Wednesday, May 09, 2007

China: Short Imaginary Interview with Wen Jiabao

1. You skipped a few lines when you made the speech in the Japanese Diet.

Everybody makes mistakes.

The lines you skipped were the most important lines from the Japanese viewpoint, since Japanese authorities have long insisted that the Chinese historical narrative has focused solely on its relationship with Japan up to and including the war while downplaying or completely neglecting the post-war role of Japan. To wit, you dropped the following lines:
"Japan chose the road of peaceful development after the warm and became one of the main economic powers of the world and a member of international society with great influence. As a friendly neighbor of your nation, the people of China supports the people of Japan in continuing to walk this road of peaceful development.
Full Japanese text (translation status unknown) here.)

Oh, did I mention the speech was broadcast simultaneously in China?

2. You made an unexpected invitation to the Emperor to visit China for the Beijing Olympics.

Did Prime Minister Abe ask my permission when he invited head of state Hu Jintao to Japan?

The Emperor is not the decider, and that includes state visits. Didn't your ambassador tell you that?

Of course he did.

3. On 11 April, CNOOC, one of the two Chinese flagship oil companies, announced that it had commenced production at the "樫 (Oak)" (天外天 (Heaven beyond the Heavens) to you) gas fields near the Japan-China median line on the East China Sea.

What could they do? They had to file a report to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. We don't make the disclosure rules for the stock exchange.

Filing it during your visit to Japan certainly made it difficult for the Abe administration to make noises.

Look, I didn't invite myself to Japan, your guys did.

4. You visited Daisaku Ikeda, the head of the Sokagakkai and spent more with him.

China has a forty year relationship with Sokagakkai. How could I not look him up?

Sokagakkai works hand in glove with Komeito. In fact, the dovish Komeito is Sokagakkai, and, as ruling coalition partner, is a powerful restraint on any moves to the right any LDP-led administration might attempt.

Is it in anybody's interests, including Mr. Abe's, for him to push the right-wing agenda?

Each one of these events can be explained away as a mistake or coincidence. Taken together, they show a China that is The Big Fundamental of geopolitics. It may be slow, it may be clumsy, but once it understands what's going on, it does a very good job of getting to all the right spots and making the plays.

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