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[转载]亚洲四骑士:The perils of Asia’s nationalist power game

已有 6335 次阅读 2014-5-24 01:20 |个人分类:感言社会|系统分类:海外观察|关键词:亚洲| 亚洲 |文章来源:转载


May 22, 2014 7:12 pm

The perils of Asia’s nationalist power game
Modi completes a quartet of combative leaders in the most powerful nations of the region
Ingram Pinn illustration©Ingram Pinn

India has a new prime minister; and each of Asia’s four most powerful nations is now led by a combative nationalist. The multilateralist assumptions of the postwar order are giving way to a return to great power competition. Nationalism is on the march, and nowhere more so than in the rising east.

On the face of it, Narendra Modi’s victory in India’s election had little connection with geopolitics. Mr Modi’s pitch was to a nation tired of the incompetence and corruption of the Congress party. His promise was faster economic growth and rising living standards. His ambitions, though, reach beyond the domestic: India should be China’s match on the global stage.

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ON THIS STORYON THIS TOPICPHILIP STEPHENS

Mr Modi’s Hindu nationalism fits the temper of the region. China’s President Xi Jinping wants to restore the Middle Kingdom to past pre-eminence. Deng Xiaoping’s caution has been replaced by demands for due deference to Chinese power.

In Toyko, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic programme is driven by a resolve to rebuild Japan’s capacity to stand up to Beijing. Vladimir Putin, the fourth of Asia’s nationalist horsemen, has shown with his military intervention in Ukraine Russia’s contempt for a co-operative international order.

Mr Abe hopes Tokyo will be the first port of call when Mr Modi steps out overseas. The Indian prime minister-elect, officials say, shares Mr Abe’s temperament and goals. The talk is of a grand strategic bargain. Japan has the technology and investment to speed India’s economic development. Delhi would be a powerful ally in containing China. Each has territorial quarrels with Beijing – Japan in the East China Sea and India on its northern border. Both worry about Chinese naval power in the Indian Ocean.

The Sino-Japanese relationship could hardly get worse. Beijing is pressing its claims to the disputed Senkaku (in Chinese, Diaoyu) islands in the East China Sea. Mr Abe has struck a revisionist pose by visiting Tokyo’s Yasukuni shrine, where class-A war criminals are honoured alongside fallen soldiers. Barack Obama’s US administration, bound to Japan in the region’s pivotal security alliance, finds itself trying to deter Beijing while restraining Tokyo.

After confronting the west, Mr Putin is turning east. He was in Beijing this week to clinch a big gas supply deal. The contract is intended as a signal to western critics that the Kremlin has alternative markets for its hydrocarbons and a powerful friend in the rising world.

For the moment the arrangement suits Mr Xi. China needs the gas, and Russia can be a convenient ally at the UN. Beijing, like Moscow, sees the present international system as skewed in favour of the west. The partnership, though, is unequal. China is scornful of Russia’s failing economy and of the social and demographic trends dragging the country into decline. Mr Putin’s role, then, is that of the useful idiot.

Mr Abe thinks the Kremlin can be tempted to hedge its bets. Russia is nervous of China’s growing presence in a fast-depopulating Siberia. Over time, Chinese citizens may become the dominant ethnic group in the Russian far east. How long before Beijing applies to Chinese citizens on Russian soil the doctrine of extraterritoriality Mr Putin has deployed in Ukraine? Mr Abe, who has been sotto voce in his criticism of Russian annexation of Crimea, calculates it is time to “normalise” Russo-Japanese relations.

This turning kaleidoscope of rivalries and realignments is further complicated by a swirl of collisions involving smaller players. China is in angry dispute with Vietnam and the Philippines over competing claims in the South China Sea. South Korea should be a natural ally of Japan, but Mr Abe’s reluctance to acknowledge the sins of Japan’s imperial past nudges Seoul towards accommodation with Beijing. China accuses Washington of turning neighbours against it. More likely, China’s heavy-handedness is driving them into America’s arms.

