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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/16/21

Using Japan in Pursuit of World Order

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Message Jason Sibert

The rise of China is a big problem for those who believe in the concept of peace through international law.

The People's Republic of China is determined to become a great world power, and the United States has done an extremely poor job of managing its rise. Our policies seem to have given the PRC the idea that we're opposed to their rise as a world power - the maintenance of a network of military bases in Asia long after the collapse of Soviet Russia. Thus, we gave the PRC the idea that they're being contained, and the country certainly pushes back.

The PRC has grown wealthier and are nearing the point where they are as wealthy as the United States. It's spending more on its military, making them a greater power in that realm as well. Many express concerns on the possible invasion of Taiwan by the PRC, a move that will mean war, something our country and the international community in general should want to avoid. The PRC is bandwagoning with other countries that have authoritarian values, as it's in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization with Russia, Iran, and Turkey.

Japan, a United States ally, has increased its military aid to Taiwan, a Japanese colony until 1945, to balance Chinese power. Japan is also in conflict with China over the East China Sea Islands, also called the Senkaku Islands. To its credit, Japan has become a defender of a liberal, rules-based international order in Asia. For one, the country's democracy seems to be holding the line in a world of rising authoritarianism. Its attempts to balance China (an authoritarian power) are also positive sign for the liberal order for a simple reason - if one power becomes too powerful in an international system then other states emerge to balance that power.

President Joe Biden voiced support to repairing our alliances after the Donald Trump administration's policies frayed them. Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade alliance designed to balance the power of China in establishing a rules-based trading system in Asia by setting rules on intellectual property and data governance. It promoted liberal trade in contrast to the illiberal Chinese view of trade. Biden has said we should rejoin the TPP. Japan became a semi-pacifist nation after turning to fascism and being defeated in World War II. Its economy grew and our country encouraged Japan to take charge of more of its defense after the fall of the Soviet Union and it did so. Japan has amended its constitution to participate in United Nations' missions and it has participated. Japan is also ramping up its foreign aid to levels comparable to China. Between 2001 and 2011, Japan has funneled $12.7 billion in aid to Southeast Asian countries. More than double the aid of China! This small Asian country is playing a role in shaping international norms.

However, and it's rarely mentioned in our politics, the U.S. has not downsized its defense footprint as Japan has played a larger role. Biden should concentrate on recommitting our country to multilateral institutions and try to rebuild our reputation in Asia, although it's in tatters after four years of Trump, as stated by Chang Che is his story "Japan is the New Leader of Asia's Liberal Order."

China's illiberal ideas on trade need to be confronted by those who believe in democracy and a liberal trading system. A Trumpian nationalism that treats allies as if they are foes is the wrong way to go. A multilateral approach would give the struggle against China an ideological dimension and move it out of the military sphere. China can be confronted, and a world at peace can be maintained, by adding another layer to this conflict that is growing hotter all the time.

There is an answer to our problems, which include the PRC but isn't limited to the country. The world we are entering into can be described as multipolar, with different powers dominating different parts of the world. The 19th-century Concert of Europe, which included Russia, France, the United Kingdom, Prussia, and Austria, would be a good model for today. The Concert of Europe, which kept the peace in Europe from the end of the Napoleonic wars to World War I, was politically inclusive, just like a new concert of power that would include Asian countries like China and Japan.

A new concert would give politically powerful states a position of power and not discriminate on the type of government the nation-state or city-state has, as it would separate ideological differences from matters of international law. A new concert of power would discuss and solve hot topics - Taiwan, the greenhouse effect, nuclear arms (especially North Korea), disputed territory, and trade. With some guidelines, we could maintain a free Taiwan and work toward solutions to issues that threaten the security of the PRC, Japan, and all Asian countries.

A new concert of power would give new meaning to the world of international law in a time when so much divides our world. In time, authoritarianism will melt away as the popularity of the democratic republic grows.

Jason Sibert is the Executive Director of the Peace Economy Project in St. Louis.

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Jason Sibert worked for the Suburban Journals in the St. Louis area as a staff writer for a decade. His work has been published in a variety of publications since then and he is currently the executive director of the Peace Economy Project.
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