Takashi Kawamura, the Mayor of Nagoya, reportedly openly denied the Nanjing Massacre in front of a delegation from the Chinese city. According to Japanese media, the Nanjing visitors responded modestly without making a strong protest, despite their contradicting of the claim.
In China, the Internet is abuzz with strong protests against the Nagoya municipal government and criticism of the Nanjing delegation. Public fury can be easily ignited due to the sensitivity of historical issues between China and Japan.
If Japanese media reported the matter factually, the delegation failed from a diplomatic perspective. The excuse that few delegation members were diplomats does not explain everything.
Foreign officials may increasingly press China's buttons in the wrong way, especially when doing this can cater to local public opinion. In contrast, Chinese are much more reserved in both internal and diplomatic circumstances. There is no small matter in the diplomatic arena. This principle has been embedded in the foreign affairs activities of Chinese officials. Avoiding diplomatic trouble has become an instinctive reaction for many.
Japanese media just revealed a simple detail. Similar diplomatic floundering may happen often in everyday foreign affairs. Chinese people are traditionally passive. But this meticulous approach does not fit China's diplomatic circumstances today. Often pushed on various conflicts, it needs to adopt a more decisive style. The scope of its diplomacy today also does not allow overcautiousness on minor details.
The entire diplomatic circle needs to be more confident. The provocative remarks of the Nagoya mayor should be strongly refuted, otherwise, more offensive remarks may follow.
Chinese officials should also believe that in the diplomatic world, there is no fuss that is too big to be caused. It is not a strategy, but a courageous style when China is squeezed on many diplomatic fronts. A relationship with a particular country getting a little better or worse would not impede China's development. This attitude can prevent major events from erupting from small matters.
Diplomacy means honestly showing what we truly care about. It does not interfere with diplomatic skill.
While attending to those of others, we should also attend to our own feelings. It is a pity that almost all frictions in China's diplomatic exchanges were first broken by foreign sides. Chinese officials should learn how to use the media to tilt public opinion against the provoker.