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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 69/No. 9March 7, 2005

lead article
Washington, Tokyo: defense
of Taiwan ‘common objective’
U.S. gov’t warns of Beijing’s military strength,
presses EU powers on China arms embargo
AFP/Jiji Press
Aegis destroyer USS Lake Erie docks in Japan’s Nigata port October 11. The ship is part of Washington’s “anti-ballistic missile defense shield” aimed at giving the U.S. military nuclear first-strike capability against China and north Korea.

Washington and Tokyo have revised a 1996 security pact that now describes the Straits of Taiwan as a “common strategic objective” according to a joint statement released by the two governments. The move is part of an escalation in the aggressive posture of the two imperialist powers toward the Chinese workers state. Beijing has condemned the move as meddling in the internal affairs of China.

In a number of recent statements, U.S. officials have expressed alarm that the growing military and economic might of Beijing may weaken the military balance between the U.S.-backed regime in Taipei and Beijing. During a visit to Belgium, U.S. president George Bush expressed “deep concern” at the prospect of European Union (EU) governments lifting a 15-year-old arms embargo against China, saying access to strategic weapons would “change the balance of relations between China and Taiwan.”

The move by Tokyo to forge a closer military relationship with U.S. imperialism in relation to Taiwan registers another step in the drive by the Japanese ruling class to increase the use of its military to defend its imperialist interests around the world.  
China responds to threat
“The Chinese government and Chinese people firmly oppose the U.S.-Japan statement on the Taiwan issue, which concerns China’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and national security,” said Kong Quan, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry.

An article in China Daily said the revision of the U.S.-Japan security pact is “nothing short of blatant meddling in China’s internal affairs, and amounts to a direct challenge to our sovereignty, territorial integrity, and State security.”

The article noted that this was the first time the issue of Taiwan had been mentioned “explicitly” in the military pact between Washington and Tokyo. The 1998 U.S.-Japan security pact reportedly included the more indirect phrase, “areas surrounding Japan that have an important influence on Japan’s peace and security.”

With the victory of the Chinese revolution in 1949, the defeated forces of the capitalist government headed by Chiang Kai shek, which had the full backing of U.S. imperialism, fled to the island of Formosa, also known as Taiwan. Washington dispatched the U.S. 7th Fleet to prevent Chiang’s forces from being overrun. In 1955 Washington signed a “mutual” security treaty with Chiang’s regime, arming the capitalist government in the breakaway Chinese province to the teeth.

Washington has used Taiwan as a dagger aimed at the Chinese workers state. In 1958, the regime in Taiwan moved troops onto the coastal islands of Quemoy and Matsu, blocking key mainland Chinese ports. Washington threatened nuclear war when China defended itself.  
Expansion of Chinese Navy
Washington has expressed growing fears that China may pose a challenge to U.S. imperialism’s interests in the region. U.S. officials are particularly alarmed that Washington’s massive Navy may soon be challenged by the growing size and sophistication of Beijing’s.

In a meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee February 17, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was asked if he was “concerned about projections that the Chinese fleet may well surpass the American fleet in terms of numbers in just a decade’s time.” Rumsfeld responded that it is an issue the Defense Department is “concerned about and is attentive to.” He said Beijing’s defense budget has been growing “sometimes in double digits.”

“We don’t have a great deal of visibility into that, but their budgets are growing significantly in defense things,” Rumsfeld said. “They’re purchasing a great deal of relatively modern equipment from Russia. And as you pointed out, they have been expanding their navy and expanding the distances from the People’s Republic of China that their navy ventures.”

Rumsfeld added that “we hope and pray [China] enters the civilized world in an orderly way.” Defense department spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said later that Rumsfeld “did not mean to suggest China was not a civilized nation,” the New York Times reported.

“In 2004, China increased its ballistic missile forces deployed across from Taiwan and rolled out several new submarines,” CIA director Porter Goss told the Senate Intelligence Committee a day earlier. “China continues to develop more robust, survivable nuclear-armed missiles, as well as conventional capabilities for use in regional conflict.

Goss added that “China is increasingly confident and active on the international stage, trying to ensure it has a voice on major international issues, to secure access to natural resources, and to counter what it sees as United States efforts to contain or encircle it.”  
EU arms embargo against China
The U.S. government is seeking to convince its rivals in Europe that they should extend a 15-year-old arms embargo against China. “There is a deep concern in our country that a transfer of weapons would be a transfer of technology to China,” Bush said, responding to a question about the arms embargo during a February 22 press conference in Belgium. The transfer of such technology “would change the balance of relations between China and Taiwan,” he said.

A team of European officials will attempt to convince the White House that the EU decision to lift the arms trade ban will not ease Beijing’s access to high-tech weapons, reported the February 21 Wall Street Journal. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution in February condemning the EU’s plan to end the embargo by a vote of 411 to 3.

During Bush’s visit to Europe, French president Jacques Chirac said the embargo, imposed in 1989 allegedly in response to Beijing’s crackdown on demonstrators in Tiananmen Square, was no longer justified, reported Reuters. Chirac also noted that Canada and Australia have no restrictions on arms sales to China. Despite the embargo, reported the Journal, some of the EU’s larger arms producers—France, Britain and Italy—sell military goods to China. In 2001 for example arms sales from EU countries to China amounted to 62 million euros, or about $81 million dollars. By 2003 that had climbed to $565 million.  
Japanese remilitarization drive
“It would be wrong for us to send a signal to China that the United States and Japan will watch and tolerate China’s military invasion of Taiwan,” said Shinzo Abe, the acting secretary general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, according to the Washington Post. “If the situation surrounding Japan threatens our security, Japan can provide U.S. forces with support.”

Abe’s comments about Tokyo aiding Washington militarily in a conflict with China reflect the efforts by the Japanese rulers to extend the use and capabilities of their military forces, and get the Japanese public used to the idea. The constitution imposed on Japan by the U.S. occupation following Tokyo’s defeat in the Second World War prohibit the use of Japanese troops abroad. Prime Minister Koizumi has said that his party will push to revise the constitution.

Last December Tokyo issued new national security guidelines that singled out China as a threat. The guidelines also described the military cooperation of Tokyo with Washington in a number of fields. One example the document points to is the close collaboration between the two governments in working to deploy a ballistic missile defense system aimed at China and north Korea.

Last September the U.S. Navy deployed state-of-the-art Aegis destroyers in the Sea of Japan off the waters of north Korea laying the foundation for a U.S. “missile shield” that includes Japan.

The two imperialist powers have also been working closely as part of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). Under the initiative, Washington and its imperialist allies assert the right to stop, board, and confiscate the cargo of any ship they claim to suspect of carrying “weapons of mass destruction.”

In 2004 Tokyo deployed its first troops abroad since 1945, sending a detachment of hundreds of soldiers to join in the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.

As part of the militarization drive the Japanese rulers have begun to take steps aimed at reviving Japanese nationalism and painting over the crimes of Japanese imperialism’s past military exploits. Four times since he became prime minister in 2001, Koizumi has visited the Yasukuni Shrine where Japanese war dead are buried.

Japan’s minister of education, Nariaki Nakayama, slammed Japanese history textbooks for “self laceration,” reported the Korean daily Chosun Ilbo. He said there should be fewer references to “comfort women” in the texts, referring to the widespread practice of the Japanese troops of abducting women to be used as sexual slaves during Japan’s imperialist expansion from 1910-1945.
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