爭的不總是同樣的事情。引發戰爭的往往就是針對小事件的對峙不斷的升級，最終導致擦槍走火。而我們看到中日針對釣魚島的爭端就是處於這樣一個狀態。那麽，中日是否會擦槍走火，甚至導致局部戰爭，中日海軍的實力對比如何，美國將扮演什麽角色。針對這些問題我采訪了美國國際評估與戰略中心，研究亞洲軍事的高級研究員Richard Fisher先生，一起來聽一下。
蕭茗：無論現在釣魚島的情況如何劍拔弩張,事實上,如果中日雙方真的發生軍事沖突,甚至爆發局部戰爭,美國也被迫卷入的話,幾乎可以斷定,這是對3方都沒有好處的事情.但是,即便如此, 中日雙方現在看起來都很難軟化各自強硬的立場. 如果這樣下去, 這場危機是否有解決的辦法, 誰將會對這場沖突最終付出最沈重的代價。下面是我針對這些問題,對Richard Fisher先生的另一段采訪.
蕭茗: 與本次釣魚島爭端同時發生的還有一件大事,就是中共軍方在此期間釋放出全軍積極備戰的信號. 這毫無疑問使得釣魚島本來就緊繃的局勢更加雪上加霜. 也使人們看到,在釣魚島爭端中,中共可能同樣不打算示弱. 關於中共軍方最近一段時間的動向,我們請雪莉來介紹一下.
雪莉: 好的蕭茗. 新年伊始，中國《解放軍報》就報道，中國人民解放軍總參謀部頒發了《2013年全軍軍事訓練指示》，要求全軍和武警部隊緊緊圍繞能打仗、打勝仗的目標，以軍事鬥爭準備任務為牽引，大力加強實戰化軍事訓練；要強化打仗思想、增強憂患意識、危機意識、使命意識，做好打仗準備，提高打仗能力。
蕭茗： 謝謝雪莉。中共軍方近期積極備戰的姿態和重獎作戰部隊的舉措都給人一種直觀的印象, 好像中共是真的打算近期在和鄰國的領土爭端中動武. 那麽事實到底如何呢? 釣魚島爭端和中國國內政治的關系是什麽? 中共是否會主動打這一仗.就這些問題我采訪了本臺資深評論員橫河.
蕭茗: 中國有句話,玩火者必自焚. 一直以來,中共把中國人的民族主義情緒玩弄於鼓掌之間, 這次,它可能真的有可能看到火勢失控的那一刻了. 因為無論中共內心是否想打這一仗, 釣魚島不斷升級的對峙確實是引起雙方擦槍走火的催化劑, 而擦槍走火加上群情激憤,又鋪就了走向局部戰爭的通道. 如果中日發生局部戰爭, 中國和臨國的關系,和美國的關系就將急轉直下, 中國的鄰國會更加堅定的結成同盟,並且和美國結盟共同對抗中國. 中國的對外貿易將受到沈重的打擊. 到那個時候,中國新一代的領導人可能也無暇再談起中華民族偉大振興的話題了.
Title: War over The Diaoyu Islands? Who Would have More to Lose?
Simone Gao: In January 2013, the sovereignty dispute between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands once again came to the public’s attention. However, this time the situation is different from September 2012. After the leadership changes in both China and Japan, the new leaders from both sides are exhibiting a more hard-line stance, over the Diaoyu Islands dispute and their respective national defense policies, than their predecessors. They have also taken certain actions. The threat of a military confrontation seems imminent over the Diaoyu Islands dispute. More seriously, until now, the outside world hasn’t seen a way out to settle the dispute. Then, will a military conflict take place over the Diaoyu Islands? If it happens, will the conflict be an exchange of fire or a regional war? Is it possible that this conflict will escalate into a full-scale war? Which party would ultimately pay the heaviest price for this conflict? In this episode of Zooming In, we will explore these issues with a U.S. think tank expert and China experts. First of all, let’s take a look at the major events leading to the Diaoyu Islands conflict.
