Why the CCP is Losing Its Political Warfare Against Japan

For the past two months the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has instituted a political warfare campaign condemning the government of Japan for permitting the release of water stored at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant back into the Pacific Ocean. Unsurprisingly, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) campaign is backfiring, further highlighting the failure of the Beijing Consensus of global governance. The CCP had hoped to scare the Chinese and Japanese publics into not eating Japanese sourced fish and to garner support globally for similar concerns to hurt Japan’s industry and reputation. More subtlety, it was to influence the perception of Japan as not capable of handling nuclear power safely due the Beijing’s fear that one day Japan will possess nuclear weapons targeted at the PRC.

The CCP’s political warfare campaign has failed because of the unintended consequence of having the Chinese people question the safety of eating PRC sourced fish due to the high levels of dangerous contaminants found in the waters around China. The centralized, and top-down, dictates from the CCP failed to anticipate the common sense of the Chinese consumer who recognized that fish from Chinese waters were likely more dangerous than even the risks to the local communities due to Fukushima’s water release. Indeed, as the CCP made this an issue, the amount of attention to this topic brought about comparisons between the Japanese release and the billions of tons of pollutants the PRC releases into the global commons year after year, damaging the health of people the world over.

What the political warfare attack on Japan reveals is that the PRC has a deep and irrational hatred of Japan. The legacy of World War II is alive, to be sure, but it is the CCP’s Communist ideology that drives belligerence against Japan because of Tokyo’s success in rebuilding its society after it was destroyed in the war. Japan became a world-leading economy and democracy while the PRC followed the inevitable backward course of every Communist state as the CCP waged war against its own people. The PRC killed tens of millions of its own citizens, supported the Khmer Rouge while it committed its genocide against the Cambodian people, and saved the Communist states of North Korea and North Vietnam through their interventions in the Korean and Vietnam wars. Japan, like South Korea and Taiwan, shows what China might have been had the CCP not won the civil war. It also shows how the region would be far better off if the CCP had never come to power.

Second, the CCP’s top-down political warfare against Japan demonstrates that the CCP’s attempt to ban Japanese fish products reflects the CCP’s own failures and the lack of legitimacy of the CCP regime. Any investigation of contamination in other countries will inevitably invite an examination of the PRC’s long-lived contamination of the air, land, and water that has damaged the health of the Chinese people and all those who consume the PRC’s products, as well as the flora and fauna of the region. The wasteland the CCP created in the natural environments will take centuries to repair. Once again, Japan’s transparent actions after Fukushima stand the world in good stead. The global public is able to examine what the Japanese government did its aftermath and thus have confidence that the risk is infinitesimal.  The CCP’s response on every matter, from its deception and dissembling regarding the origin and spread of Covid-19, to trade and investments, banking, or to its rapid military expansion, and its global ambitions, is opaque and defined by concealment and lies.

Thus, unintentionally the CCP has drawn a stark contrast between Japan’s actions and their own. Which, by definition, occurs whenever the PRC launches a political warfare attack on another country. Unless the comparison is with the most odious of state behavior and the dregs of international society, the CCP is always found wanting. It would be useful for the Biden administration to recall this when Biden officials themselves make claims regarding U.S. history, as well as when PRC officials launch attacks on the behavior of the U.S. and its allies.

The experience of Japan is representative of the world the U.S. and its allies, including Japan, created. Environmental destruction is in fact and in metaphor the perfect illustration of the world the CCP has created and seeks to export. The Beijing Consensus is a failed governance model, and western leaders from all nations, especially America, would do well to make this point at every opportunity on the global stage, the next being the G20 summit in India.

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About James E. Fanell and Bradley A. Thayer

James Fanell is a government fellow at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, a retired captain in the U.S. Navy and a former director of intelligence and information operations for the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Bradley A. Thayer is a Founding Member of the Committee on Present Danger China and the coauthor with Lianchao Han of Understanding the China Threat.

Photo: BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 25: National flags of China and Japan fly in Tian'anmen Square to welcome Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on October 25, 2018 in Beijing, China. At the invitation of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will pay an official visit to China from October 25th to 27th. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

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