Communication Culture & Technology
In the book Chaos and Governance in the Modern World System, Arrighi and J. Silver analyze economical, geographical, political, technological and cultural factors of the three shifts of hegemony. They think that our world now is in another hegemonic crisis, which may lead to a huge change in the power structures (Arrighi & Silver, 1999). I agree with their opinion and think that our world is in a phase of transition. It is a transition driven by the network of economy, technology, culture and politics. The original drive, however, is the competition for resources, because resources are necessary for life. We have already found small clues of this transition. When these small transitions accumulate with time, a big change of our world will happen.
The Diaoyu Island (Senkaku Island) issue is a small clue of our world transition. This exterior conflict is leaded by the potential game of Japan, China and the United States. With a decrease of the Japanese economy in recent years, Japan is trying to recover with a reindustrialization process. This process needs plenty of resources as support. Making conflicts with China not only can restrain the rapid growth of China, but also can get developing opportunities for themselves. In the past 30 years, the concentration of China has been to continue to develop its economy. A peaceful external environment is very important to China. China wants to shelve differences to keep a good developing environment for themselves. Japan had decided to seek a joint development with China and shelve the conflicts after World War II. However, the precondition was that the Japanese economy was allowed to have ability to be active in this issue. United States has left Asia-Pacific for a while after 9/11, since they have shifted their focus to the Middle East. After reaching a control in the Middle East, the United States is seeking a chance to go back to the Asia-Pacific area. As the Leon Panetta said on the Shangri-La Dialogue in 2012, Asia-Pacific is a “top priority” to the security and prosperity of U.S. (BBC News, 2012). Any kind of conflict could be a good reason for them to come back. As an island that is listed in the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security Between the United States and Japan, Senkaku Island (Diaoyu Island) has a significant meaning to America.
However, the foreign affairs of a country are always decided by the internal situation of the country. Behind the external conflict among China, Japan, and the United States, there were conflicts existing in each society. In China, with the increasing difference between rich and poor, social conflicts are rising. Because of the corruptions of the government, Chinese people are lacking trust to the government. If the Chinese government cannot control the situation of Dianyu Island (Senkaku Island), a deep social conflict in China will be inspired. With the decreasing of Japanese economy, the political situation has not been stable in recent years. A trusty test shows that the supportive rate for both parties in Japan is less than 20%, which means government in Japan also lost the trust of their people (Hirai, 2004). They really need something to encourage nationalism in the country. Solving a conflict between Japan and China will be a strategy to reach their goal. In the United States, although the country is on the way of economic recovering, the unemployment rate is still high. It needs to continue to shift the conflicts from internal to external.
As Arrighi and J. Silver discussed, the result of transition will depend on the how the crisis is handled by the declining hegemony (Arrighi & Silver, p.272, 1999). I think the result of the present Diaoyu Island (Senkaku Island) conflict will be affected by the present hegemony, the United States. If the United States thinks they can control the conflict between China and Japan, they will do nothing and let it continue, because they can find an excuse to go back to the Asia-Pacific area. However, if the situation is out of control of the U.S., they will use their power to push the Japanese government to stop their actions, which means they can also find an excuse to go back to the Asia-Pacific area. Therefore, the benefiter is the United States and the final solution of the recent Diaoyu Island (Senkaku Island) conflict will depend on the economic and political game among Japan, China and the U.S.
Small conflicts like Diaoyu Island conflict are happening everywhere all around the world. These conflicts could be among countries or within one country. They are the evidence of the phase of transition of our world. One answer could be the U.S. makes an adjustment well and continues their hegemonic time. Another answer could be the world will become a multi-polarized world if all kinds of power can reach a balance.