Last year was a bad one for China’s soft power. Will Japan’s response prompt a dangerous spiral of arms spending—and spark conflict? Read the article in The Diplomat here:
Saying publicly for the first time what they’ve thought privately for years, Japanese defence planners in December announced a new defence posture that fingered China’s military rise as justification for a new, more proactive approach, including a refocusing of forces from Japan’s north to its southernmost islands.
Unfortunately, China’s response was as predictable as it was unhelpful: it issued a blunt statement saying that no country had the right to make irresponsible comments about its development.
From a distance, it’s hard not to be alarmed at the three trends that have dominated the region over the last decade: the growth of Chinese power, the relative decline of US power and the resulting remilitarisation of Japanese power. Indeed, given the growth in importance of the region to the global economy, these trends are as alarming as they are dangerous since they have the capacity to be self-fulfilling, driving a cycle of mistrust and spiralling arms spending. And, since Japan’s defence posture automatically includes the United States (which is obliged by treaty to come to Japan’s defence) any potential conflict has all the ingredients for a ‘great power war.’