Friday, October 12, 2012

Additional Comments on the Chinese Response to the Senkaku Purchase and the Japanese Reaction

Michael Cucek makes the point on his blog that “… the Chinese Communist Party has a vested interested in shutting down fast any discussion of the nature of property rights, especially as to the limits on state action such rights might impose.”

Agreed. That is an important point in the real world because it implies that the Chinese authorities will continue to act adversely to any further attempts by the Japanese authorities to explain the meaning of the government purchase*. It does not mean that the Japanese authorities should cease and desist. To the contrary, that is the Chinese government’s weakness, not the Japanese government’s. The Japanese government should redouble its efforts to get its own story out there, since the global information cloud is currently dominated by the precipitation from the “nationalization” narrative as forcefully iterated by the Chinese side. A MAFF senior vice minister’s clumsy off-turf attempt to get this point out—“let China buy the islands if it wants”—and the subsequent political fallout**, plus the underlying counter-anger generated by the Chinese reaction, has made it more difficult to actively profess the original passive stance, but it’ll still be useful on the global stage.

He also states, “I am not sure that Chinese local cadres and thugs are entirely bereft of an understanding of a concept of property rights as transcending and superseding law.” Just to be sure, I make no such point in my original post. Instead, it is the notion that it is highly difficult for the Chinese to understand that there is such a thing as property rights that are protected by law from the state that is the assumption for my argument.

Incidentally, I’ve given further thought to the matter of the Chinese assault and have some tentative conclusions that may be useful in forming prevention and mitigation strategies. I’ll try to find the time and energy to put something together.

* Shigeru Ishiba’s comment that “he doesn’t seem to know the law” shows that he’s 1) the one that doesn’t understand the law and the meaning of the arrangement under it; or 2) willing to sacrifice a useful line of Japanese counterattack for political gain.
** It also means, of course, that the Japanese authorities, Noda, Gamba, everyone, were barking up the wrong tree when they trekked to China and elsewhere to explain to their Chinese counterparts ex ante. So what was the vaunted China school at MOFA doing? Did they do any better than Ambassador Niwa?

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