Tensions have flared again in Northeast Asia over disputed islands, with Japan in the middle of two territorial controversies over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands and the Takeshima/Dokdo Islands with China and South Korea, respectively. Recent developments have especially strained the relations between China and Japan. This post examines commentary in China, Japan and South Korea.
While the anti-Japanese protests in China reflect what RPI experts David Shambaugh and Ren Xiao call a fiercely nationalistic or Nativist viewpoint, the deluge of commentary in the officially-sanctioned media have expressed a Realist view that focuses on major power competition in the region.
- Alongside assertions of China’s usual position of sovereignty over the disputed islands, thePeople’s Daily pinpoints Japan as “totally responsible” for escalating tensions, though its own editorials are mixed on placing the blame on Japan’s domestic right-wingers and characterizing the entire Japanese nation as a “fickle country…incapable to walk out of the shadow of an aggressive war.”
- While the Global Times expressed support for concurrent Chinese military exercises in the East China Sea, saying they have “come at the right time,” it also stressed that “Chinese need to be clear that China cannot retrieve the [Diaoyu] Islands now. This would mean a large-scale war, which is not in China’s interests.”
- Various editorials are also criticizing the U.S. for enabling or supporting Japan’s assertiveness, with Japan becoming the “deputy sheriff of Asia for the United States.” ThePeople’s Daily also strongly criticized US-Japan joint military drills aimed at taking back islands: “Despite knowing that it is useless to conduct the island capturing exercise, the United States and Japan are in high spirits. The two countries know exactly that it is just a petty trick to enrage China.“
- At the same time, the papers have called for domestic calm. (more…)
China left the Olympic Games with more medals than any other country with the exception of the United States. Chinese coverage of the events reflected highly nationalistic views that focused on foreign media bias against China as a reflection of their antagonism toChina’s rise.
Numerous editorials accused Western countries of bias against China:
- An editorial in the Global Times noted that “the Western attitude toward China is not as warm as ours was toward the West four years ago,” while the People’s Daily labeled China as victim to the media’s “selective blindness”.
- Olympics reporter Chen Ziao encouraged greater international coverage of the Olympic Games by Chinese media. By doing so, the Chinese media can “seize international discourse power.”
The Chinese media expressed outrage over accusations of doping by gold medal victory of 16-year-old Ye Shiwen in the 400m individual medley.
- “Accusing the Chinese swimmer of doping…reflects broader ill-will of those people towards China’s achievements and rising strength,” wrote Xinhua columnist Lu Hui. Another writer characterized the accusations as “a kind of hysteria fanned by some Western media.”
Others noted the parallels between China’s global rise and its Olympic successes:
- “While it is a sports competition, the Olympic Games is also a contest of national strength,” stated the Global Times, while also noting that for China, the Olympics “is a place to compare itself with the world. On this platform China has been expanding its vision and building confidence.”
Team Russia came fourth in the overall medal count with 24 gold, 25 silver, and 33 bronze medals, triggering comparisons between the Chinese and Russian sports management systems. Meanwhile, Russian officials took careful notes on the London games in preparation for the 2014 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Sochi,Russia. (more…)Continue Reading →