Information Center

China media: Japan defence paper

Published by January 19,2021

Media lash out at Japan after Tokyo released its defence white paper for 2014.

The document, approved by the Japanese cabinet on Tuesday, expresses strong concern over China's military development and activities in the East China and South China seas.

State-run Xinhua news agency slams the administration of Japanese PM Shinzo Abe for "hyping up the China threat" in order to "justify its military expansion".

"Instead of seeing China becoming a real threat, we have witnessed an increasingly aggressive Japan, a country that has broken its post-war pacifist pledges and looks poised to assert its military presence over the Asia-Pacific," the agency notes.

"Japan's defence policy is a mess… Instead of clinging on to certain impractical political values, the Abe cabinet must inform its own people, as well as neighbouring countries, of how it intends to position its national defence," says Xinhua.

Echoing a similar sentiment, the Beijing Times points out that Tokyo is exaggerating the military threat from China in order to "fulfil Mr Abe's ambition of military expansion".

The People's Daily concludes that Japan's defence white paper "harbours evil intentions". It quotes experts as saying that Tokyo's defence paper will "create tensions in the region and hurt the prosperity and stability in Asia".

An article in the China Daily blames Japan for "defaming China".

"Mr Abe repeatedly calls for a China-Japan leaders' summit, while at the same time depicts Beijing as the villain who is refusing to talk. Yet in reality, it is his cabinet's words and actions that have slammed the door shut on bilateral talks, and they continue to lock and bolt it," says the paper.

Tension with the Philippines

Elsewhere, media express anger at Manila after a Philippine court on Tuesday handed long prison terms to 12 Chinese fishermen who were found guilty of illegal fishing.

According to reports, they were arrested in April last year after their boat drifted into Tubbataha Reef in the southwestern part of the Philippines, which is a marine sanctuary.

Philippine media said the ships had hundreds of frozen pangolins (scaly anteaters which are a protected species) on board.

The court imposed a maximum punishment of 12 years for the boat captain and prison terms of between six and 10 years for the rest of the crew.

Tensions between China and the Philippines have escalated in recent months over rival claims in the South China Sea. Several media outlets describe the Philippine court decision as "deliberate sentencing".

"I see it as political retaliation, a decision that is not based on law," Xu Liping, an expert on South East Asian affairs at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China National Radio.

Zhuang Guotu from Xiamen University is quoted by the Chinese edition of the Global Times as saying that "by handing down the sentences Manila has taken a hard-line approach towards the South China Sea issue".

"The Philippines disregards the human rights of the Chinese fishermen and bilateral ties with China. It will subsequently taste its own medicine," he warns.

A strongly-worded editorial in the same paper describes the Philippines as a "hooligan" and urges Beijing to retaliate.

"China should not leave the world with the impression that it is aggressive, but it will be even more disastrous if others think that Beijing is too weak. If that happens, then China will have to face endless troubles," the daily argues.

And finally, some media outlets discuss the arrest of a Canadian couple on suspicions of espionage.

Chinese authorities are investigating whether Kevin and Julia Garratt have been stealing state secrets about national defence and the military, state media say. The couple run a coffee shop in Dandong just across the border from North Korea.

An unnamed foreign policy expert tells the People's Daily that foreign governments have been spying on China for a long time.

"All these years, as our economy, society and military strengths were developing, some countries wanted to learn more about China. Now that these two Canadian spies have been arrested, we have ample evidence to prove that these countries are really hurting our national security," says the pundit.

The Chinese edition of the Global Times notes that previously Beijing used to adopt a "low profile approach" even if it had "sufficient evidence" to prove that foreign intelligence agencies were spying in China. "But the latest case shows that China is changing its approach to these issues. This represents progress made by the Chinese national security authorities," says the paper.

However, the daily adds that, in contrast to the in-depth reporting of the case in the Western media, papers in China have "acted like bystanders" and have published only "short messages".

It urges the Chinese authorities to "raise their capability in the war of public opinion".

< >