One consequence of this is a rapid build-up of military forces across the region. China and Russia have set double-digit increases in their defence budgets. The Indian military has secured a similar rise, and intends to lay first claim on the fruits of Mr Modi’s promised economic revival.

For his part, Mr Abe wants to reinterpret Japan’s postwar constitution to ease the constraints on its capacity to deploy force. At a glance, his proposed changes seem modest enough but, set in the context of the times, they speak to a strategy of building a network of security alliances against China.

Stir in the toxic legacy of disputed history and the absence of international mechanisms to settle the border spats, and the region looks ever more combustible. For now, the US holds the ring. American power may be waning, but it still outguns everyone else. The question uppermost in the minds of every Asian leader is for how long?

Watching Washington’s retreat from the Middle East, many of its allies have doubts about the longevity of the US security guarantee. Japanese and South Korean officials say they need the US in the short to medium term, but must make their own plans for the long term. China’s strategy looks pretty clear – to push the US out of the western Pacific and claim tribute from its neighbours. It will push and prod to test Washington’s resolve.

What’s wrong with nationalism, a friend in Tokyo asked me the other day? Well, there is much to be said for patriotism. As for nationalism, the answer is found in the bloodied pages of European history. I doubt, though, that Asia’s four horsemen have taken the time to read them.

philip.stephens@ft.com

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  1. Report Apostle | May 23 3:57pm | Permalink
    @Hi there writes – “(On India) … Their historical memory of colonization was not as traumatic as that of China which creates far less friction with the Western value system.”

    1. That hypothesis is quite off. The reverse is more true. Before colonialism ended in 1947, the trauma was extreme – not just from racial discrimination and divide-and-rule abuse, but from deaths during famines, epidemics and religious riots. Before Western colonialism, Islam’s arrival and its violence and discrimination against Hindu, Jain and Sikh “dhimmis” in India was not a pretty picture either.

    2. After 1947, if you study Mr Nehru speeches, and the first 40 years of dynasty-derived prime ministers – with short 1977-80 exception – the colonial trauma was front and center. Indian government and elite invited state visits from and named major streets after Mr Robert Mugabe, Mr Fidel Castro and Mr Yasser Arafat-likes, while making USSR their source of ideology, industrial equipment, aircrafts, ships and guns (for UN, India had non-aligned mask). Outside of Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai intellectual circle, the Indian poor instinctively went along in part because of the historical memory of colonial trauma.

    3. Similarly, your comment on “poverty problem creates socialistic tendency in (Indian) public policy” is off - Indian poverty is a result of Fabian socialism, not the other way around (see Indian government’s speeches to justify Hugo Chavez-style nationalization in 1960s-70s). @Realist is right on etymology about “Third World” and Alfred Sauvy.

    4. Jingoism and nationalism is not in the cultural DNA of India, even though there is a segment in Indian spectrum of opinions that talks that way. As some commentators here note, India and other Asian nations are not new cultures – they are 1000s of years old. India’s diversity is a result of numerous waves of immigration and cultural exchange from northwest, northeast and maritime. You find numerous Hindu temples, and Buddhist temples, as far as Cambodia, Vietnam, Bali Indonesia. Even in Japan, Benzaiten mimics a Hindu goddess and Sanjusangen-do temple in Kyoto is full of Hindu goddesses. India has been an open, assimilating culture. Its people are the result of one of the world’s largest ancient melting pot of ideas, culture, skills and people.