Narrator: In mid-December 2012, two coincidental events may have planted the seed for this round of conflict over the Diaoyu Islands. On December 13, a China Maritime Surveillance aircraft flew into the airspace over the disputed islands for a rendezvous with a fleet of four Maritime Surveillance ships, which were patrolling in nearby waters. Then the aircraft and the fleet carried out a patrol both in the air and the ocean. They also urged the Japanese vessels in the same area to immediately leave China’s territorial waters. Since the nationalization of the Diaoyu Islands by the Government of Japan, China Maritime Surveillance fleet has carried out patrols in the waters surrounding the islands for five months. The maritime supervision organ dispatched the aircraft on December 13 for the first time to perform a three-dimensional air and sea patrol. Three days later, the Japanese general election results came out. The Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito Party emerged as the winners. Shinzo Abe, president of the Liberal Democratic Party, is once again Japan’s prime minister. The Liberal Democratic Party is a conservative party in Japan, and it has a relatively hand-line policy towards China.
On January 5, 2013, the new Abe administration planned to increase Japan’s national defense budget for the first time in 11 years and raise the country’s military spending by 2% in 2013, to 4.7 trillion yen, which is equivalent to 52.5 billion US dollars. The Japanese media said after analysis that the primary reason for increasing Japan’s military spending was to deal with China’s military expansion, and this was also in accordance with Shinzo Abe’s plans to amend the Japanese Constitution, exercise its right of collective self-defense and to compete with China in the sovereignty dispute over Diaoyu Islands (known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan).
In the meantime, China Maritime Surveillance fleet continued its constant patrol in the waters surrounding the Diaoyu Islands. Japan also increased its monitoring of the same waters. Both countries’ foreign ministries also exchanged words, accusing each other.
On January 10, Japan’s Defense Ministry stated that after a Chinese military aircraft appeared over Japan’s “air defense identification zone” above the East China Sea, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces scrambled and dispatched F-15 fighter jets in an emergency response. The Chinese Defense Ministry said that a Shaanxi Y-8 aircraft belonging to the Chinese military was conducting a routine patrol in the airspace southwest of the East China Sea oil and gas fields and was tailed by Air Self-Defense Forces F-15 fighter jets. The Chinese military subsequently dispatched two F-10 fighters to conduct surveillance.
This is the first confrontation between both countries’ military aircrafts in the Diaoyu Islands dispute. The Chinese official newspaper Global Times warned on January 11 that there is the possibility of a military conflict breaking out between China and Japan.
At the same time, Japanese newspaper, Sankei Shimbun quoted a senior Japanese government official as saying that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked relevant government departments to strengthen its garrison measures in the areas surrounding the Diaoyu Islands. This included that “when the (Chinese) aircraft violating Japan’s airspace does not obey Japanese military’s radio warnings, the Self-Defense Forces fighters are allowed to use tracers to fire warning shots".
However, the U.S. government subsequently issued a warning to the Abe administration, demanding that Japanese Self-Defense Forces not fire tracer bullets or flare bullets at Chinese aircraft flying near the airspace over the Diaoyu Islands. The United States is concerned that if the Japanese Self-Defense Forces shoot the Chinese planes first, it will provoke China’s counterattack. China and Japan are likely to become engaged in an armed conflict.
Although Japan may temporarily abandon its intention to fire tracers at Chinese planes, Shinzo Abe’s position on the Diaoyu Islands has not softened. On January 11, Shinzo Abe said that he would not budge on the Senkaku Islands issue, and that there is no room for negotiation. In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei stated that the Diaoyu Islands has been China’s inherent territory since ancient times, and that the currently serious Sino-Japanese tensions were single-handedly fomented by Japan.
While the Sino-Japanese dispute over the Diaoyu Islands was escalating, Taiwan also became involved. While meeting with visiting U.S. Senator Murkowski and her entourage on January 15, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou reiterated that the Taiwanese government has consistently advocated that the Diaoyutai Islands become the inherent territory of the Republic of China and an affiliated island of the Taiwan Island. The Diaoyu Islands dispute has now become more complex.
