Thursday, August 18, 2005

China-Japan Tensions

The growing tension noticeable recently in China-Japan relations has been traced by Professor Dipak Basu of Nagasaki University, mainly to differences over Taiwan. (Expanding Empire I and II in Statesman 8th and 9th August 2005).

Describing China as an imperial power extending into Tibet, Turkistan,Manchuria, Mongolia and more recently the Spratleys, Taiwan remains an as yet unachieved imperial target. None of these societies have been 'part of the Motherland' in any meaningful sense, and Basu avers that China can claim undisputed rule over Taiwan only for a period of eight years, from1887-1895. Japan's refusal to accept Taiwan as part of China, her recognition of Taiwanese independence he places at the root of China's animosity towards that country as she readies to stake her claim to Taiwan, perhaps even militarily.

By contrast we may see that the Indian government has never recognised Taiwan and by and large tried to placate China. A few years back however, during the Narsimha Rao regime, India opened a trading consulate in Taipeh (earlier she traded through an Indian representing Taiwan in Delhi), and even more recently upgraded the post somewhat by appointing a serving foreign officer in place of a retire. Despite her public pusillanimity with regard to China, the Indian government seems to be strengthening her ties and alliances with Japan, South Korea and the US, and hastening slowly towards a less vulnerable position. However, the conduct of the Himalayan negotiations leave much to be desired, andthe protracted sell-out over Tibet, a kind of attenuated retreat from both reality and principle, is indeed a tragedy and strategic surrender of Himalayan proportions.

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