On Oct. 24, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence gave a speech sharply criticizing China’s expansive policy and worsening human rights problem, and the speech’s extreme impact is spreading. It was reported by The Sankei News on Oct. 25 (“Vice President Pence Gives Anti-Chinese Speech – Puts Pressure on Suppression of Human Rights – Also Criticizes Senkaku Problem”), while a Sankei editorial recommended a diplomatic posture for Japan. (“Pence’s Anti-Chinese Speech: Fall in Line, Japan”).
Being Japanese, I believe the speech can be broadly separated into two main points of analysis. First, as a democratic country, America’s position is very understandable, and Pence expertly discussed the undesirable human rights conditions on China’s periphery – the recent problems in Hong Kong, the Taiwan Strait, Tibet and with Xinjiang’s Uighurs. Second, the speech sounded an alarm bell, not just about China’s advances into the South China Sea and Solomon Islands, but about how China, like dictatorships that monitor their subjects, is trying to spread undemocratic and repressive systems around the world as it invests in Southeast Asia and Africa.
The Hong Kong problem is about how Hong Kong, despite its rich economic position, objects to China’s strategy of steadily eroding the “one country, two systems” setup with things like the extradition law; over 1 million Hong Kongers damaged the economy by marching for their city’s future. With Tibet and the Uighurs of Xinjiang, it is becoming clear that China is conducting a severe form of administration of its domestic minorities that could be called oppression, and it is turning into a human rights situation we cannot ignore or regard as a domestic Chinese issue.
Furthermore, China is broadly advancing into other countries with its powerful economy as a pretense, and it is also imposing a dictatorial system on the small and medium-sized countries it is investing in, which recalls the mercantilism of the colonial era. It should be understood that this is no longer a simple problem of one-party Communist rule within China itself; America can no longer tolerate the ideological confrontation.
Naturally, China is vigorously protesting this, but despite its many problems, the Donald Trump administration has a good chance of gaining the advantage in the next election, and neighboring countries will be pressured to make a decision.
Unmistakably, the Chinese-American conflict is exceeding that of a simple trade dispute and growing into a cold war that revolves around a new world order. The time has come for the government of Shinzo Abe, who is still clinging to a conciliatory policy with China, to make its stance clear. I believe that the news media should thoroughly do its part to broadly urge the people to gradually leave peace behind, and forcefully report on its front pages that Japan must return to the front lines of this tense global situation.
About this publication