From January 16 to 18, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Southeast Asia for three days. In addition to expanding trade relations, the main purpose of this trip was widely seen as Abe promoting regional diplomacy and uniting the Southeast Asian countries to contend with China, at a time of heightened Sino-Japanese tensions.
On January 19, U.S. Secretary of State Clinton’s remarks caused another splash. Clinton called on Japan and China to peacefully resolve their territorial dispute. However, she also indirectly warned China not to take any unilateral actions that would seek to undermine the Japanese administration’s control over the islands.
Clinton’s speech in fact reiterated the consistent position of the United States on this matter. On November 29, 2012, the United States Senate plenary meeting decided to add an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to the 2013 fiscal year, reaffirming that the defense of the Diaoyu Islands falls under Article 5 of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. The amendment stated that the United States “takes no position on the ultimate sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands,” but it acknowledged Japan’s administration over the islands. Article 7 of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security stated that according to the Treaty, either the United States or Japan, if they become subject to armed attacks within Japan’s jurisdiction, either party can respond or counterattack.
On January 21, China expressed its strong dissatisfaction with U.S. Secretary of State Clinton’s comments about the disputed islands, and warned the United States to take a “responsible attitude”.
On January 22nd, Japan finally showed a good attitude. During a television show, Shinzo Abe said: “We can not let the communication between the two countries stall because of one problem." He said it would be against the principle of reciprocity between the two countries. This was the first time Shinzo spoke publicly on his view regarding the relationship between Japan and China after taking office. Shinzo also said he asked Komei Party Chairman Natsuo Yamaguchi to deliver a letter to Chinese leader Xi Jinping during Yamaguchi’s China visit, and he hopes that the two sides can hold a dialogue.
It seemed that Shinzo Abe offered an olive branch, but at the same time in Japan, LDP officials and Abe reiterated that Japan has unquestionable sovereignty over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.
Simone Gao: Up to now, neither China nor Japan showed substantive concessions over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands dispute. There is a saying that what triggers a war may not always be the same thing as that which caused the war. What triggers a war is usually a misfire after smaller confrontations continue to increase. We see the Senkaku Diaoyu Islands dispute between China and Japan is this: Will it develop into a misfire or even cause a regional war? How do the Japanese navy and Chinese navy compare in strength? What would the role of the U.S. be? We interviewed Mr. Richard Fisher, a Senior Fellow on Asian Military Affairs at International Assessment and Strategy Center. Let’s hear what he has to say.
Simone Gao: On a scale of 1-10, how would you describe the likelihood that China and Japan will go to war over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands dispute?
Fisher: Conflict, I would say, the chances are significant. 4, 5, 6. A war emerging from a clash is not as high. But again it is always risky to make such predictions. China’s ambitions are fairly broad and deep. If it can initiate and contain a conflict that it can use to manipulate Japan’s strategic position, diminish that position, as well as the United States’ position, it will probably do so. But the chances of a conflict today are definitely much greater than they were a year ago.
Simone Gao: There are some things the Chinese people are really interested in no matter whether China and Japan actually go to war or not, and these things are, for example, if China can actually take on Japan on the ocean? In other words, could Japan alone deter China’s incursion?
Fisher: It can for some period of time. How long, it is difficult to say. But I don’t think that Japan would be entering into any kind of military engagement alone. The United States will probably be with Japan from the beginning. If not, in terms of an ISR level, radar communication, monitoring, sharing of intelligence, than actual combat support.
Simone Gao: Who has a stronger navy? China or Japan?
Fisher: Each has different strengths. China has just commissioned its first aircraft carrier. The aircraft carrier is a couple of years away from being fully operational. But once it becomes operational, that will in many cases provide a decisive advantage over Japan’s navy. Japan has far better submarines, which can sink the aircraft carrier and most other Chinese warships. But again China has more submarines. So, there are relative strengths on both sides.
Simone Gao: We talked about different types of confrontation. One thing people would like to know is, if military confrontation took place, is it likely to be contained on the ocean or is it possible that this could escalate into a full scale war?
