11 Jan 2010: Sino-Japanese Currents

A few new threads today:

1. The three-part NHK documentary on China’s rise is now available with Chinese subtitles.  Huanqiu’s BBS carries part three here.   Ironically, the name of the series is “China Power” [中国力量], but Huanqiu insists on the eye-catching title instead as “Japanese NHK Documentary: China’s Power: Giant Dragon Swallowing the World” [日本NHK纪录片:中国力量-吞噬世界的巨龙].   And here I thought that recent US media treatments of China were prone to exaggeration of the adversarial aspects of the Sino-Western dynamic.

If you watch the actual film, Part Two of which was featured on this blog yesterday, you will find it to be a fairly conventional look at a bunch of businessmen/bankers meeting in Beijing, almost on the boring side.  I would recommend instead the opening montage which starts at about 2:30 — it depicts hundreds of Chinese people running with digitized flags depicting various epochs in modern Chinese history…The English-language NHK press release on “China Power” indicates the rather dispassionate tone of the series.  Not yet having watched the entire series as a caveat, if this kind of thing can rile up Chinese public opinion against Japan, it seems anything can. 

China Digital Times carries relevant discussion of a previous NHK documentary, the 2007 “China in a Torrent.”

2. This small debate on Huanqiu’s BBS about Chinese vs. Japanese GDP makes an interesting point: What economic indicators make the most sense in gaguing Sino-Japanese relative wealth, and why make a big deal about Chinese surpassing Japan in terms of GDP?  After all, at the time of the Jiawu War ( 甲午战争 ) / Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, China’s GDP was four times bigger than that of Japan!  

Fortunately no one has yet stirred the pot by mentioning that the Jiawu War also ceded Taiwan’s economic output to Japan. 

3. The freshest story — and the one to watch — is that the Japan’s Self Defense Forces mandate is running out in the Indian Ocean.  According to Sankei Shimbun, on January 15, the Japanese navy will be completing its stint on behalf of the U.S. in the Indian Ocean.  This entangles all manner of questions, including the posture of U.S. forces in Okinawa, as Prime Minister Hatoyama is not predisposed to maintain the Indian Ocean mission nor to keep American forces in large numbers in the Ryukyu Islands.

The Chinese press is reporting on this story on two levels: on the one hand, there is some relief that the Japanese SDF, at least in this case, will no longer be pushing the envelope on the peace clause (Article IX) in the pacifist constitution.  On the other hand, China is aware, and is reporting on it to boot, that conservative Japanese media outlets are criticizing Hatoyama for the pullout and crying that the Chinese navy will fill the vacuum in the Indian Ocean.

Indicating such, one of the more conservative mainstream papers in Japan, Sankei Shimbun, reports that even China’s moves to enhance tourism in Hainan Island are geared toward controling the oil and gas resources in the Spratley Islands  (link in Japanese).

The SDF had been in the Indian Ocean on account of anti-terrorism legislation in Japan, but, according to Huanqiu’s rendering of Sankei Shimbun, the fear is that China will now control shipping lanes for vital energy supplies from the Persian Gulf to East Asia.  Fortunately Vladmir Putin has a solution, and China already has some lovely Central Asian sources for more oil!

4. Easily the most alarming story of the day is this dispatch from Tokyo, where a demonstration of right-wing Japanese asserted that there were “too many Chinese” in the city.   

via Huanqiu Shibao

The comment boards are lighting up in China on this story.  Perhaps alarmingly, China’s online censors are allowing comments like  同志们兄弟们,我们也到日本使馆抗议去吧![Comrades and brothers, we will also go to the Japanese Embassy to show our resistance!). 

5. Chinese are rediscovering their anti-Japanese past via Western sources.  This photo gallery indicates as much:

Chinese Women in Training during World War II -- via Huanqiu -- click image for gallery

There has been a spate of publications since 2005 describing topics like Western reporters and missionaries in China, particularly in very popular periodicals like 老照片 (“Old Pictures”, published in Shandong).  As much as the forceful recollections of the Second World War / War of Resistance could be seen as a way of hemming in Japan diplomatically, they are now no less geared toward reminding readers that China was strongly integrated into the world community in the 1930s and has served a crucial function in undergirding global security for decades, not just since 1979.  They also serve to highlight continuities between the Republic of China and the PRC and as such aid in the process of unification with Taiwan.


  1. “Japanese NHK Documentary: China’s Power: Giant Dragon Swallowing the World“

    This title is a mistake of the chinese subtitle translators.

  2. It would be equally interesting to see what the Japanese netizens are saying about China and the Sino-Japanese relationship on places like 2ch. I am guess not too flattering. Unfortunately my Japanese is as good as your Navi.

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