China as Nazi Germany?

14 Feb

It emerged last week that the Philippine leader, Benigno Aquino, likens modern day China to Nazi Germany, as he reflects on the current territorial disputes between the Philippines and China, and the West’s inability to intervene. Both nations are currently engaged in a clash over the sovereignty of a series of islands and waters, which are located in the area known in the Philippines as West Philippine Sea, but in Beijing as the South China Sea.

In the view of president Benigno Aquino, the Philippines stands in a similar position with China to what Czechoslovakia faced with Nazi Germany pre World War II. This historical context comprises of a situation where, in 1938, Sudetenland (part of Czechoslovakia) was given to Hitler’s Nazi Germany under the agreement with Neville Chamberlain (prime minister of Britain) that Germany would then not invade the rest of Czechoslovakia. Despite this, in March 1939, Nazi Germany invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia. It is a widespread view by many that this was one of the key contributing factors to World War II.

Benigno Aquino argues that if the West, on behalf of the Philippines and other states which are currently engaged in territorial disagreements with China (such as Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan), does not intervene now and tell China that “enough is enough”, then the disputes are only likely to escalate. He warns that the appeasement of China could be disastrous, as was the case with Nazi Germany in the lead up to World War II; the appeasement was, in fact, meant to prevent the war.

The concerns of Benigno Aquino reflect the growing uneasiness in south and south east Asia over China’s increasing military presence and claims for sovereignty of territories. This comes following the announcement that China will spend approximately £90 billion on its armed forces this year, and that by 2015, China’s military expenditure will be higher than that of Britain, France and Germany combined (Farmer and Sanchez, 2014). As this increasingly military expenditure is evident across Asia and the Middle East, and not just in China, it highlights the growing shift of power from the West to the East, which as Jacques (2009) claims, is part of a historical change which is destined to transform the world.  

Therefore, Benigno Aquino’s concerns seem entirely justified, particularly as he claimed China “may have the might, but that does not necessarily make you right.” It is important to note, however, that he was not offering a direct comparison with Hitler, as this would have inevitably sparked enormous tensions with Beijing.

References:

Jacques, M. 2009, When China Rules the World, Penguin Books, London.

Farmer, B. and Sanchez, R. 2014, China and Russia help global defence spending rise for the first time in five years. Available [Online] at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/10615466/China-and-Russia-help-global-defence-spending-rise-for-first-time-in-five-years.html [accessed 13/02/2014].

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