Revanchist China

For today's China, imbued with a sense of superior moral worth, historical achievement, and victimization by foreigners, the current regional order is unjust and unnatural. So pulling back from any territorial dispute with smaller and inferior states would be a humiliating defeat, not a step toward ensuring long-term regional stability.

SYDNEY – In a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, on February 22, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe informed the audience of officials, experts, and journalists that Japan is “back” and will not stand down in its ongoing sovereignty dispute with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. With Chinese provocations on the rise, US President Barack Obama, Abe’s host, appealed for calm and restraint on both sides.

Japan is likely to accede – grudgingly – to America’s request, as it remains dependent on its alliance with the US for its security. But it will be much more difficult to persuade China that it should stand down.

China’s assertiveness over its sovereignty claim reflects more than a desire to exploit seabed resources, or to gain a widened strategic gateway into the western Pacific. It is also about national renewal and rejuvenation – the core of the Chinese Communist Party’s raison d’être. Turning away from a fight with its former occupier and historical rival would be a step backward in this six-decade-long quest.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.


Log in;