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China of 2011 isn’t the Japan of 1980s

By Sean King

Calls for greater U.S. openness toward mainland Chinese investment draw faulty parallels with once-shunned Japanese investments of the 1980s. We Americans were admittedly self-defeating and short-sighted – economically, politically and militarily – in our initial resistance to such inbound Japanese largesse. But the China of 2011 isn’t the Japan of the 1980s. In fact, it’s not even the Japan of the 1950s.

Fact: Japan is a free country. China is not. France’s Reporters Without Borders’ 2010 Press Freedom Index ranked Japan the 11th-freest of 178 nations. China comes in at 171st. China blocks Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, while 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo remains under house arrest in Beijing. And when Egypt’s “Jasmine Revolution” broke out in January, Chinese authorities blocked the word Egypt from all major domestic search engines, lest their own people stay current on events there. Heaven forbid!

Fact: Japan is a U.S. ally. China is not. U.S. General Douglas MacArthur launched America’s Korean War effort from Japan and there are roughly 47,000 U.S. troops in Japan today. China came to aggressor North Korea’s aid in said 1950-53 conflict, and accounted for 83% of religious cult-like gangster state North Korea’s international commerce in 2010. Beijing further props up Myanmar and Sudan (take it from Mia Farrow and George Clooney, if you don’t believe me), while also arming Iran. Tehran’s regional network of insurgents has in turn used some of these Chinese weapons on U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, while Iranian proxy Hezbollah fired Chinese C-701 missiles at Israel in the 2006 Lebanon war.

We shouldn’t reject every potential Chinese investment out of hand, not least those investments that have no national security or public sector component to them and that can aid our currently challenged economy. But to imply that our naturally more heightened suspicion of inbound Chinese investments (as compared to those from say, Sweden) is somehow due to some inherent knee-jerk xenophobia – akin to that which we regrettably displayed against ally Japan in the 1980s – is but an all too convenient oversimplification that almost deliberately wants to miss the point.

In fact, up until Mao Zedong’s communists seized power in 1949, no great power was as “pro-China” as the United States. Although we joined the Eight-Nation Alliance that quashed China’s Boxer Rebellion in 1901, America – unlike France, Germany, Portugal or Britain – never colonized any part of the Middle Kingdom. The seeds of modern China’s first attempt at civil government, the Republic of China (ROC), were planted in the mind of ROC founding father Dr Sun Yat-sen during his formative adolescent years in U.S. President Barack Obama’s home state of Hawaii. As a young man, Sun returned to China inspired by the uniquely American ideals of Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln. When given the chance, Sun would tell anybody who would listen that the crux of President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” had shaped his own political philosophy, the Three Principles of the People.

And when the ROC came under Japanese occupation in World War II, China ran its government-in-exile out of Washington, DC. First Lady Madame Chiang Kai-shek even addressed both Houses of the U.S. Congress in 1943. And it was U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt who insisted, much to colonialist British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s chagrin, that Madame and Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek be present – and, treated as Allied equals as part of the “Big Three” – at the 1943 Cairo Conference.

In short, America has no beefs with China’s people. We’ve been on their side more often than not in our own 230 years of existence. But we are inevitably going to have beefs with any unelected government whose legacy includes the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, and one that still tells its own people what they can and can’t read, arms our enemies, and thinks of the South China Sea as its own private toll road.

I realize there’s potentially trillions of dollars in mainland Chinese money out there looking for a place to park itself, in turn making would-be American recipients very happy. But all that glitters is not gold. China is not just another country. For all the possibilities of its long overdue reemergence on the world stage, and its duly proud history, today’s China is still the largest dictatorship on earth that year after year jails more journalists than does any other government.

Until China is a country that’s run by its people for its people, America has every right – in fact, every obligation – to more closely scrutinize its enterprises’ attempts to invest in our country than we would such attempts from countries whose governments share our values and alliances. That’s not xenophobia, or the makings of a Fortress America. It’s just common sense.

© Japan Today

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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It's certainly refreshing to read a more straightforward article on China rather than the dribble coming from most of the other media. The way some of these agencies portray China, they would have you believe that the Yellow Dust coming out of there is made of gold!

I have serious doubts taht China will give any other countires a fair crack at their consumer market. Did you know they are starting to make airplanes now? If they are going to the trouble to start an industry that they don't even have yet, why would they go out of their way to allow other foreign consumer goods in to the market? They're as protectionist and they (bleeping) come and it's not giong to be better as the government becomes richer. And By the way, does writer realize that Chiang Kai-shek was not a communist? Using the fact that the White House treated him as equal has nothing to do with the current Chinese Government.

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Nice article. Thanks

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"Fact: Japan is a free country. China is not."

China have an independent foreign policy. China doesn't accept or work within the Monroe Doctrine. China can doing things and work with other countries without getting permissions from USA. USA can't dictate what China can or must do globally and internally. All these things, Japan is not and can not.

