Re­vamped ties pos­i­tive for Japan, China

Global Times US Edition - - EDITORIAL -

China’s State Coun­cilor and Foreign Min­is­ter Wang Yi started his visit to Japan Sun­day, the first Chi­nese foreign min­is­ter to visit the coun­try since 2009. Wang will at­tend the China-Japan High-level Eco­nomic Di­a­logue in Tokyo and brief Japan on the re­sults of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s visit to China. China, Japan and South Korea will also hold a sum­mit in Tokyo in May. Ja­panese me­dia re­ported that Chi­nese Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang may at­tend the sum­mit and Wang will lay the ground­work for Li’s visit.

Sino-Ja­panese re­la­tions are warm­ing. The re­marks of Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe’s ad­min­is­tra­tion over China’s af­fairs grow in­creas­ingly pos­i­tive. Tokyo ex­pressed will­ing­ness to join the Belt and Road ini­tia­tive. Sino-Ja­panese trade last year started to re­bound af­ter a down­ward trend. The two na­tions have also been ne­go­ti­at­ing a mar­itime and ae­rial com­mu­ni­ca­tion mech­a­nism to pre­vent ac­ci­den­tal clashes and are close to reach­ing an agree­ment.

Ties be­tween Bei­jing and Tokyo had fallen to a low ebb with con­tin­u­ous fric­tion, which con­sumed the en­ergy of both sides, harm­ing their in­ter­na­tional strat­egy and re­gional sta­bil­ity in the last few years. Both coun­tries have re­flected on the sit­u­a­tion. Pro­mot­ing nor­mal­iza­tion of Sino-Ja­panese re­la­tions has gained mo­men­tum in both coun­tries.

The core ten­sion be­tween Bei­jing and Tokyo seems to be China’s rise. See­ing China swiftly sur­pass Japan as the new No.1 power in Asia, Tokyo feels un­com­fort­able. Tokyo seemed more proac­tive than any­where else about con­tain­ing China’s rise. Chi­nese so­ci­ety does not ac­cept this re­bel­lious Ja­panese psy­chol­ogy and has been very per­sis­tent about slap­ping down Ja­panese ar­ro­gance.

Af­ter al­most eight years of con­flicts, the ma­jor is­sue grad­u­ally with­ered away.

When it comes to to­tal eco­nomic vol­ume, China has left Japan far be­hind and the lat­ter can hardly turn the sit­u­a­tion around. In 2017, China’s GDP is more than 2.5 times that of Japan. In terms of con­sumer mar­kets for au­to­mo­biles, mo­bile phones and ap­pli­ances or con­struc­tion of high-speed rail­ways and high­ways, Japan can hardly com­pete with China. Lit­tle by lit­tle, Ja­panese so­ci­ety is adapt­ing to the gap be­tween the two sides. Its com­pet­i­tive men­tal­ity is be­gin­ning to melt.

Tak­ing the US side has brought many losses and shrink­ing ben­e­fits to Japan. The re­la­tion­ship be­tween Tokyo and Wash­ing­ton has grown in­creas­ingly close and the US can thus ex­ploit Japan more un­scrupu­lously.

Mov­ing to­ward a neu­tral po­si­tion be­tween China and the US is no doubt more in line with Japan’s na­tional in­ter­est. It is com­mon­sense geopol­i­tics. By do­ing so, Japan’s strate­gic space will grow clearer. Its se­cu­rity will be im­proved and it will gain a more fa­vor­able po­si­tion in eco­nom­ics and diplo­macy.

Re­shap­ing China-Japan re­la­tions is of great strate­gic sig­nif­i­cance to Bei­jing. It will also have a pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on re­gional peace and sta­bil­ity. China can­not change the al­liance be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Tokyo, but it can crip­ple the ag­gres­sive­ness of that al­liance to­ward Bei­jing.

China and Japan should re­view the four po­lit­i­cal doc­u­ments be­tween them and jointly put their ties back on track. This is the big pic­ture be­tween the two and all other strate­gies should come sec­ond.

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