Japan from the inside out


Posted by ampontan on Tuesday, September 18, 2012

WHEN China suffered serious spasms during the Cultural Revolution in the late 60s and the democracy movement of the late 80s that died at Tiananmen Square, the world watched as if it were a fire on the far side of the river, to use the Japanese expression. But there are no far sides of rivers in today’s world, and spasms in China today will be unpleasant for people outside the country as well.

That the current crisis has been caused by another serious spasm in China should not be a matter for doubt, as a minute or two of reflection should make clear. Really, for the Chinese, Japan is just an excuse and always has been. That Panasonic plant that was destroyed over the weekend? Deng Xiaoping visited Matsushita Konosuke in Osaka and asked him to build it. They once told the Japanese that China would never forget those who dug the well. Either they’ve forgotten, or they never meant it to begin with.

Consider the following items from Monday’s relative lull was we wait for what tomorrow brings.

The sign on this Nanjing store display (of kitchen plastic wrap?) reads: The Diaoyutai belong to China.

Both of these photos were taken in China this weekend and published in the Dong-a Ilbo. The bottom photo is of a Korean restaurant in Shanghai.

The banner reads: Freedom, Democracy, Human Rights, Constitutionalism. (The entire banner, including the hidden last word, was shown on Japanese television.)

30 Grievances

This photo appeared on Weibo, the Chinese Twitter. Photographs such as these don’t last long on the Net in China. It reads: Chinese people! What should we oppose? No wage increases. Public officials make large profits from illegal land transactions. We can’t buy a home. We die because we can’t go to a hospital. We can’t die because graves are too expensive. We use all our assets to graduate from college and still can’t get a job.

There are 30 grievances in all. I don’t see any about the Japanese.

A report from the website Record China says the Chinawest news site (both in Chinese) is carrying a directive from the Xian Public Security Bureau dated 16 September prohibiting demonstrations against Japan. Any gathering, demonstration, or other political action without authorization is prohibited, as is using text messages or the Internet to call for that action.

The bureau said they understood the demonstrations were “a manifestation of patriotism against a common enemy”, but there had been “destruction, looting, and burning by some people who had lost their reason. These acts seriously disrupted public order.” People will now be held criminally responsible for demonstrating.

Meanwhile, this poster is being distributed calling for all gallant men and women to rouse their passion and participate in Tuesday’s demonstrations.

The people in the countryside near Wenzhou think war with Japan is soon to break out, so they’re hoarding salt and rice, reports the Chinese website Officials have limited purchases to a two-month supply of salt, but some shops have still sold out. The hoarding is local now, but the entire country snapped up salt last year after the Fukushima nuclear accident. They believed the iodine in Chinese salt would prevent thyroid cancer.

We’re thinking of you

That Hallmarkcardian sentiment is the caption under Chairman Mao’s photo on the placard in this Asahi Shimbun photo. It was taken in Shanghai, where there were clashes with armed police. Most of the demonstrators, according to the Asahi, are not originally from Shanghai. They are mostly young men in their early 20s who came from the countryside to work in the big city, often in restaurants or other service industry jobs. About 1,500 demonstrated in front of the Japanese consulate yesterday, sectioned off into groups of 150 by the police.

That is not mere Mao nostalgia — it is an indication of the political turmoil inside the country caused by severe factionalism. Try this article from the Singapore Straits Times:

Posted in a military barracks is this poster: “We pledge our lives to protect the Party’s 18th National Congress.” That slogan speaks volumes of how vulnerable the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) perceives itself to be – to the extent that the country’s military has to throw its full weight behind a party congress.

The poster reflected what transpired at a meeting between General Guo Boxiong, vice-chairman of the CCP’s all-powerful Central Military Commission (CMC), and a group of senior military officials at the National Defence University on July 17.

At the meeting, Gen Guo stressed that “maintaining stability prior to the party’s 18th congress is a major political task of the military”. In the event of an emergency, “the military has to ensure that once the order is given, it could act swiftly and resolutely to deliver its task”.

The second remark showed clearly that the CCP anticipated emergency situations before or during the party congress that required prompt and effective intervention by the military.

This article in the Epoch Times helps explain why domestic military intervention might be necessary, viewed through the prism of the weekend’s demonstrations/riots/lootings:

One Weibo user, attuned to the signs of Chinese political struggle, wrote, “Firstly, who can control armed police, plainclothes police, and public security all over the country? Secondly, who can control televisions all over the country to keep silent? Thirdly, who can control Sina Weibo and delete posts as soon as they appear? This someone must be the one that is behind these violent incidents all over the country.”

The most prominent theory of who the “someone” is, is hard-liners in the security and propaganda apparatus who are aligned with former regime leader Jiang Zemin; many owe their political legacy to the implementation of Jiang’s persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual practice.

Though some analysts and insiders indicated that arrangements for the upcoming leadership changeover this fall were settled, the recent absence of Xi Jinping, the presumptive next leader of the regime, and the dispute with Japan may have given this group an opening to exploit and push for greater power, according to analysts.

An article published in Boxun, a Chinese-language dissident website outside China, said that security officials and supporters of ousted official Bo Xilai have been supporting the protests in an effort to postpone the 18th Party Congress and give hard-liners more time in personnel negotiations.

Xia Xiaoqiang, a columnist and analyst of Chinese politics based in Washington, D.C., said, referring to this group, “Their ultimate goal is to preserve the gang’s political position, so that a chance will arise for them to take power.”

Before Jiang Zemin stepped down, a book was published of his selected speeches translated into English. In one speech to party cadres, he said that Japan’s past must be used as a weapon against the country “forever”.

They do not have elections. They are subjected to daily barrages of political propaganda so strident as to be numbing. Stores selling ordinary consumer goods present their products in displays of militaristic chauvinism. Corruption is endemic and rampant, especially among the oligarchy. The work of sociopolitical engineering must be enormous. Their financial engineering is failing.

The largest country on earth, a nuclear power, is having another serious spasm. The people don’t know what to do with themselves, nor what they can do with themselves. The People’s Liberation Army is the country’s largest interest group, and it is aggressively pursuing its interests, both at home and abroad.

Do you see a soft landing? I don’t.

There’s just no getting over the Chairman.

3 Responses to “Spasmodic”

  1. yankdownunder said

    The largest country on earth, a nuclear power, is having another serious spasm.

    U.S. and Japan agree to bolster missile defense radar in Japan.

    Panetta said the new radar was to defend against North Korea, not China.

    North Korea is more dangerous than China?

    Would these radars be effective in defending Japan from Chinese attack? It seems that Japan is too close to China.

    The new one and the old one can certainly help protect US. Is Japan being used by US? Or is there some benefit to Japan?

  2. Only time will tell if the PLA will act according to how you believe it might, but I just don’t see that happening. The PLA is a tool of the Party, it will never act against it. Are you implying that the PLA will want to embark on external aggression?

  3. […] protests in China have gotten, thankfully so far without any Japanese getting killed, try this Ampontan post. It’s particularly interesting for showing how, with less volume and participation, there […]

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