    5. The other aspect of Indian culture, at least the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain way of life, is their core values. Ahimsa (non-violence) is among their highest virtues. Suffer blows, with protest but without violent retaliation, is their preferred way of resolving conflict, with exceptions. Within Hinduism, there is no binding holy book; you find polytheists, monists, atheists, yoga people, Hare Krishna-type people and other diverse lifestyles. India and its religions have a historic record of diversity, critical debate, secular acceptance of those who disagree, and synthesis. In that context, the acceptance and cultural fusion with the West is just continuation of India’s history.
  2. Report ShenzhenJJ | May 23 1:26pm | Permalink
    The word on the street in Beijing echoes the "useful idiot" caricature. This deal has been on the table for a decade, and putin came to shanghai with "hat in hand". Good for China. Desperate (the discount variety) for Russia.
  3. Report HardTruth | May 23 12:48pm | Permalink
    India with Mr. Modi as the Prime Minister wants to live in peace with honour. Of course, it will not tolerate
    Islamic terrorism from its epic centre of Pakistan or will not let China violate Indian land. If China
    acts foolishly, India will get closer to democratic powers in Asia-Pacific including the USA, Japan, Australia, South Korea, as well as Vietnam and Philippines.

    The pro-Pakistan ( under influence of Saudi interests and prospective defence related business ) policies of the USA/UK/Europe and unjustified personal attacks on Mr.Modi by the Western governments and media will be responsible for India's preference for having closer relations with Asian countries, Australia, South Africa, Brazil etc and as an exception the USA, only super power, with Asia-Pacific power projection. I expect Mr. Modi to visit Japan first on a bilateral visit.

    Indian GDP growth rate will be higher than China's GDP growth rate by the end of 2017, unless China
    cooks the books, as it has often done, or there is a significant geopolitical event the affects India very
    directly, not such as Russia in Ukraine dispute.

    Now the UK needs India more than other way around. In the British national interests, the government and Media should review their ideas and policies, as they are far behind the realities of the global geopolitics. Or
    we may not benefit from the Indian economy moving fast towards high growth rate.

    Militant Sunni Islam, directed by the Saudi Wahabi fundamentalism as well as money from the Gulf and practiced by Sunni Pakistan and other countries, is the real and present danger to all democracies. Geopolitical problems in Asia, Eastern Europe or the Mid-East are relatively less important.
  4. Report Will-Monitor | May 23 12:48pm | Permalink
    The fascinating comments on PS' piece seem to me to underline the incredible complexity of trying to make sense of this important part our world - I thought Phillip made a decent, if not perfect, try at this.

    As a half Scot in England, I have never been happy with the way patriotism has been used by nationalist populists (demagogues?)

    I am in Cambodia at present, and would comment, that Eastern (Buddhists?) in Vietnam, have been attacking local Chinese - mostly from Taiwan! - for the mainlands "crime" of the oil rigs placement.

    Anybody is capable of being whipped up by simplistic remedies for difficult problems: pace the Euro elections.
  5. Report LostForWords | May 23 12:30pm | Permalink
    Putin as Xi's "useful idiot"? Even by the fanciful extremes of this article this is grossly inaccurate. If negotiating multi-billion dollar gas deals is being idiotic, then any leader would be proud of the name. Nor is Putin's challenge to US economic and geo-political hegemony foolish. There are enough poodles of America around (note the Kiev fascists, and glove-puppet William Hague). The once-venerable FT is allowing those that want to punish Putin for stymying the Israel and Saudi-inspired programme of regime-change (the complete set of "Arab Spring" candidates was supposed to include Syria), and for siding with Shia rather than Sunni interests, which especially upsets an Israel exposed to Hisbollah.

    The post-Cold War dominance of the USA is ending, and we are seeing a re-balancing of global influence. Naturally, America is concerned about this, but its unholy alliance with Israel and Saudi-Arabia is a pernicious association in world affairs. The US should be prohibiting the export of Saudi's vicious Wahhabist creed, not facilitating it in exchange for a few arms contracts for Capitol Hill's corporate paymasters. After all, the extremists S A breeds are deadly enemies of the West. Who are the "useful idiots" in that relationship?

    For us there is much more to be concerned about in the rise of Sunni Islamic extremism than in the policies of the four horsemen cited in this article, and, regrettably, I trust Vladimir Putin much more than I trust our own leaders, or the FT's leader writers.
  6. Report erikawonka | May 23 11:28am | Permalink
    "China’s strategy looks pretty clear – to push the US out of the western Pacific and claim tribute from its neighbours."

