Relations between China and Japan have seen a rapid deterioration over the past months as Tokyo has firmly declared itself in Washington's corner on its willingness to defend Taiwan in the future event of a Chinese invasion of the island.
This week a social media video has been widely shared in China after it was originally posted to the official social media account of a local municipal authority run by Communist officials after being created by a Chinese military channel with over two million followers. The now viral video bluntly calls for "continuously" striking Japan with nuclear weapons should it continue supporting Taiwan's independence aspirations. The original upload has since been taken down from Xigua - the Chinese social media site which has a similar appearance to YouTube - after garnering international media attention. Watch the reposted video with subtitles below...
"If Japan intervenes in military affairs to reunify Taiwan, I must recommend the 'exceptional theory of nuclear strikes on Japan,'" the video's title reads.
The narrator then declares Japan "has not learned its lesson from history" which means China must "continuously using nuclear bombs until Japan announces its unconditional surrender for the second time" - in reference to WWII.
It was posted Sunday by the city council of Baoji in northwestern Shaanxi province. The "exceptional theory" is the controversial view held by many Chinese officials that China's 'self-defense only' use of atomic bombs doesn't apply in the case of Japan, thus an "exception" can be made.
"Our country is undergoing major changes unlike any in the last century... In order to ensure the peaceful rise of our country, it is necessary to take measures," the narration continues.
It urges citizens and government leaders to "combine the new and old hatred" for Japan, including from Japan's World War II invasion of China and the Nanjing Massacre - which it says viewers should think of in relation to Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso's earlier this month surprising statements saying that any future Chinese invasion of Taiwan would likely be interpreted in Tokyo as a "threat to Japan's survival" - allowing the government to deploy its Self-Defense Forces for collective self-defense.
China irked by Japan deputy PM’s comments on ‘protecting’ Taiwan— Amrita Bhinder 🇮🇳 (@amritabhinder) July 10, 2021
China lodged a diplomatic protest with Japan after Japanese deputy prime minister Taro Aso said Tokyo and Washington should combine to protect Taiwan from Chinese military if it is attacked. https://t.co/0AwrqrhnMX
"If a major incident happened [in Taiwan], it would not be strange at all if it touches on a situation threatening survival," Aso said on July 5. "If that is the case, Japan and the US must defend Taiwan together." The number two highest Japanese official further noted "the situation over Taiwan is becoming extremely intense".
This came after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's visit to the White House in April, wherein he reiterated "objections to China’s unlawful maritime claims and activities in the South China Sea" and outraged China by signing onto a joint statement which included the following line:
"The United States restated its unwavering support for Japan’s defense under the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, using its full range of capabilities, including nuclear."
The Chinese Embassy in the US had condemned the words as "completely beyond the scope" of healthy bilateral relations, saying Japan will only "harm" itself in such declarations with the US.
Often Beijing's most bellicose threats to external enemies are issued through state media channels, in order to be made indirectly. Given how quickly this latest threatening social media video went viral, and its origins on a popular Chinese military channel, it's likely it had "official" approval for release somewhere within the top echelons of the CCP.