Stop crying wolf about China

Regarding Michael Richardson’s June 6 article, “China’s troubling core interests“: Richardson is again beating the “China threat” drum as if repeating this theme over and over will somehow convince others of its verity.

Richardson conflates some “ifs” and “maybes” and then “reaches” to imply that China is claiming the entire South China and East China seas as its “sovereign territory”- and thus as a “core interest.” In Richardson’s opinion, this makes China’s maritime claims something that China would — by definition — go to war over. As I suspect Richardson knows, a sovereignty claim to islands — “land” — is legally and politically quite different from a sovereignty claim to resources and very different from a sovereignty claim to maritime space.

Of course, China’s sovereignty claim to islands is a “core interest,” as is any country’s claim to sovereign territory, but a claim to historic rights to resources in the South China Sea and allegedly to maritime space are something markedly different.

Richardson needs to take a deep breath, stop demonizing China and, above all, stop crying wolf about China and its maritime claims. The situation calls for clear, levelheaded thinking — not drumbeating and exaggeration.

mark j. valencia
kaneohe, hawaii

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

  • henrynguyen

    I reviewed Richardson as prompted by you and found a fairly factual report while “crying” is very much all yours. He stated documents, you apologized for China with vague sentences. It’s the people like you that indirectly encourage Chinese expansionist acts throughout Asia.
    . Has China ever assured you or anyone else that they are happy and won’t continually add more to their ” core interests “? Mark my word: next added item to their ” core interests ” will be Okinawa.
    . If ” a sovereignty claim to islands — “land” — is legally and politically
    quite different from a sovereignty claim to resources and very different
    from a sovereignty claim to maritime space.” then, what is China doing in the South China Sea with its navy chasing neighbor’s oil exploration ships and fishing boats away from its 9 dash map?
    . Talking and preparing to deal with China as an imminent danger to world peace and stability is not ” crying wolf “. After faked ” peaceful rise ” is exposed, China now presents ” co-development ” schemes and no one is fooled any more. Why do you think South East Asian nations spend record amount upgrading defensive security?

  • Ken5745

    I agree with Mark that “Richardson is again beating the “China threat” drum as if repeating this theme over and over will somehow convince others of its (veracity)” .

    In my opinion, Michael Richardson’s claim that ‘China under Xi will try to expand its Asia-Pacific power and influence in ways that limit and constrain the US, its allies and security partners in the region.’ is a logical fallacy, in which the conclusion is not supported by the premises. It is another vintage Richardson ‘China-threat’ chestnut that he dishes out ad nauseum.

    Firstly, you don’t need to be Albert Einstein to see that China has only one refurbished aircraft carrier vs 11 Carrier Groups operated by the US Navy and there is no way China can expand and project its Asia-Pacific power anytime in the near future. And paradoxically how is China able ‘influence in ways that limit and constrain the U.S., its allies and security partners in the region.’ when it is not even invited to join the TPP?

    Secondly, “Beijing’s claim to the disputed Senkaku Islands and surrounding parts of the East China Sea” is only a core interest” after Japan unilaterally nationalized the disputed islands in Sept 2012.

    Before that the two countries were happy to shelve the disputes on the islands for a wiser future generation to solve, when the two countries decided to normalize diplomatic relations in Sept 1972.

    Although Mr Abe and the his Ministers have denied any such ‘shelving’ of the island dispute, this was confirmed recently by former chief Cabinet Secretary Mr Hiromu Nonaka, who told reporters in Beijing that “Just after the normalization of relations, I was told clearly by then-Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka that a decision was made on the normalization by shelving the Senkaku issue. and as a living witness, I would like to make (it) clear.”.

    Thirdly, China’s claim to the Paracel island or Xisha by its Chinese name is not a new core interest. China’s claims goes back to the Song Dynasty.

    On September 14, 1958 , Premier Pham Van Dong of Nth Vietnam stated in his note to Premier Zhou Enlai that Viet Nam had no claim on the Paracel either historically or geographically.

    Additionally, when Vice Foreign Minister Dung Van Khiem received Mr. Li Zhimin, charge d’affaires ad interim of the Chinese Embassy in Viet Nam he told him that “according to Vietnamese data, the Xisha and Nansha Islands (The Spratlys) are historically part of Chinese territory.” Mr. Le Doc, Acting Director of the Asian Department of the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry, who was also present, added that “judging from history, these islands were already part of China at the time of the Song Dynasty.”

    Fourthly, China invented the compass and ship’s rudder for ocean sailing. she was the first nation to sail the high seas starting from 1421 when Admiral Zheng He set sailed with 200 ships and 22,000 sailors in 7 voyages.

    He explored the South China seas and sailed through the now-named Straits of Malacca to Ceylon, India, Oman and to East Africa, not to invade and colonize which the British, Dutch and the Portuguese did a century later, but to trade.

    Admiral Zheng He did this 70 years before Columbus set sail to the new world.

    For the Philippines to claim to be the first nation to discover the disputed Scarborough shoals when a 1774 map of the Philippine Islands depicted the Scarborough Shoal as Panacot Shoal is ludicrous. Yet China is prepared to develop the shoals with the Philippines if the latter cools down the rhetoric.

    As a journalist and a member of the Fourth Estate, Michael Richardson has the responsibility to report news accurately and sensitively. In this article he has failed on both counts.