    Not at all clear that China wants to "claim tribute from its neighbours". Just an emotive turn of phrase employed to give the impression that the situation is more perilous than it really is. Another fabrication in my opinion.
  7. Report erikawonka | May 23 11:09am | Permalink
    "Barack Obama’s US administration, bound to Japan in the region’s pivotal security alliance, finds itself trying to deter Beijing while restraining Tokyo."

    Again we get this assertion from Philip Stephens that Japan is in some way angling for a confrontation (presumably with Beijing) and is in need of restraint. It's a complete fabrication.
  8. Report Realist | May 23 10:38am | Permalink
    @ BRDENIZEN | May 23 9:47am |

    Excellent advice if I may say so. Mr Stephens would do well to heed it!
  9. Report Realist | May 23 10:35am | Permalink
    1. @ Hi there | May 23 7:17am |

    Thank you for the views regarding India.

    (A minor point: India, along with Egypt, Indonesia and Yugoslavia, initiated the "non-aligned" movement and I think that might be what you were referring to. As regards the term Third World (Tier Monde in 1952) I suspect it is owed to Alfred Sauvy, a Frenchman, and it is said he had the French Revolution's Third Estate in mind.)

    2. @ Bayesian Risk | May 23 6:58am | Thank you for the feedback
  10. Report BRDENIZEN | May 23 9:47am | Permalink
    It is difficult or rather impossible to excite local populace in the each country Philip describes to the grand concept of international brotherhood headed by grand marshal- the US. The fear Philip describes is misplaced. Eastern socities have a deep philosophical concept of life. They have sustained for thousands of years on simple diet of peace & rice though conflicts have also been part and parcel of life.It is not built on hot tempers of western societies - that at the drop of hat - run to the gun cupboards. Take it easy Philip- it will be all be ok.
  11. Report George Horsington | May 23 8:33am | Permalink
    There's also a lot of nationalism in the second rank of Asian nations - look at recent Indonesian efforts to restrict foreign ownership and squeeze foreign businesses out of certain sectors. Look at North Korea - where nationalism and xenophobia are state policy. Then there is Myanmar where a reaction to Chinese domination is just beginning and Buddhist militancy against the Rohingya is rising. Consider Vietnam where the government is also caught in a dilemma. As China grows more assertive, her neighbours will become more nationalistic in response to the perceived threat.
  12. Report Age Olav Mariussen | May 23 8:31am | Permalink
    @Harald Buchmann. The problem with the human right principle is that it is left to states, and states can use it in the way you describe, as an excuse to destroy other states. Korin Karatani has a good discussion in The Structure of World History in favour of the World Republic. He points out that after the two disasters of the 20th century, WW1 and WW2, attempts were made to create a global institution, after WW1 the Leage of Nations, and after WW2 the UN. These attempts later failed, and nationalism triumphs. Never the less, the immediate impact of these disasters was a willingness to accept global institutions to prevent future dysfunctional impacts of the Westphalian institution. His argument is that after the next disaster of the 21th century, let us call it WW3 or "the west vs the rest" or something like that, all nation states should give their independence to UN. The UN should then declare the World Republic, set up to protect the interests not of a single state or nation, but of humanity.
  13. Report Harald Buchmann | May 23 7:51am | Permalink
    Excellent commenting section, here. Would be worthwhile to put "hi there"s comment in the print version tomorrow. Actually he or she could add one more on the list of Western "building blocks of the world order": the current understanding of human rights.
    Used conveniently to justify wars in which millions of civilians have died in the last decade. Embraced by traditionally pacifist and anti-imperialist left-wing groups, the human rights have become a powerful tool of the US/CIA/Information Department (or however you call the US propaganda complex), who easily set up all kinds of "NGO" which send out press communiques justifying arms deliveries to Syrian extremists, military interventions in north Africa, drone strikes in central Asia, etc. "Freedom" and "Human Rights" have replaced "democracy" as reason to topple government. They are more convenient concepts, as they also allow for collaboration with most repressive organizations (e.g. Egyptian military against elected government, Ukraine Right Sector against elected government), because they are much more vague than democracy.
  14. Report Harald Buchmann | May 23 7:36am | Permalink
    I find this a quite interesting overview of Asia. The point where I - as usual - disagree, is the idealization of the West, though only implied in this piece. The "multilateralist assumptions of the postwar order" is a very inner-European view, unsuited for an article about Asian powers. Most of Asia has been devastated by proxy wars between the Soviet Union and the US, most of the post-soviet world order has maximized the profits and resources-access for the US, which have always been ultra nationalist. The EU has failed to become a country, so far, and the European nations have mostly followed the US blindly, though more and more citizens are unhappy with this fact.
    Unlike the great nationalists in Europe 1900, the Asians have no doctrine of expansion and colonialism. Remember, countries like the UK at that time still felt legally entitled to subdue "minor" tribes in colonies, in order to protect its access to resources. China never makes such claims, it has a very clear area of the sea, which it claims, but no inhabited territories of other peoples. Neither do Japan or Russia have a philosophy which includes expansion into other's territories. India is to occupied keeping its nations united, so expansion is off the book as well. Therefore I'm much less worried about Asian nationalism than about US and growing European nationalism.
  15. Report Hi there | May 23 7:17am | Permalink
    @ Realist

