News / Asia

Japan, China to Square Off at Regional Security Forum

FILE - Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks next to the Japanese national flag.
FILE - Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks next to the Japanese national flag.
Reuters
— A major regional security conference is shaping up as a face-off between Asia's two biggest powers, as Japan sends its hawkish prime minister and China dispatches a feisty diplomat instead of the usual brass to counter Tokyo's more assertive message.
 
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office in 2012 promising to bolster the role of the nation's military, will deliver the keynote address at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore at the end of the month.
 
Beijing is sending Fu Ying, a tough and articulate former deputy foreign minister now serving as chairwoman of the Chinese parliament's foreign affairs committee, who is expected to make the case that it is Japan, not an increasingly powerful China, which threatens regional security.
 
Sino-Japanese tensions over a string of Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea that are also claimed by Beijing spiked two years, ago shortly before Abe took office.
 
Relations were further strained when Abe last December visited Tokyo's controversial Yasukuni Shrine, where Japanese World War II leaders convicted by an Allied tribunal as war criminals are honored along with millions of war dead.
 
“We understand that the Chinese are keen to continue participating and will be sending a strong delegation, and Fu Ying's appearance reflects that,” said Tim Huxley, Singapore-based executive director of the International Institute of Strategic Studies (Asia), which organizes the event.
 
“Our impression is that Prime Minister Abe's speech will stimulate a lot of interest, not least in China, and understandably they want to be in a position to respond swiftly and appropriately,” Huxley said.
 
China's foreign ministry said it was unable to confirm Fu's attendance.
 
China has yet to confirm who will head the delegation from the People's Liberation Army, Huxley said. China's defense ministry did not respond to request for comment.
 
A source familiar with China's foreign policy, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Fu was a good choice to go and spar with Abe.
 
“She is well-versed in putting across China's position to an international audience,” said the source.
 
A polished English-speaker - still a rarity among senior Chinese officials - Fu is no stranger to taking on Japan.
 
Fu attended the Munich Security Conference earlier this year, where she criticized Japan for what she said was its “denial” of its crimes during World War II.
 
“She can be very charming but she can also be very tough,” said a diplomatic source in Beijing. “She will give a robust response to anything Abe says.”
 
Regional tensions
 
Organizers of the forum usually invite a regional prime minister or president to give the keynote address. Last year it was delivered by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
 
Abe, accompanied by his defense minister and national security adviser, will likely be carrying what has become a consistent message from the Japanese leader on the world stage since he took office: that Japan will stick to a peaceful path, that Tokyo wants to play a bigger role on the global security stage, and that all nations should follow the rule of law.
 
In a speech at the North Atlantic Council this month, Abe - pointing to the growing security tensions in the region - highlighted China's hefty defense spending, along with what he called Beijing's efforts to change the status quo by force in the East and South China Seas, where China has territorial disputes with Japan and Southeast Asian nations.
 
While Japan is wary of China's growing military assertiveness, Beijing is suspicious of Abe's efforts to loosen the limits of Japan's pacifist post-war constitution on its military.
 
Relations have also long been soured by Chinese resentment of Japan's wartime occupation of large parts of China and the belief that Japan has never properly atoned for its actions.
 
Unlike most other countries, China does not usually send a top-ranked official to the Shangri-La Dialogue. It has sent its defense minister only once - in 2011.
 
Last year, China's most senior official at the forum was Lieutenant General Qi Jianguo, the People's Liberation Army's deputy chief of general staff, who used the opportunity to ease concerns about Beijing's intentions.
 
A series of moves by China have unsettled its neighbors in recent months, including the declaration of a new air defense zone in the East China Sea and a more confrontational stance in the disputed South China Sea.
 
Tensions rose in the resource-rich South China Sea last week after China positioned a giant oil rig in an area also claimed by Vietnam. Each country accused the other of ramming its ships near the disputed Paracel Islands.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid