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Xi Jinping must reconsider dangerous hard-line stance
Publication Date : 15-02-2013
The Chinese military's actions have produced a potentially explosive crisis and markedly damaged the stability of East Asia. General Secretary Xi Jinping of the Chinese Communist Party should be fully aware of this and must change his hard-line diplomatic stance.
About the incidents in which Chinese Navy vessels directed fire-control radar at a Maritime Self-Defence Force destroyer and an MSDF helicopter, the Chinese National Defence Ministry denied that they ever happened, saying it did not use fire-control radar. Furthermore, it explained away whatever actions it did take as "normal observation and alert" using observation radars.
The Japanese government carried out a detailed analysis of the frequency of radar waves and other data and found that differences between the two types of radar are apparent. The Chinese side's claims cannot be accepted at all.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta strongly criticised the radar lock-on incidents, stating that they "could create an even greater crisis".
Japan should cooperate with the United States, which shares its concerns, to convince the international community by all possible means of the unreasonableness of China, which tries to evade responsibility for its dangerously provocative actions.
Xi tilts toward military
Behind the radar incidents is Xi's notable hard-line stance.
In mid-November last year, Xi simultaneously took over the offices of party general secretary and chairman of the party's Central Military Commission from Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Unlike Hu, who assumed the post of military commission chief nearly two years after he became party general secretary, Xi was pressed by the need to rapidly solidify his power over the People's Liberation Army. To that end, we believe, he must have judged it indispensable to maintain a hard-line stance toward other countries.
In just two and a half months after assuming the top military post, Xi inspected the army, navy and air force, the armed police forces and also a satellite launch center in western China, which is an integral part of the country's military technology development. He also met party representatives from a strategic missile corps. What stands out in this series of activities are his "brave" statements.
When he inspected the Lanzhou Military Region in early February, he ordered reinforcement of military readiness, saying, "Expand and deepen combat preparedness." He also stressed in December last year when he visited Guangdong Province that to achieve the dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation the country must fully achieve the dream of a strong army.
Can military be kept in check?
Such an attitude on the part of Xi is seen as enabling the provocative actions of the military, which has become increasingly confident due to the military expansion.
Xi is a civilian but has experience working for the PLA. Due to his experience, the military side may expect further expansion of military budgets. We fear there may be no stopping military expansion under the Xi administration.
Except for Xi, all members of the military commission, which is the leadership of the Chinese military forces, are military personnel. Some observers see an institutional problem, asking whether civilian control can effectively function in such a system.
Can the Xi administration control the military and prevent its forces from running loose? We hope Xi understands such concern, shared among members of the international community, before taking his next actions.