A verbal bomb was dropped this week during China’s annual meeting of the National People’s Congress in Beijing. In a stern escalation of rhetoric, Premier Li Keqiang challenged Tokyo’s perceived revisionism. The Financial Times has the story:
“We will safeguard the victory of World War II and the postwar international order, and will not allow anyone to reverse the course of history,” Mr Li said on Wednesday at the opening of China’s rubber stamp parliament.
The Premier’s words are yet another instance of verbal squabbling between the two regional powers, in which alluding to the first and second World Wars has become commonplace. Last January at Davos, far-right Japanese PM Shinzo Abe stoked the fire when he compared Sino-Japanese relations to those between Germany and Britain preceding the Great War. Other countries in the region have been adopting equally aggressive tones against China and Japan over both China’s claims for contested territory in the region and Japan’s increasingly vocal historical insensitivity. Last month, Filipino President Benigno Aquino made waves when he compared China’s territorial aggression to Hitler’s militancy towards Czechoslovakia.China and Japan are locked in a territorial dispute over a string of islands in the South China Sea. The dispute has had a deteriorating effect on Sino-Japanese relations, and has led to a stark uptick in nasty language from both sides, as well as moves by Japan to revise its pacifist constitution.Now it looks like China is willing to put its money where its mouth is. On Wednesday, China announced it would increase its military spending by 12.2 percent, its larger increase in three years.The Middle Kingdom demonstrates an increasing willingness to shape Asia’s future, with or without regional support. Japan, and by extension America, will be concerned.