The contest between Japan and China for the Senkaku Islands is a difficult issue, everyone agrees. But regardless who has the final say, the Chinese government shows the world its weakness by doing little to stop the mob terrorising and vandalising Japanese people, Japanese interests, and; as in the case of the embassy, Japanese territory in China.
The dispute is a delicate matter. But however difficult, respect and protection for private property is a sign of intelligence, moral, and good governance. Three things the Chinese officials seem to lack, —judging by how they downplay the irrational attacks on Japanese property.
Downplaying the loathing also gives the impression of a careless China about the rule of law, and that whenever vandals go after private property China’s officials will behave as if they were but onlookers.
It must be said that if the centuries old Sino-Japanese fuss over the islands is not handled properly, the results of doing nothing to protect Japanese property in China; and the lack of political restrain on Japanese side, will damage both countries. Because it is true that if the conflict spins out of control China and Japan will loose vast political terrain locally and globally.
For China is a sign of moral weakness, social weakness, and cultural weakness to lack the dexterity to combat the few, but destructive, who have little or no respect for the property of others.
For Japan the lack of prudence by its politicians is a huge embarrassment. And it may worsen Japan’s wounded economy, taint its global image, and debilitate its international stand.
But while it’s obvious that Japan has its share of imprudences against China, it is obvious too that China is after debilitating Japan even more or lure it into a fight.
And whatever China gains if Japan takes the bait, the picture that international media is currently taking of China is that of a nation fond of indoctrination. Chinese people involved in the loathing, particularly the young, know little of what Japan and its people are. But their animosity, which runs from bad to worse, for everything Japanese can only come from government inculcating.
The indoctrinated seem to know that Japan needs China, but they ignore that China needs Japan even more because China’s technology, and many more developments, are based on Japan’s frame works: everything from phones to bullet trains are the heir of Japanese platforms.
Because of this fact, it maybe unlikely that China considers an arms conflict with Japan. But it’s highly dubious that China is solely after protecting its integrity. The territory in dispute is rather small but arguably a niche of vast natural resources that China wants.
Even if China gets its way the cost of forcing trade partners to take sides between low cost-low quality Chinese products or high cost-high quality Japanese products maybe high. And given the history of the rich, it is likely they will play it safe and stay with the high end goods.
China should understand that at this point, its economic power still lacks the strength for a long and costly fight.
In the other side Japan, even if forced into a fight, has now what it needs to manoeuvre in the long run. Wounded as it maybe, current Japan’s economic strength, and social and cultural foundations can resist a marathon.
Finally China should also understand that while the USA’s administration of President Obama tries to fool China into accepting a contradictory stance, China fools itself by considering it is stronger than it really is.
And this is a huge strategic weakness even for the land of Sun Tzu.