Richard Fisher: It could escalate in different and unforeseen directions. Whether China would like to initiate a full-scale war, to include a broad invasion in Okinawa, missile attacks, Cyber attacks against the Japanese mainland? That would be highly doubtful. But would China inject naval forces in support of an air combat zone? That’s a definite possibility. Would China try to send amphibious and special forces to occupy the disputed islands? That’s a definite possibility. Would Japan then try to evict or capture the Chinese forces that occupy the islands? That is also a definite possibility. Once you have such a general exchange of forces on both sides, there will be a temptation to broaden and escalate the conflict. And because the United States will be likely involved very early in such a conflict, China will view the United States as much of a target as Japan.
Simone Gao: Then another question would be to what extent will the US get involved if China and Japan have some kind of military confrontation or even go to war?
Richard Fisher: That’s very difficult to say. But at a minimum, I would expect that the air forces, such as the F-22 fighters that were deployed to Okinawa just last week that they might be employed as a means securing air superiority if China attacks. These are very effective fighter aircrafts, the best in the world. However, the United States has only deployed a small number to Okinawa, probably less than 20. So how effective they would be, if China were to use hundreds of fighters in the aerial battle. That remains to be seen. But as long as they are able to be supported and as long as they have effective missile armament, I don’t think that the F-22 will be defeated in the skies over these islands. But there is an element of chance here. China has a long tradition of employing secret and decisive weapons called “sha shou jian”. What does the PLA has up its sleeve, that we cannot anticipate. This is a critical factor in one aspect of its military modernization that China has stressed, in order to increase its ability to deter the United States.
Simone Gao: No matter how intense the Senkaku Diaoyu Islands dispute is, in fact, if military conflict or even regional war between China and Japan breaks out, and if the U.S. is forced to get involved, it can certainly be concluded that it would not be a good thing for any of the three nations. But it looks like neither China nor Japan is willing to soften their tough stance. If this continues, will there be a solution? Who would pay the heaviest price for this conflict? The following is another part of the interview with Mr. Richard Richard Fisher.
Simone Gao: The dilemma for both parties seems to be that although a war is not either party’s real interest, neither can afford to look weak over this conflict, due to domestic political pressure. So do you see a way out for both parities?
Richard Fisher: I don’t accept the proposition that the Chinese Communist Party is going to be threatened, if it backs down from the crisis that it created. The threat of nationalism or the phenomenon of nationalism in China is something that is very much controlled by the communist party. Turned up, turned down as it pleases. If China were to back down and allow the return to the status quo, you will not see a revolution in Beijing the following day. That would simply not happen. However, if there is a clash over the islands, and Japan is defeated, I think what you might see in Japan is not only a very strong political reaction, a nationalist reaction, but one that would be strong enough to force the current government out of power, in favor of one that is even more nationalistically and militaristically inclined. China is really risking pushing Japan down a path towards real rearmament, aircraft carriers, missiles and perhaps even nuclear weapons. The leadership in China is endangering the security of the Chinese people by foolishly engaging in conflicts that it really cannot control and for which it certainly cannot control the long-term outcomes.
Simone Gao: Which party will have more to lose if they go to war, Japan or China?
Richard Fisher: In the near term, it will be Japan. But I believe in the long term, it will be China. Because if China initiates a conflict with Japan over these islands, it will force Japan into a much more aggressive long-term military posture, and it will force the countries around China to cooperate militarily more rigorously, and it will strengthen the strategic and political leadership of the United States. So in the long term, China will definitely be the loser.
Simone Gao: Another important event, which happened at the same time as the Diaoyu Islands dispute, was that the CCP’s army sent a signal to actively prepare for war. This is certainly adding one disaster after another to the tension of the Diaoyu Islands dispute. People also saw that the CCP may not show that it was weak in the dispute. On the direction CCP army has been taking recently, let’s ask Xueli to give us a review.