    Believe it or not, I actually make an effort to refrain from commenting on what I understand little of, and India was one of those.

    But if I am to hazard a view, I understand India to be very complex country. They are very capitalistic, but their poverty problem creates socialistic tendency in public policy, and some sympathy with the "voiceless masses." Their historical memory of colonization was not as traumatic as that of China which creates far less friction with the Western value system. Pakistan's relative standing with Washington also affects their stance, and Pakistan has fallen out with DC as far as it can go, so they may seem more Western at the moment. However, they have a history of being very flexible in a polarized world, as proven during the cold war. I think they created the term "Third World" if I recall correctly. If we ever get into a "west vs rest" standoff, I expect them to behave with extreme pragmatism and flexibility.
  16. Report Age Olav Mariussen | May 23 7:16am | Permalink
    @Hi there What you refer to as "the whole Westphalian institution" or the nation state is an increasingly problematic concept, I agree, but surely there are other alternatives than the French Revolution, followed by the Terror and Napoleon?
  17. Report Bayesian Risk | May 23 6:58am | Permalink
    @Realist

    "The "assertiveness" being displayed by China is not just because Mr Xi has arrived. It has been in the making for some years building up gradually. "

    Good observations, and I agree in particular with this point ... though Mr Xi is markedly more assertive than the previous leaders, both on internal and external issues.
  18. Report Rasik | May 23 6:45am | Permalink
    Russia is more Europe than ASIA.(Vladimir Putin, the fourth of Asia’s nationalist horsemen)-

    Colonialism has been the Trait of Europe and Expansionism and Imperialism can be attributed only to Japan not to India or China-

    POST WORLD WAR 2 i,e 50 's onwards Japan has reconciled that Market economics is the only Way Forward and in the 90's China and India -
    FOOD /SHELTER AND CLOTHING along with Roads /Power are the Priorities
  19. Report Realist | May 23 6:25am | Permalink
    @ Hi there | May 23 5:30am |

    Would appreciate your views on how India enters the scheme of things as set out in your post? Many thanks.
  20. Report senior muppet | May 23 5:43am | Permalink
    Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.
  21. Report Hi there | May 23 5:30am | Permalink
    Mr. Stephens, fine article, but perhaps the your portrayal of the situation is marginalizing the nature of the tension, making it appear less significant than it is.

    The tone of the article is that the four countries in question are all afflicted by a temporary sickness called nationalism, and they need to come to their senses for the good of regional stability. In this context, US is an indirect contributor, and EU is entirely a third party.

