Complexity Of Relations Between US-China-Japan And North Korea – OpEd


Luminary Joseph Nye Jr would like the USA to adopt a policy of avoiding “demonizing each other (i.e. China) and realize that the relationship is not like the Cold War. There is much more economic, social and ecological interdependence between the US and China than ever existed between the US and the Soviet Union.

Instead, policy-makers should see the relationship as a ‘cooperative rivalry’ or ’competitive coexistence’ with equal attention to both parts of the description”. The problem facing the global insecurity is mainly due to the inexperience of Xi-Jinping in dealing with super powers following the Second World War.

Inexperience of Xi-Jinping to handle super powers

Absent were Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachevian who had the foresight to propose advancing comprehensive proposals dealing with strategic offensive and defensive weapons. Agreement seemed at hand for reductions of at least 50 percent in strategic offensive arms. When Reagan proposed a subsequent elimination of all strategic ballistic missiles, Gorbachev counter proposed eliminating all strategic nuclear weapons. Reagan then said he would be prepared to eliminate all nuclear weapons—and Gorbachev promptly agreed.

Contrarily Xi Jinping after the recently held CCP meeting where he appears to have surpassed Mao Tse Tung electing himself President for life.  “Cold warriors lived most obviously in the United States and the Soviet Union, but because the Cold War enveloped the world its warriors were everywhere. They included the Presidents of the USA from Harry S. Truman to George H. W. Bush, and their secretaries of state, among them John Foster Dulles, Dean Rusk, and Henry Kissinger.

Many other U.S. government officials were cold warriors: appointees such as George F. Kennan, Paul Nitze, and Jeanne Kirkpatrick, and elected representatives including senators William Knowland, Joseph McCarthy, and Hubert H. Humphrey. There were members of the intelligence community (J. Edgar Hoover, Edward G. Lansdale, William Colby), prominent journalists who interpreted the Cold War to the American people (Walter Lippmann, James Reston), and theologians, among them Billy Graham, who saw the Cold War as a moral challenge to Americans.

In the Soviet Union a commitment to the Cold War was necessary for the leaders who followed joseph Stalin after 1953, from Nikita Khrushchev to Konstantin Chernenko. The ideologue Andrei Zhdanov was a cold warrior of the first magnitude. Soviet diplomats carried out their superiors’ orders but contributed as well their own mite to the conflict; among them were the longtime foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the ambassador to the United States Andrei Gromyko. Lavrenti Beria, head of Stalin’s secret police, maintained a bloodstained vigil against all forms of Cold War heterodoxy. (Andrew J Rotter-May 21 2018).  

World change From Mao to Xi-jinping 

Many pages of history have gone by. Mao’s China is no longer the China of Xi-Jinping. Yet basically both Mao and Xi-Jinping have very little value for human lives. During Mao’s fight to establish Communism in China millions of people died of hunger and fighting. This fact was brought to the notice of Mao Tse Tung but his responses were that the deaths were inevitable under such circumstances. Xi-Jinping is not callous about human deaths as his response to covid-19 has shown despite his utmost efforts to contain news from spreading out. He succeeded to control the panic within China because of Orwellian tactics employed within the geographical area of China. The situation is Orwellian as described by George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty Four where  all citizens of Oceania, an imagined place in the novel,  are monitored by cameras, are given  fabricated news stories by the government, forced to worship a mythical government leader called Big Brother, (XiJinping in the case of China)are indoctrinated to believe baseless statements and are subject to torture and execution if they question the order of things.

Contrarily the Davos meeting held recently is equally obnoxious because the attendees who have gone to the best schools and have no connection with the poor speak on poverty and how to remove this curse from the face of the earth. 

Hamilton Nolan on Davos

Hamilton Nolan (The Guardian-Australian Edition) has written in a recent article “The utility of any actually worthwhile networking or communication or information-sharing that occurs in the halls of Davos pales in comparison to the inferno of disgust that its existence stokes among millions of angry, mistreated, locked out people around the world who will never set foot inside its security cordon. If nothing else, the attendees of Davos should shut it down out of pure self-interest. They’re making everyone mad.”

