The Coming Alliance
East Asia is bursting with growth! Consider these facts:
• In 1998, India and Pakistan demonstrated nuclear capability.
• Last year, trans-Pacific air travel surpassed that of the Atlantic.
• Beijing recently launched its first orbiting space vehicle, with aims to be the third nation in history to successfully launch a manned space vehicle.
• Asia’s powerfully emerging middle class has forced military-led regimes out and democracy in: such was the case in the Philippines in 1986, South Korea and Taiwan in 1988, Thailand in 1990 and Indonesia in 1999. (It has not done so in China, although China has brought more than 200 million people out of absolute poverty.)
• South Korea’s economic boom pushed its $100 per capita gdp in 1960 to over $10,000 before the 1997 Asian financial meltdown.
Commentator Robert A. Manning, in the Washington Times, summed up the phenomenon:”Much of East Asia has accomplished in little more than a generation economic development that took 180 years in the West” (Dec. 29, 1999).
Many saw the Asian economic crisis of 1997, which began in Thailand that July, as a major threat to the West’s economy—not to mention the East. But the West actually became seemingly stronger economically, and, paradoxically, the crisis played a significant role in bringing Asian countries closer to unification than ever. Why?Because the nations of East Asia saw how interdependent their economies were.
East Asians began thinking anew: Japan proposed an Asian Monetary Fund; Joseph Yam, head of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority—inspired by the euro—proposed his vision for an East Asian common currency.
Then consider the Association of South East Asian Nations (asean) summit in Malaysia in 1997, Vietnam in 1998 and the Philippines last year. Asean consists of ten nations—Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (China, Japan and South Korea have attended the Malaysia summit as well—known as the asean Plus Three meeting.) “No Anglo-Saxons invited,” said Manning.
Through asean, “much of Asia is attempting an unprecedented level of regional coordination” (Stratfor Global Intelligence Update, Nov. 30, 1999). The purpose of the organization, according to Philippine President Joseph Estrada, “is to rival the European Union as a trading bloc” (ibid., Nov. 29, 1999).
Recent trade agreements between Japan and South Korea, and Japan and Singapore, among others, serve “as stepping stones leading eventually to the goal of an East Asia Free Trade Area which would complement the single market of the European Union, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum,”said executive director of the Asia-Europe Foundation in Singapore, Tommy Koh. The goal of the Manila summit was to eliminate tariffs among the six founding nations of asean by 2010, and eliminate the same from the other four by the year 2018.
Stratfor also reported, “In the wake of the Manila meetings, China has also made a significant gesture toward the region. At the summit, the Chinese delegation refused to sign a code of conduct that would have halted any new occupations of the contested Spratly Islands. But shortly afterward, Beijing made a surprise announcement on November 29 saying that it would agree to joint development of the islands. Beijing has not laid aside its claim of sovereignty, but the Chinese are attempting to drive regional cooperation forward, even in the face of an important security dispute.”
Although regional security issues were avoided at asean’s parallel summit of the Plus Three nations, other members of asean are seeing the need for Asia to develop its own united military. “Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has called for a pan-Asian security force” (ibid.,Dec. 3, 1999; emphasis mine here and throughout). Although Asia, Stratfor says, is unready at present for such an alliance, “it realizes the need for a regional approach to security”(ibid.). Again, this is following Europe’s example: To be able to support economic unity, the next logical step is military unity!
Yet, what keeps East Asia from acting as a concerted bloc is the lack of a catalyst—a compelling reason to unite. “Blocs form in reaction to threats,” stated Stratfor.Two possible catalysts, according to the report, are a currency crisis or a possible eruption in the Indonesian province of Aceh similar to the violence in East Timor late last year.
The West ignores all these points. Manning reported, in his Washington Times commentary, “Yet this emergence of the world’s first successful non-Western civilizations tends to be either taken for granted or ignored in a United States that even after the cold war remains remarkably Eurocentric…. Asia still appears strategically discounted by the United States and Europe…. Clearly, we ignore Asia only at our peril.”