In this sense China is Free, Japan is not. And it is one of the main reason why Sean King, the author of this article, is having problem with China.

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Im not really a know-it-all about China, or the US for that matter(probably couldnt put my dibs on any country actually), but the one thing China is FAMOUS for is it's one child policy. That doesnt sound too free to me. Admittedly I have heard of large families in China, or children who arent registered with the government(that sounds really free), but the freedom to have children is one that makes me want to question your ideals on freedom, iWorld. Now the US population can be very vocal about limiting children, they allow abortion. But they also allow a voice for those who want more than one child too. I mean how does China manage to enforce that law? Like, youve one child there-youre banned from sex, kinda thing? Curious. Chinese mothers are known to be great mothers at getting their children educated and all, surely having one child is kinda limiting on them?

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When I saw the title of this piece I was hoping for a thought provoking article about the mistakes Japan made during the bubble era and some kind of argument for why China, despite all evidence to the contrary, was going to avoid them. That would have been interesting, because there are a lot of parallels between China's economy today and Japan's in the 1980s . There are a ton of difference too of course, but still, it would have been interesting to read a comparison of the two.

Instead we just get some rambling about China being bad, while Japan was an American friend in the 80s. And therefore they are different. OK, anybody could glean that info from 5 minutes on Wikipedia.

Would it not be possible to get some commentary writers who actually know stuff about Japan and have something a bit more original to say? Please!

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We welcome contributions from readers. If you'd care to submit a commentary, please contact the editor at editor@japantoday.com.

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Fact: Japan is a free country.

I stopped reading here. Sorry, you are wrong.

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The Teddy Roosevelt era Monroe Doctrine has nothing to do with modern Japan trade. Yes, China is "free" to manipulate their currency which is effectively cheating the world markets and giving themselves an unfair advantage. Yes, China is also "free" to put people in jail or house arrest for simply speaking their mind. And oh yes, China is "free" to fill their college students' heads full of senseless propaganda. If their students had access to free speech and free media, they wouldn't constantly embarrass themselves by making such aggregously wrong and ethnocentric comments. From my experience, they always include a thinly veiled undertone that China is superior to everyone else. I guess you're right. Japan is not "free" to do those things.

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Cue the Chinese internet propaganda commenters..

From the title I would think that the author would compare and contrast the economic and international-relations aspects of China of 2011 and Japan of 1980s, but it seems to me that the author would rather talk about America and politics. Rather misleading and too America-centric to be of any import.

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First - America has no right to stick their nose into what's not their business. Sure, they may have an interest in pushing China for a change - but a "right" or an "obligation"?? Really? How so?

Obama is forcing americans to purchase health insurance. Obama is forcing americans to fun illegal aliens' education, food, healthcare and roofs. This "Free" America you talk about does not exist. Sure, the title says "Democracy" but the truth is - well, just look at Arizona.

Arizona attempts to protect its boarders and what happens - the US Gov. steps in. Texas wanted to do away with TSA - which is an insult to freedom (Does china allow "officials' to molest 6yr old girls in public, in front of their parents??). So when Texas wanted to do away with TSA, the US Gov threatened Texas by labeling it a no-fly-zone. Freedom? Really, that's freedom?

The US economy is in shambles, the gov. cannot pass a stupid budget. The USA has no money, it's people are poor and without jobs and instead of investing in America, the Gov goes to war with Libya....Right, smart move there, spend more money you don't have!!

Is China "better than" the USA? No, I am not saying it is....but your final statements that the USA has 'the right" has "the obligation" is pure BS!! Before the USA tries to "fix" china - why doesn't the USA try to fix itself first? America does not know best...It is hypocritical, selfish and short-sighted.....How many products in Walmart are labeled "Made in the USA?" ....How many are labeled, "Made in China??"

USA Ford, USA GMC, USA Chrysler...Engine made in Mexico. Vehicle made in China. Even Buick's new car was Engineered in Germany - so what did America do? ha...

The only obligation America has is to Fix itself...for it's people and its future. That's it - fix america before you bring up your "obligations" to China.

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China in some ways have similarity to Japan in the 80's and early 90's. Here why, with the lower labor cost, China has been very dependent on exports. The problem in China, other than strong car sales, is the slow increase in domestic consumption of other manfactured goods. The Yuan has been adjusted from 8.27 per dollar exchange rate in 2007 to 6.46 as of today. Also with the accelerated labor cost increase, the inflation, and the exchange rates, the Chinese will experience more difficulty exporting to other countries. As labor cost continue to rise, there will be continued slowdown in their economy. Currently, about half of the trade inbalance with U.S. is a direct result of U.S. corporation investment. This will change within a decade where U.S. companies will look elsewhere and they will look at alternative places like Vietnam and Southeast countries for labor cost advantage. Then China might experience a bubble in their real estate and their loans in the near future.

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