Sherry Chang: OK, Xiaoming. At the beginning of the year, the CCP Liberation Army Newspaper reported that the Headquarters of the General Staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army announced 2013 Army Training Instructions, and required the army and army police troops to train with the goal of being capable of fighting war and winning war as their objective, and with the direction of taking a war fighting job. The headquarters also required the army to strengthen their war fighting mindset, hardship consciousness, crisis consciousness, and mission consciousness, to prepare well for war fighting, and increase their ability to fight war.
On December 16, 2012, Hong Kong Contend magazine reported that the CCP Central Political Bureau discussed and passed the resolution, “Central Army Committee on Keeping the National territory rights of Diaoyu Islands, and Preparing Well to Deploy Army for War". The “resolution” defined the 5 pre-conditions to start war with Japan.
The article also revealed that Fang Fenghui, member of CCP Military Commission of the Central Committee and Chief of the General Staff, represented the four general offices, and Wu Shenli, Navy Commanding Officer, represented various military divisions in the evening of December 14, 2012. Zhang Shibo, Beijing Military District Commanding Officer, and Zhen Weiping, Nanjing Military District Political Commissar, represented the 7 military districts, land forces, provisional military districts, and presented their written pledge to ask for a battle assignment to maintain national rights and maintain national territory. Their pledge was sent to the CCP during the standing committee meeting of the CCP Central Political Committee.
In addition, Vice Presendent Fan Changlong of the Central Army Committee also announced “a localized war of high technology and high cost is getting closer and closer to us” during his visit to the Beijing Military District, and reminded the military to be prepared for “fighting one-to-one, and fighting one-to-two.” His “fighting one-to-two” is referring to US involvement.
Also, Xi Jinping promised higher pay for the entire military during his visit to various military forces and during recent meetings of the CCP Central Army Committee.
Better award conditions to military and national defense, which was passed in early December, include payouts that would be 10x to 50x in awards for military exercises, combat exercises with live ammunition, and military weapons and equipment. Special awards to individuals may be up to 20 million yuan, and to groups up to 200 million yuan. Awards for taking down invading flying objects, or sinking invading vessels can be up to 500 million yuan to a group.
Simone Gao: Thank you, Sherry. The gestures of the CCP military getting actively prepared for war and high award measures for war time fighting are all leaving people with a direct impression. It looks like the CCP really wants to have a war with a neighboring country over disputed territory. Then, what are the actual facts? What is the relationship between the Diaoyu Islands dispute and China’s internal politics? Will the CCP actively fight this war? I interviewed our long time critic Huan He, and asked these questions.
Simone Gao: When I previously had a discussion with a Western expert about whether the Chinese Communist Party would take a step back in handling the Diaoyu Islands dispute, he put forward the following view. That is, it will difficult for the Chinese Communist regime to budge on the Diaoyu Islands issue, because the nationalist sentiment in China has always been manipulated by the CCP. There will not be a revolution in China, just because the Chinese Communist Party steps back on the Diaoyu Islands issue. Therefore, I would like to first ask your opinion on this point of view. In your opinion, if the Chinese Communist Party is indeed having difficulties on the Diaoyu Islands issue, where are these difficulties coming from?
Heng He: The difficulties the CCP has on the Diaoyu Islands issue come from itself. Prior to the CCP’s 18th National Congress, the Diaoyu Islands issue was not as hot as it is now. Under the previous circumstances, when both sides had not dispatched fighter jets or warships, the CCP could have been able to step back. However, the largest problem the CCP is now facing is the complete collapse of its ideological rule over the Chinese people. In this situation, in order to make the Chinese people still believe that the CCP possesses cohesion and legitimacy, it must use nationalism. So, this kind of nationalism was instigated by the CCP. After nationalism has been instigated, it will be very difficult for the CCP to cool it down. If no warships were dispatched, it would not matter (if the CCP backs down). However, after dispatching warships and fighter jets, if they want to back down, in effect, the regime would lose its legitimacy. This is because the CCP has bundled together its ruling legitimacy, the Chinese people’s sense of nationalism and the territorial dispute. This would not be a problem for a democratic government, because if worse comes to worse, a democratic government can just be voted out. In addition, there are other basis for a democratic government’s legitimacy. However, the CCP has lost its Party ideology, and this is a difficult hurdle for it to overcome.