Let us not ignore these nations. Let us, instead, take a brief look at a few of them, showing the significance of certain events in Asia—predicted years ago by the Plain Truth magazine—and where these events are headed, as the dangerous world of the 21st century moves ever closer to global conflict.
Rise of the “Rising Sun”
The united power bloc of Asia was predicted by the Plain Truth back in April 1968:”Despite its many national, religious and political differences, Asia will ultimately be welded together into a common power bloc. It will ultimately send its military muscle into the Middle East at the return of Jesus Christ. This prophecy is recorded in Revelation 16:12 and 16. Japan will play a vital role in this battle.”
So we focus first on Japan!
At the end of the Second World War and the beginning of the cold war, the U.S. quelled the world’s bitter memories of Japanese aggression with this agreement:America would defend Japan if America could station troops close to potential conflict zones. America, in fact, wrote Japan’s post-war “peace constitution.” Japan really had no need to build up armed forces (which was what the rest of the world then wanted), and it prided itself on being a “civilian” power,”using its trade and aid to encourage stability in the region”(Economist, March 1, 1999). Thus Japan was able to pour all its resources into becoming an economic superpower.
But the cold war didn’t last forever. Once the Soviet threat to the U.S. evaporated, America “justifiably lost interest in bearing Asia’s many military burdens alone to the benefit of others, including Japan. Hence the need for Japan to be seen to be doing more” (ibid.). Japan could now take care of itself more—“assisting” in regional conflicts beyond its own waters, but not yet directly.
Notice what Herbert Armstrong wrote in the Plain Truth,March 1971: “Japan today has no military establishment. Some United States forces are still there. But we should not lose sight of the fact that Japan has become so powerful economically that it could build a military force of very great power very rapidly.”
How?Don’t forget that Japan, according to most reports, is the second-largest national economy in the world! (In fact, Malaysia’s prime minister envisions the asean economy being based upon the Japanese yen.)
The July 1966 Plain Truth stated: “With China possessing the bomb, does Japan dare not build one of her own? Japan is the super-giant of the Orient, rising to dizzying heights of economic prosperity. As we have reported in past issues of this magazine, the world is yet to hear of alarming trends in Japan!… Japan could join the ‘nuclear club’ any time!”
And they are! Shingo Nishimura, former vice director-general for political affairs of the Japan Defence Agency, “sparked public furor when he asserted at an interview with a monthly magazine last October while he was in office that it is advisable for ‘Japan to have nuclear arms,’ and Japan should expand the ‘Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere’ worldwide,”according to a bbc report dated January 6.
Now notice this report from bbcWorldwide Monitoring, December 4, 1999:”The Japanese reactionaries are accelerating their move to become a military power and arming themselves with nuclear weapons because they intend to realize the old dream of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Japan is creating danger of a new war and the wave of an arms race in Asia.”
The “Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere”? Why, that was the hot topic in a Plain Truth article over 30 years ago! “Most people have totally forgotten about Japan’s so-called ‘Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere’ of the 1930s. It was Japan’s attempt to mask its military conquests under the guise of economic unity” (April 1968). Notice almost the exact same wording in the January 6 bbc report:”Japan, camouflaged as a pigeon, has thrown off the mask and is about to emerge as a nuclear eagle…. Japan, regarding nuclear weapons as almighty for revival of the old empire that controlled colonies, is fully ready to become a nuclear power any time and restored the right of belligerency and the right to participate in a war, both of which had been banned by the constitution after its defeat, thus legally paving the way for a war of overseas aggression.”
Japan has ignored the “peace constitution” in order to develop a “collective self-defense,” it says. In reality, that means becoming a member of the nuclear weapons club! Also widely ignored is the paradoxical fact that Japan was the first and only victim of nuclear warfare, yet it “has participated actively in the legitimization of nuclear weapons…” (The Times [India],Nov. 23, 1999). It proposed, in 1955, to the world court that “the use of nuclear weapons was not illegal under all circumstances” (ibid.).