    But China and Russia has bigger plans in mind. Their goal is to unravel what can be called the post war (both WWII and Cold) order and restructure the world that they see is inherently biased against them. Their position is not entirely without merit. The building blocks of the world order today, Treaty of San Francisco, Breton Woods, World Bank and IMF, WTO, G7/8, whole body of international law and the whole Westphalian institution has Western/Euro-American roots, and China/Russia feel disadvantaged.

    Japan has it's own grievances with the WWII order, mainly it's territorial issues with Russia and Korea, and it's continued non inclusion in the UN Security Council. But it has had less emotional issues partially because it came into the post war world as a loser of the last conflict, but mainly because the western world order worked for them economically. They will choose to side with the existing order.

    Then there are the invisible masses, who never even made it to the finges of the global ruling elite who has no means of voicing their objection beyond terrorism. The Chinese and Russian position give these people a voice.

    In this context, EU and UK is certainly not a third party. WWI analogy is overdone these days, but I see some paralells with the French revolution in the situation. I guess those aristocrats never saw it coming until the day they stood in front of the Guillotine. My advice to the "West" is to treat this with a little more sense of urgency. Window of opportunity to deal with the historical baggage through dialogue will eventually close. When that day comes, Japan will be the first to go, but you all will not be too far behind.
  22. Report Emkay | May 23 4:25am | Permalink
    Plenty of hotspots and potential for instability. The South China Sea is just the tip of the iceberg. Just imagine what would happen if a conversation on the Amur Annexation ever re-opened.
  23. Report aeolius | May 23 3:50am | Permalink
    I am glad that FT does see Putin as the loser. Perhaps swallowing the Crimea has given him heartburn. He has backed off from support of the lumpenprolatariat who seized power in the Donbas.Obama did not have to be too good a chess player to play Kings pawn denied.
    And to get some counterweight to the real possibility of gradual loss of his European gas market,he was forced after 10 years of inaction to accept Chinese terms on gas price and sharing of upstream ownership.
  24. Report Realist | May 23 3:39am | Permalink
    1. Mr Stephens's piece reflects a deeply nuanced and strange understanding of Asia.

    2. Korea's needs China for its economy and US for dealing with Japan. The first country the present Korean visited on assumption of office was China.

    3. India's has long standing material relations with Russia, and its economic relations have built up fast with China. Its relations with Japan have always been most cordial for the strangest of reasons, but Japan, which considers itself as an "advanced" western democracy (and honorary "whites"- "honorary Aryans" in Hitler's Germany, and "white" in Apartheid South Africa) has always treated India as no more than another developing country (to be treated nicely because it produced a judge who took a Japanese view at the Tokyo war crimes trials). Japan has not delivered what India has sought. And on his last visit to India Mr Abe (mis)quoted the Mogul prince Dara Shikoh, which would be a huge faux pas in presence of Mr Modi

    4. Interesting to see that unlike Mr Yeltsin's bottle-hitting days, Russia has lost its G8 "status", and now Mr Stephens has thrown it out of Europe altogether (but Ukraine is all European). All that has really changed is that Mr Putin is building up Russia geopolitically vis a vis the "west", aka US and camp followers.

    5. The "assertiveness" being displayed by China is not just because Mr Xi has arrived. It has been in the making for some years building up gradually. Expect more, not because Chinese are nasty, but because China feels that the US is no more exceptional than the next country.
  25. Report Old School Canuck | May 23 2:28am | Permalink
    Mr. Stephens, your general thesis about competing nationalisms is interesting and I agree that "national feelings" are a factor in all these countries. I don't think, however, that it is the ONLY factor, nor is it even the primary determinant of policy in every case.

    What about national interest? (which is arguably defined in less emotional terms and determined by calculations about the need to protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity)

    In each country one can likely find policy makers who sincerely believe they are driven not by raw nationalism or prejudice, but rather by dispassionate assessments of national interest. Perhaps I'm being too naive... and maybe the clash of nationally sensible interests among the four is just as dangerous as the clash of rampant nationalisms.

