Former DM spokesman: fight in Japan-related public opinion deserves close attention

Source: China Military OnlineEditor: Zhang Tao
2016-01-07 22:27


Senior Colonel Geng Yansheng, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), answers reporters' questions at a regular press conference on April 30, 2015. (File Photo/Li Aiming)

BEIJING, Jan. 7 (ChinaMil) -- Geng Yansheng, former spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), recently introduced in an article his understanding of the China-Japan relation from the military diplomacy point of view.

The following viewpoints are extracted from his article.

Firstly, we should view the China-Japan relation without bias. Japan's "purchase of the Diaoyu Islands" threw the bilateral relation to a historical low in 2012. Since then, both countries have made great efforts, but bilateral relation has not improved in the least.

It is our judgment that Japan won't do three things: it won't change its wrong stance on territorial and historical issues, it won't waver from the strategy of containing China through the United States, and it won't give up the intention of curbing China's rise.

I'm afraid that China's rise and Japan's adaptation to it will take a long period. The current status of China-Japan relation reflects the periodic characteristics of history.

In this process, I think we should properly handle two matters.

First, we shouldn't get our hopes high and expect that the China-Japan relation will make a drastic turnaround at some moment, which is unrealistic. It will probably remain on a low level for a very long time to come.

Second, we should keep our composure and not let the minor frictions or conflicts between China and Japan affect our normal work on China-Japan relation.

There are two kinds of forces in the China-Japan relation.

One is destructive force. Japan's wrong stance and practices and the right-wing tendency of the Japanese government have exerted adverse impacts on the bilateral relation.

The other is stabilizing force. China and Japan are neighboring countries after all. Their growing interdependence, especially the rise of China, has injected positive elements into regional peace and stability.

The two forces are in a tug-of-war. We cannot expect any major breakthrough in the China-Japan relation, but we should try to keep it generally stable and prevent it from worsening.

Secondly, we should adopt a positive stance while fighting against Japan. In the past, we would adopt countermeasures against Japan's wrong practices, and an important feature of such countermeasures is to stop all contacts and exchanges.

Since friction and conflict is a normal and periodic feature of the bilateral relation, perhaps we should have two cards in the pocket, so as to keep up the firm opposition against Japan's wrong stance and actions while reserving the possibility of contact.

We shouldn't be led away from our strategic goal by contingencies. Only through contact can we understand our rival, make active efforts and fight effectively.

We should properly handle the defense relation. As the barometer of bilateral relation, military defense relation cools off quickly but warms up slowly.

The current recession in China-Japan relation has undoubtedly affected their defense relation seriously. We cannot address the situation by simply stopping all contacts, but should strengthen our work in this area.

At the moment, we should pay close attention to two points. The first is themaritime and air liaison mechanismbetween China and Japan, a work that was proposed in 2007 and has lasted eight years.

The two sides have basically solved all technical problems and agreed to expand the maritime liaison mechanism that we originally proposed tothe maritime and air liaison mechanism.

The main reason why this mechanism is still in suspense is that Japan's "purchase of Diaoyu Islands" has seriously impeded its implementation, but we should keep in mind that not only Japan needs this mechanism, we need it too.

China and Japan have divergences on the East China Sea issue, and their vessels and planes have had frequent contacts.

To assert their respective sovereignty and assertions while avoiding accidents, a set of rules is needed to regulate the actions of both sides because neither of them hopes to see their overall diplomatic relation or fundamental interests undermined by minor conflicts.

Thirdly, under new circumstances, we should pay close attention to the fight in public opinion concerning Japan. The China-Japan conflict is a normal phenomenon now, and the two countries have frequent interactions in the sea area and airspace of the East China Sea.

There are two battlefronts in that area. One is the mutual tracking, surveillance, reconnaissance and expel of Chinese and Japanese warplanes, which is a reciprocal and normal practice. With the establishment ofthe maritime and air liaison mechanism, the risk of such actions leading to conflicts will be kept low.

On the other hand, China and Japan are engaged in an active fight in the public opinion sector concerning their sea and air confrontation. In this regard, Japan has both legal requirements and concrete actions.

For instance, the Japanese government regularly releases information to the media, and once something happens, the prime minister, defense minister and spokesperson would all respond.

That's whyevery time China and Japan have a minor friction, it's usually Japan's voice that we hear first.

Although China has made great efforts in this regard and the situation has improved a lot over the years, objectively speaking, there is still room for improvement in the efficiency and effectiveness of our information release.

To win the fight in public opinion concerning Japan, China should make official statements more frequently, experts and the media also have an important role to play.

In a time of Omnimedia communication and integration, we have made some efforts in the public opinion sector and seen primary achievements, but that still falls short of our requirement and from the expectation of Chinese people.

Especially in the current age of Omnimedia and We Media when public participation is growing, it's more necessary for us to actively guide the public opinion.

The author is Senior Colonel Geng Yansheng, former spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

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