Why this military build-up now?”The experiences of the 1990-1991 Gulf War, the 1996-1997 hostage crisis at the Japanese embassy in Peru, followed by North Korea’s launch last August of a two-stage Taepo-dong missile over Japan’s Honshu Island, all have worked to heighten a new sense of urgency in the Japanese leadership reconsidering the constitutional limitations on their military forces…. Japan’s ongoing dispute with Russia on sovereignty over the Kurile Islands, its current political debate on Japanese military forces, perceived North Korean and Chinese aggression, and the call from Southeast Asian countries for Japan to take a more assertive role in Asia will all inevitably combine to push Japan back onto the world stage as a military power of note” (Trumpet, June 1999).
A “call from Southeast Asian countries for Japan to take a more assertive role in Asia” is exactly what was prophesied back in the February 1963 Plain Truth. Quoting Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, “a famed World War Iace and modern aviator businessman,” it stated, “‘This means that Korea, Southeast Asia, Malaysia and Indonesia—the whole area that once fell to the guns of Imperial Japan—will one day be dancing again to tunes called from Tokyo.’ Fantastic, perhaps, but true! Japan is now well on the road toward becoming a superpower in the world, and only the thriving, throbbing, reindustrialized nation of Japan will be calling the shots in Asia!”
Also feeding the remilitarization of Japan is its increasing rise in nationalism. “In a bid to revive some of its past heritage, the Japanese government overwhelmingly confirmed adoption of Japan’s rising sun flag and national hymn to the emperor as the country’s official national symbols. This move is as hugely symbolic as the German Parliament’s move back to the old Reichstag building in Berlin…” (Trumpet, Sept./Oct. 1999).
The Trumpet was not the first to liken Japan’s rise to that of Germany. The February 1963 Plain Truth stated, “Japan is doing, in effect, exactly what Germany is doing in the Common Market! Just as Germany…is leading the Common Market in her industrial boom, and is the only nation which is destined to lead such a tremendous collection of powerful countries, so is Japan surging ahead to capture the leadership in all the Orient. Japan is the onlyAsiatic nation equipped to provide the industrial know-how and leadership to harness the almost unlimited resources of this neglected, sprawling, unbelievably rich part of the world. Even if communism will dilute its ideology with capitalism, one thing is certain! Before much longer Japan will be an industrial giant in Asia that will be negotiating from a position of great strength with the other giants of the world—the United States, Russia and united Europe!”
The March 1, 1999, Economist noted the same parallel: “Meanwhile, precisely because of Japan’s military past, its government needs to explain to opponents at home, as Germany’s did, that defending democratic values, regrettably, requires military means. Most Japanese would rather put off such difficult issues until a mind-clearing crisis comes along. But, as Germany has found, doing more dangerous military duties takes careful peacetime preparation and practice.”
Notice this article, “Tokyo Assumes Region’s Global Mantle,” from the South China Morning Post (Jan. 17):”Japan intends to wield a political influence it has not attempted to use for half a century…. [Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi] said that as the only Asian country in the Group of Eight developed countries, it was Japan’s responsibility to promote the interests of Asian…countries…. The Asian economic crisis, North Korea’s bizarre behavior and the lengthening shadow of China have helped persuade the Japanese government to emerge from its shell. Tokyo’s confidence has been boosted by calls at last November’s meeting of the ten-nation [asean], also attended by Japan, China and South Korea, for Asian states to band together or face more domination by the West. ‘There is some pressure, some demand for us to play a more prominent role in the region. We cannot ignore that,’ said Akitaka Saiki, a spokesman for the premier.”
The Trumpet stated, in its September/October 1999 issue,”Watch Japan as it climbs out of its economic slough, rebound with a renewed sense of nationalism driving a return to a new militarism in the guise of ‘self defense,’ with the full support and backing of the U.S.”
Yes, the U.S. is fully backing Japan’s military resurgence. Notice this Agence France Presse (afp) headline of January 6: “U.S., Japanese Defense Chiefs Discuss Security, Military Cooperation”—mainly to deal with a suspected arms build-up in the pariah state of North Korea. The Economist reported how “China is angry that America might call on Japan for such help in a future tiff over Taiwan.”