    I'm also not entirely sure about your assertion (which others share) that China has completely abandoned the Dengist approach to foreign policy (although I could see how many in Japan, the Philippines and now Vietnam would disagree with me on this one).
  26. Report hgandhi | May 23 2:24am | Permalink
    Dear Philip,

    I have been a great fan of your writings over years. But with this comment, I am hugely disappointed. You wonder about the four 'horsemen' having read history - I wonder what do you know about India and its history?
    Narendra Modi is set to be the best PM India has had since independence. He is a progressive leader who carries his team with him and has performance to back him. By alluding to potential of blood on the street, you are being extremely biased and may be even racist. Do you justify killing people in Iraq on false claims of WMD patriotism? Do you justify the British imperialist rule and loss of countless lives as patriotism? You headline Modi and then digress to Mr Putin?
    Hope you care to respond to my views. I have given my email below
    Hetal Gandhi
    hetalg2005@gmail.com
    A proud Indian
  27. Report rick hamilton | May 23 1:29am | Permalink
    There is more than 'much to be said' for patriotism.

    'Support the home team' is a natural instinct for human beings whether family, football team, tribe or country of birth. Only socialists would claim otherwise and look at the mess they make of every economy they touch. Massive debt, stagnation, fudging and avoidance of responsibility by the culprits.

    The British have spent decades rubbishing their own history and apologising for their national achievements thanks to lefty ideologues obsessed with political correctness. There is no future in self-flagellation. The EU project to destroy nation states will fail in the end. The Schulz doctrine of ever more socialism will be rejected.

    The winners in the 21st century will be those who take pride in their own country and culture and who engage with the world in a spirit of strong, open-minded economic competition.
  28. Report Neroburningrome | May 23 12:44am | Permalink
    Seriously? Patriotism and nationalism are the same, just the former is a more euphemistic term for it. How can the FT not spot the similarity?
  29. Report Aussie Red | May 23 12:06am | Permalink
    Excellent column. This one and the one earlier in the week from David Pilling tells us more about where Asia is at the moment than the millions of words written in recent months.

    Nationalism is also to be found in the bloodied pages of Asian history from 1931 to 1945, (And then in the last 40's and early 50's in Korea, not to mention Vietnam in the 60's ) specifically in the annals of Manchuria, China, Burma, Indo China, Taiwan, Korea, northern Australia, Indonesia, parts of Eastern India, the Philippines and more, not to mention the US and Pearl Harbour and all those Pacific atolls and Papua New Guinea - and don't forget Japan itself.

    Japanese nationalists were responsible for those bloodied pages and the country's conservatives still refuse to accept and acknowledge that blame, as we continue to read and hear from the current Abe Government.

    Japan coud change this raising nationalism very quickly by following Germany down the path of acknowledging and accepting the responsibility for what happened from 1931 onwards and treating china, Taiwan and South Korea as grown up, mature countries, not former colonies to be brutally exploited.

    And India? Left right out, badly placed geographically and geopolitically. It's role as a leader of the old non-aligned movement in the past (as was Yugo who?) was always a bit of a fraud built on manipulating British (and American) guilt. The white man's burden. Will Mr Modi lift all of India, and the sub continent (because like or not he is the leader of the region, a role Mr Sing seemed to decline to play) or just Gujarat and the rest of the BJP? If its the latter, then India's slide back into pack of also rans will continue.
  30. Report Apostle | May 22 11:47pm | Permalink
    Mr Stephens writes, "As for nationalism, the answer is found in the bloodied pages of European history."

    1. Is it, really? What is this British bad mouthing of EU and anti-immigrant talk, if not nationalism? What is Southern European hate speeches against Germany and EU, if not nationalism? The Scotland vote, and arguments against it? Across the pond, we wrestle with the question, "is bombing Syria or going to war yet again in our national interest"? And no, Mr Stephens, all that is not patriotism.