Simone Gao: If the Chinese military really wants to fight a war, it would in fact cause the Chinese Communist Party a great deal of distress. The largest problem facing the CCP is probably that in the international community, China may be thrown into passivity; China’s foreign trade will be severely affected; and the reforms that Xi Jinping would like to push forward may also be greatly affected. If Xi Jinping positions himself as making Chinese society relatively stable and being able to lead China to realize its dream to become a great power, I can hardly imagine that he would hope that China have a future war with Japan or any other countries.
Heng He: I think that Xi Jinping took over this hot potato in a hurry. He currently does not want to handle the Diaoyu Islands incident. This is because there are two problems involved. The first problem is that he indeed needs to improve cohesion. However, as the head of the new government, he can use means other than a foreign war to improve cohesion. The greatest threat a foreign war poses to him is…If it is a quick fix, then he can get everything he wants. However the problem is, his opponent, Japan, is not the Vietnam from the past. Regarding the Diaoyu Islands issue, there are several problems. The first problem is that the Chinese naval forces have never been tested. The second problem is the logistics. The third problem is that this opponent is more professional than the CCP’s previous opponent, Vietnam. If we don’t compare both sides’ troop numbers and only pay attention to the degree of professionalism, then the Japanese military is quite professional, and it has the backing of the United States. If this war can be fought and won quickly and be resolved within one week, then there is no problem. However, it is difficult. If the war is prolonged, then this problem will be immediately exposed. That is to say, the Chinese communist regime cannot afford such a failure. If Japan loses the war, there will be nothing more than a change of administration. It will still be a government elected by the Japanese people. The situation facing the Chinese Communist Party’s regime is completely different.
Simone Gao: Let’s take a look at Xi Jinping’s recent series of moves, such as promising to increase the rewards for the military, including rewarding up to 500 million yuan to an individual combatant. It is natural for people to link his moves with the CCP’s attitude on the Diaoyu Islands issue. Also, this attitude is the same one which belongs to the Chinese military hawks. So my question is, do you think that this tough attitude is from Xi Jinping of his own accord, or is Xi under pressure from the Chinese military?
Heng He: I think that his own factors are involved in it, because the military’s greatest interest is not about fighting a war. The military’s greatest interest lies in placing the war in the foreseeable future, so that the military can get more esteem, higher political status and more funding. Once the war starts, the military is not a monolith; and it is not about the issue of being left-wing or hawkish. The senior military officials do not want a war. The middle-level officers may want to fight in the war, because they have a chance to make achievements and then get promoted. The army may be different from what has been estimated by everyone. Within the state machine, the army is the most professional component. That is, whether a battle can be won or lost, the military will first perform a very precise calculation, before engaging in the battle.
Simone Gao: If that is the case, in your opinion, what are the Chinese military’s real thoughts? Do they feel that they can fight this war?
Heng He: At least, they do not want to expand the war. If they fight in the war, they have to have the confidence to end this war in the short term. Delays will prove to be very difficult for the Chinese navy. This is because from the perspective of a war, the geographic location of the Diaoyu Islands is the same distance from Japan as they are from China. Whether or not both sides are able to supply their naval forces remains a large problem. So, I don’t think that fighting a war now is necessarily in line with the best interests of the Chinese military.
Simone Gao: China has a saying – play with fire and you will get burned. The CCP plays with Chinese people’s nationalism all the time. This time it may really see the moment when it loses control of the fire. No matter whether the CCP wants to have a war or not, the escalated tension regarding the Diaoyu Islands is really a catalyst to cause fire between the two sides. And, having fire would add to people’s anger, which further lays the path to a localized war. If Sino-Japan are in a localized war, the relationship between China and neighbor countries, between China and US, will take a sudden down turn. China’s neighboring countries will form stronger ties, and form ties with the US to resist China. China trade with other countries will suffer significant impact. By that time, China’s new generation leader will not have time to talk about the topic to revitalize the nation.