Notice what the Plain Truth published in April 1968:”Washington officials frankly admit that they expect Japan to develop a big military establishment to assist the U.S. in Asian power politics. One Tokyo observer stated that the United States has no other alternative but to push Japan toward eventually becoming a thermo-nuclear power.”
China is watching Japan. But the reverse is also true. Last August there was some tension between China and Japan when Japanese lawmakers wanted to raise their flag over islands in the East China Sea claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing. Also, according to a South Korean newspaper, China sold North Korea “massive” amounts of military equipment in November of last year, thus harming any substantial ties between China and Japan.
Japan is watching the rest of Asia very closely. “Japan will pay ‘close attention’ to such issues as Beijing’s actions regarding Taiwan, Jakarta’s measures on growing separatist activities, and [North Korea’s] signs toward engagement [or war]”(Asian Economic News, Dec. 27, 1999).
This leads us into two other parts of Asia—the hot issues concerning Taiwan and the separatist activities threatening Indonesia. We will first go to Taiwan.
The Trumpet reported extensively on the Taiwan situation in recent issues. But it was also discussed back in the 1970s Plain Truths. The June 7, 1975, issue, concerning then-U.S. President Ford’s visit to China, stated that Taiwan feared “further steps toward eventual recognition of Communist China…. Washington, however, continues to formally recognize [Taiwan] despite this de facto [non-official] recognition of Peking [the Chinese capital now known as Beijing].”
When Taiwan lost its UN seat in favor of China in 1971 after a secret visit by Henry Kissinger, dozens of nations withdrew recognition of the island. In 1975, 30 nations recognized Taiwan—contrasted with 90 nations which recognized Beijing.
Three years later (Feb. 1978), in an article headlined, “Taiwan Faces Grim Future,” the Plain Truth predicted that if America cut ties with faithful Taiwan, “a political whirlwind may sweep Asia.” By this time, only 23 countries had diplomatic relations to Taiwan, and the U.S. was known as its “only real protector” against its Communist neighbors.
“We then asked Dr. Tsai [Wei-ping] what we felt to be the crucial question of the entire discussion: If the United States decides to push ahead with the recognition of [China] and abrogate its defense pact with Taiwan, did he feel [China] would actually try to take Taiwan by force? ‘Of course,’ he replied without hesitation. ‘And they will move quicker than you might think!’ Why? A swift takeover of Taiwan, he believed, would greatly enhance [China’s] role as a world power…. ‘The Mutual Defense Treaty between the United States and [Taiwan] has served to preserve peace in the West Pacific area during the last 20 years…. Without it, war across the Formosa Strait is a virtual certainty.’”
In 1979, President Jimmy Carter severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan to establish relations with China—although retaining substantial economic and cultural ties. That was the result of the Taiwan Relations Act overwhelmingly passed by Congress that year, which “served all sides well until President Clinton imprudently departed from it in June 1998” (Washington Times, Jan. 11).
Ever since, China has been much more bold in its threats against the island republic. Nonetheless, the U.S. views these threats as bluffs, since the Chinese military (although it could pose a formidable threat in five to ten years) could not succeed at an invasion presently. Neither is China sure, because of America’s ambiguous relations with both countries, what the U.S. would do in case of an attack.
The time will come, nevertheless, when the U.S. will abandon Taiwan and the island will go back to mother China, by military or other means. This has been China’s goal—to reunite its nation—and Taiwan has yet to join. As we stated in the last issue of the Trumpet, “the impending takeover of Taiwan is deeply symbolic of mending [China’s] final rift.”
Indonesia and the Strait of Malacca
Another Asian trouble spot has Japan—and, in fact, all of asean— watching with great interest: Indonesia.
Asean, at its November 1999 summit, agreed to support Indonesia’s sovereignty. The summit was actually the first for Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid. Remember, a crisis in this highly strategic sea lane was listed by Stratfor as one of the two possible catalysts that could unite Asia! What asean is watching now is the trouble brewing in the oil-rich province of Aceh.