    2. Nationalism can be of two types – love for your people, or hate against your neighbors. The former can be good, the latter is almost always not good. The hate driven nationalism did not end in Europe because of World Wars, but because colonialism finally came to an end and Europe focused on development, infrastructure and empowering Europeans. Same must and will happen in Asia.

    3. Japan and India are natural partners, culturally and strategically. Mr Abe and Mr Modi have much in common. Mr Modi speaks of “peace through strength”, so does Mr Abe. The weak gets trampled, then stereotyped and blamed. The strong gets invited to the table, then wined and romanced.

    4. Some nations in the west, in particular UK and USA, have been abusive in its diplomacy, condescending with its Orientalism, and have made a mockery of their own proclaimed noble ideas on human rights and due process (the denial of visa to Mr Nelson Mandela and Mr Narendra Modi are classic examples). As Martin Luther King Jr reminded us, the check has bounced, and unjust humiliation and political manipulation of certain people cannot go on forever.

    5. The rise of the East can be seen with dismay and pessimism, but it does not have to be. As prosperity rises and trade increases, history tells us peace breaks out. Sooner or later. The challenge before our diplomats is to accept their mistakes, engage the East, then further the cause of mutual prosperity, cultural exchange, and bringing people together. Increase love, peace will follow.
  31. Report JP | May 22 11:35pm | Permalink
    How far can you push the parallels with the pre-WW I Europe and all those Alliances and Ententes? On whose side will the US in its newfound "splendid isolation" fall?

    Pray, tell, Mr Stephens.
  32. Report MrXY | May 22 10:33pm | Permalink
    It is perhaps a good idea to invite these leaders to an upcoming World War I ceremony at one of the immense soldiers cemeteries, so they can see with their own eyes what the consequence of selfish nationalism can be.
  33. Report Bayesian Risk | May 22 10:30pm | Permalink
    Good, thoughtful article.

    Not sure I agree with the final sentence, though.

    As many of my fellow 'commentees' have pointed out over the last few months, Mr Putin's mastery of history is second-to-none (and I for one have no reason to doubt them). Indeed should he ever weary of the daily toil of evil-empire building, he will be able to return to the comfy world of academia from whence he came.

    (or I am confusing him somebody else?)
  34. Report EinarBB | May 22 10:25pm | Permalink
    Very good point, nationalist governments now in all of these countries simultaneously, sounds like a recipe for trouble, more power to the arms race.
  35. Report JP Stanley | May 22 10:20pm | Permalink
    It is interesting that the article has nothing to say about Russo-Indian relations which have been remarkably warm historically as they are now. This becomes even more interesting since Russia is a major weapons exporter to India.
  36. Report thornton | May 22 9:27pm | Permalink
    A worthwhile contribution...
  37. Report Alpha1 | May 22 8:38pm | Permalink
    "Mr Putin’s role, then, is that of the useful idiot." wonder how this made through editing. The next in line to the British throne calling him Hitler and now this from the FT. Quite a broad spectrum I should say.

    Everything else made a very interesting read. If Modi really consolidates Japanese-Indian ties, he would have done a lot. Not difficult to accomplish, given strong shared interests. India Japan make natural allies. Wonder why this hasnt happened already.
  38. Report newslover | May 22 7:58pm | Permalink
    This sort of "coincidence" is called parallel replication. There is another kind of "non coincidence" phenomena which is called serial replication like what has been going on for decades now in the US since the Watergate era. Each and every American presidents hence on were all inveterate liars.
  39. Report ricgf | May 22 7:40pm | Permalink
    So who is "west" again, Mr Stephens? Isn't it time to STOP using this anachronistic anglo-saxon definition of "west" as comprising only US+EU+NZ+AU? Because whoever is not "western" must be "eastern" - something I can assure you any country for instance in the Western Hemisphere is NOT.





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