Conservative South Korean activists burn a placard during a protest against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visiting the Yasukuni Shrine to mark the first anniversary of his taking office, in Seoul on Friday. South Korea expressed anger at Abe’s visit to a controversial war shrine, calling it “anachronistic behavior.” Photo: AFP
In the face of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's latest visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, it is impossible for China to sit back, as this would mean indulgence of foreign provocation.
But it will not be worth it if we mobilize large amount of resources for vengeance. We'd be exhausted.
China must take action instead of verbal condemnation. But this response has to be simple and do no harm to ourselves. Large-scale economic sanctions or even military confrontations over the Diaoyu Islands would be too much for us.
Massive rallies nationwide, as happened in the past, are not necessary either. It's too flattering to Japan. Mostly a public protest takes place when a weaker nation tries to express its anger. We should no longer express our anger as if we are empty-handed.
Japan is a big trouble for China, but it is not a strategic contestant like Russia or India. China should approach the Yasukuni visit as a specific matter instead of a strategic issue.
For China, the countermeasures are mainly aimed at venting anger and teach Japan a lesson. There is no need to entangle too deep into this trouble, otherwise we will end up even more infuriated.
It's also important for us to become less fragile. If we make a move and Japan does not care, but when Japan charges back we get upset, we have already lost the game.
Abe has successfully made a big splash by simply walking in and out of the Yasukuni Shrine. If we respond with too much effort and too much cost, he may not be bothered while we exhaust ourselves.
Here are a few simple countermeasures. First, we tell the world that Abe has done a bad thing. South Koreans are also condemning him, and public opinion in the US and Europe is mostly critical. If we respond well, Abe and Japan will lose huge points worldwide.
Second, we need to use a few easy measures to anger the Japanese right wing, so that they may feel bad but find it difficult to launch effective counterstrikes.
On Friday the Global Times proposed blacklisting Abe and other right-wing Japanese officials, and opinion writer Luo Yuan proposed building kneeling-down statues of Japanese war criminals. These are some of the countermeasures that we believe are easy to do and have impact.
These are only the beginning. The Chinese government and other people can also propose their ideas. We believe China has the wisdom to change the game rules over the Yasukuni Shrine issue, and take charge when dealing with Japanese right-wingers.