Scholar: Ways to bring China-Japan relations back to right track

China Military
Yao Jianing

BEIJING, March 23 (ChinaMil) -- This year marks the 45th anniversary of the normalized relations between China and Japan. Leaders of China and Japan met in November 2014 and successfully eased the tensions brought by the Japanese side.

China-Japan relations has thus entered a détente(French word) period. However, more than two years later, such détente has been seriously deteriorated. To a certain extent, the trend of detente is heading to the wrong direction, and clearly the Japanese side should be held responsible.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during China's annual "Two Sessions":“As far as China-Japan relations is concerned, the underlying problem is that some politicians in Japan have the wrong perception about China. Do they view a growing China as a friend or a foe, a partner or an adversary? ”

Over the past two years, the Abe government has advocated "China threat theory" and the so-called "values-oriented diplomacy" for its deep-rooted right-wing political ideas and genes. Japan has closely followed the US to contain China.

According to such practices, Japan clearly did not treat China as a friend and partner. There are scholars both in China and in Japan believe that as long as Abe did not step down, the dilemma in China-Japanese relations cannot be improved.

However, treating China as an enemy is apparently not in line with Japan's national interests. Kohara Masahiro, a Japanese foreign ministry official, said that the stability of East Asia and the fact that Japan has no enemies around is not only one of Japan's "core interests" but also Japan's most important "core interest".

This means that Abe's policy of "treating China as a foe" is only in line with the political interests of the individual and the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, as well as the need for constitutional amendment.

However, Abe must take the national interests into account. If the détente between the two sides goes back to the state before November 2014, there will be a significant negative impact on Japan's economy, security and maritime transportation.

The tensions between China and Japan are largely the result of the US strategy of differentiating China-Japan relations. The US is always reluctant to see an intimate China-Japan relationship.

In 1972, the US buried a "political mine" between China and Japan with the Diaoyu Islands issue. Later, Japan became the most important strategic piece for the US to contain China's peaceful rise.

However, Trump abandoned the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement) after taking office. This has made Japan very worried as the TPP is an important means to work with the US to contain China. Japan is also worried that Trump may ask them to pay for the US military protection. Japan is also concerned that China and the US may reach consensus on "constructive relationship" and Japan will once again be "abandoned" by the US.

I believe that in this case, Japan will turn to the bigger "10+6" regional comprehensive economic partnership agreement and cooperation with China and the Republic of Korea if it cannot bring the TPP back to life in the next year or two.

In the history of modern international relations, the French word détente often refers to the US-Soviet relations in the 1970s. The "ease of tensions" between the US and Soviet Union was achieved according to their respective strategic needs, rather than the "improvement" or "friendship" between the two countries.

Comparatively speaking, although China and Japan have disputes, there is still about 300 billion US dollars of trade relations. Japan is China’s second largest trading partner. China and Japan have lots of common interests in the field of environmental protection, economy and other areas.

A real improvement in China-Japan relations is not possible at least during the Abe administration, but it is possible to urge Abe to change the wrong practice of confronting China. Only in this way, the charade of détente can continue. Of course, the détente also meets China's needs for a stable economic construction.

The author is Feng Zhaokui, an honorary member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and consultant of China The Society Of China-Japanese Relations History.

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