China's Rising Anxiety

japanese ships chase taiwan ship, asia
On the eve of a visit by its foreign minister, China cautioned Japan on Tuesday against conducting military exercises overseas, saying the drills might harm the region's peace and stability.

The warning came amid renewed accusations by Chinese officials and media that Japan is plotting to resurrect its military might dismantled after defeat in World War II. At the center of the criticism is Japan's participation in a multinational submarine rescue exercise to be held later this year near Singapore.

Countries participating in such exercises should not do anything that may be detrimental to stability and peace in this part of the world, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said Tuesday.

Zhang's boss, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, leaves Wednesday for a four-day visit that will include meetings with new Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and other leading politicians, economic groups and non-governmental organizations.

Although Zhang was muted in her remarks, the wholly state-controlled media has been more shrill. While Japan has participated in joint rescue operations in the past, this year's exercises will be the first to involve military vessels.

"The ghost of militarism is stirring on the Japanese archipelago," the newspaper of China's politically influential military said in a front-page commentary published Monday under the title "A Dangerous Signal."

Tokyo could deploy dozens of nuclear weapons and "join the ranks of nuclear powers," within just a six-month period, the Liberation Army Daily said.

China has long viewed any move by Japan to strengthen its defenses and cooperation with U.S. troops as an attempt to revive the war machine that invaded China and colonized much of Asia in the years before and during World War II.

Lingering resentment is fed by the actions of ultranationalist Japanese right-wing groups and comments by Japanese politicians downplaying wartime atrocities committed by Tokyo's Imperial Army.

China also suspects Japan and the United States of seeking to extend their sphere of defense over Taiwan, which Beijing claims as a breakaway province to be reunified by force if necessary. Both Japan and the United States -- which has 47,000 troops based in Japan and a legal obligation to ensure Taiwan can defend itself -- have avoided clarifying whether their defense pact commits them to act if Taiwan comes under attack.

"Japan's aggressive military buildup may have a huge impact on peace and development in the Asian-Pacific region and in the world," China's Outlook magazine said in a recent report. It charged Japan and the United States with attempting to bring Taiwan into their military alliance.