He added “ The only useful thing that happens at Davos each year is the release of Oxfam’s report on economic inequality, a document that always drives home exactly why Davos is a monstrosity. This year, Oxfam found that the richest 1% of people had pocketed two-thirds of all the wealth created in the past two years”.

In this milieu where do countries like Bangladesh fit in? We have neither the muscle nor the wealth. 

Bangladesh between China and India

Bangladesh has to steer its way between India and China. Now that President Joe Biden has already declared China as the foremost enemy of the USA and having lost unipolarity that the US had been enjoying since 1954 and is busy repairing the damage wrought by President Donald Trump and building a bridge of freedom loving countries of the world particularly the European Union countries (Germany may be the odd man out despite its support to Ukraine).

As mentioned earlier US Presidents from Reagan to Joe Biden have consistently followed an anti-China policy mainly because, according to \an analyst, on present evidence, Beijing’s ambitions are to be the ‘hegemonic’ power in the Indo-Pacific. In this scenario, China will be increasingly belligerent, willing to use its ‘wolf warrior diplomacy’ to challenge the ‘rules-based order’ put into place by the West and weaponize its multilateral presence. 

Is Chinese belligerence matched by its economic performance

China’s belligerence is not matched by its economic performance. Due to covid China posted one of the worst economic performances in decades. Washington was convinced that Chinese militarization has to be checked despite the fact that China was miles behind the US in armament and in economic performance. But because of Xi jinping’s sabre rattling Washington decided for rearmament of Japan.

In a recent meeting President Biden and Japanese Prime Minister vowed to work together to transform Japan into a potent military power to help counterbalance China and to bolster the alliance between the two nations so that it becomes the linchpin for their security interests in Asia. Japan was infuriated by China’s lobbing of missiles around Taiwan five of which landed in waters by Japan, the first time this had happened. And Japan is increasingly anxious over greater maritime activity by the Chinese military in the East China Sea and around the Senkaku Islands, which is disputed territory between the two governments. This was a departure from the period of General MacArthur’s landing in Japan and the start of the Korean war that ended in the bifurcation of the Korean peninsula into south and north Korea.  

Kim Jong-il and North Korea

Unfortunately for global peace North Korea is now ruled by Kim Jong-il one of the worst kind of dictators imaginable. Kim- jong il’s nuclear brinkmanship has put the world at edge. In June 2018 summit meeting between Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump in Singapore, marking the first face-to-face meeting between the leaders of North Korea and the United States in history. The summit resulted in a joint declaration from both parties, as Trump and Kim agreed to “establish new US-DPRK relations.   

The summit did not yield substantive plans for denuclearization. The July 2018 revelation of the existence of a covert uranium enrichment site suggested that North Korea was still concealing nuclear sites from the international community, which complicated any nuclear deal making. Leading North Korea expert Jeffrey Lewis argued that Kim’s statements instead suggested a willingness to “engage in a process, headed toward an ambiguous goal.” In short the US remains uncertain about peace in Japan and Korean peninsula. 

Russian invasion of Ukraine and global instability

Russian invasion of Ukraine remains the central point of global instability. Added is the Taiwan issue which remains for Xi-Jinping and the Chinese people close to their heart. A Chinese government read out after Presidents Joe Bien and Xi-Jinping in Indonesia in November 2022 stated that “Anyone that seeks to split Taiwan from China will be violating the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation; the Chinese people will absolutely not let that happen! We hope to see, and are all along committed to, peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, but cross-Strait peace and stability and ‘Taiwan independence’ are as irreconcilable as water and fire”.  

Kazi Anwarul Masud is a former Secretary and ambassador of Bangladesh

Ambassador Kazi Anwarul Masud

Kazi Anwarul Masud is a former Secretary and ambassador of Bangladesh

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