The stability of Asia rests heavily on the stability of Indonesia—the guardian of the region’s major shipping route (the Strait of Malacca) and asean’s largest member. “A healthy Indonesia is extremely important to the region”(Stratfor Global Intelligence Update, Dec. 3, 1999). Yet Asia initially did nothing after violence began in East Timor—due to its collective non-interventionist policy.
Now, separatists in Aceh, inspired by East Timor, are stirring up trouble. Indonesia expert at Northwestern University, Jeffrey Winters, said, “Politically, the loss of Aceh could ruin Indonesia’s fragile democracy…. Indonesia needs Aceh more than Aceh needs Indonesia. Aceh has the potential to become a viable country whose gdp per capita would be higher than the rest of Indonesia and would probably grow faster.” There are natural gas fields in northern Aceh which generate $4 million a day—all of which goes to Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta!
If Aceh, located on the strategic Strait of Malacca, were to follow East Timor’s example and break away from Indonesia, it would then most likely inspire movements in Irian Jaya, Riau and other parts of Indonesia, leading to the break-up of the world’s fourth-most populous country. Indonesia cannot afford this! Neither can asean. All of its nations—including the Plus Three nations—rely heavily on that trade route.They would not—could not—let this happen! If Aceh causes problems, whether it emboldens other provinces or not, Indonesia would be in serious trouble—and so would the entire asean-Plus-Three union! “All ten countries of asean, plus Japan, China and South Korea, have agreed that they are committed to protecting Indonesia’s sovereignty and stability”(ibid.).
When Britain lost the vital sea-gate of Singapore, which is also on the Strait of Malacca, in the ’60s, the October 1965 Plain Truth announced, “It is only a matter of a few years before Singapore and the whole of Southeast Asia will be in the hands of the Asians. Western influence will come to an end.” (Years later, two crucial ports—Britain’s Hong Kong and Portugal’s Macao—would go back to China, thus further cutting the West out of the East.)
These conflicts in this strategic trade area will not solicit notable intervention from the West at all! An ineffective UN mission would not be the answer—as was seen on the other side of the Indonesian island bridge, in East Timor. Even Australia’s weak and nearly expended army, just to the south, would not be much help.
It would be up to mother Asia to save its troubled child, Indonesia.
Watch East Asia
This work has been showing, since the 1960s, the dire importance of events in Asia and where they have been leading. Some of these events have clearly happened or are beginning to happen. Keep watching Asia, though, as all that we have prophesied comes to fruition. Here are some events upon which to cast your eye:
• Watch for Japan to develop more strength militarily, not needing the U.S. alliance as much as it used to. The April 1968 Plain Truth warned:”Despite popular belief, Japan is not permanently committed to a pro-Western position. America has foolishly followed the policy of assuming that…Germany and Japan can be converted to the virtues of democracy in less than a generation…. Both Japanese and Germans are willing, for the present, to put up with their so-called democratic form of government—until some serious internal crisis is precipitated…. Japan tolerates her present form of government as long as it is economically expedient. If the time were ever to come—and it will come—that the Japanese could not feed off of American aid, we would witness a remarkable change in attitude toward the United States. Friendship would quickly evaporate.” Any U.S. financial crisis would change this alliance, thus thrusting Japan into further cohesion with its Asian neighbors, economically leading them to further dominance.
• Taiwan will hold its second presidential election in March. The results of this may irritate the ever-growing sore between the island and Beijing.
• Watch Indonesia and its independence-seeking provinces as they continue to threaten the stability of the populous island bridge and the entire regional bloc of Asian nations!
• Watch asean. No matter how logistically difficult complete economic and military integration is at this point, it has nevertheless “crossed the threshold and is moving faster than ever toward acting like a regional bloc”(op. cit., Stratfor). Watch their November summit in Singapore.
• And watch for the economically crippled Russian bear to snuggle ever closer to an economically powerful Asian combine—developing a military alliance that will outnumber any army ever amassed; your Bible prophesies it to be 200 million men. For more information on Asia in Bible prophecy—and its relations with Russia, write for our free booklet Russia and China in Prophecy.