Chinese FM hits back at Abe over WWI analogy

Last Updated: Saturday, January 25, 2014 - 09:21

Davos: China has hit back at Japan`s Prime Minister over a claim that current tensions in East Asia are akin to those between Britain and Germany on the eve of World War I.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos today, China`s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said he believed the analogy employed by Japanese premier Shinzo Abe was misplaced.

In the latest salvo in a simmering diplomatic spat, Wang also reiterated China`s anger over Abe`s recent visit to a shrine which honours the memory of 14 convicted war criminals along with millions of other Japanese war dead.
"It strikes me that his statement is a bit anachronistic because the current era is a world apart from the situation of 100 years ago," Wang told the annual gathering of business and political leaders.

"The forces for peace in the world, and they include China, are growing."
Abe`s comparison of the current situation in East Asia with early 20th-century Europe was designed to make the point that Britain and Germany`s developed economic relationship did not prevent them taking up arms, implying that something similar could happen between China and Japan in the modern era despite billions of dollars worth of trade and investment ties.

The Japanese leader`s comments, made to journalists here yesterday, were part of Tokyo`s campaign to alert the world to what it sees as China`s growing military assertiveness, which it views as an increasing threat to its own security at a time when US willingness to underwrite it is in increasing doubt.
Wang said a more relevant history lesson would involve recalling Japan`s record of military aggression against China and other Asian states.

"Reviewing these episodes of history would clearly show who was the instigator of war and the troublemaker," the foreign minister said.

Wang said Beijing regarded Abe`s December visit to the shrine as the biggest problem in the bilateral relationship, describing it as a memorial that glorifies militarism, justifies past aggressions and honours the 14 military and public officials who were either executed or died in prison after being convicted as Class A war criminals at the end of World War II.

"When a Japanese leader lays a wreath at such a shrine, he crosses a line -- he is breaching the conscience of humanity and international justice.

He is contesting the outcome of the second world war and the international order that emerged from it.

First Published: Saturday, January 25, 2014 - 09:21

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