The Japan-ASEAN summit will be held from December 13 to 15 in Tokyo with the aim of economic cooperation between the two entities. Some Japanese media believe Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will discuss air security and maritime security at the summit to seek ASEAN support for its stance on the Air Defense Identification Zone and the Diaoyu Islands. They think such moves will draw ASEAN to its side to confront China.
Since the summit is held in Japan, the outside can hardly control what Abe will talk about. But if some Japanese try to make it a part of its strategy of "China encirclement," that is nothing but their illusions.
The leaders of many ASEAN countries will attend the summit, which shows Japan's influence in ASEAN. But such influence is merely economic. Except for the Philippines, few countries would like to be exploited by Japan to confront China. It also remains in doubt if the Philippines is really interested in standing by the Japanese strategically.
It is understandable that Japan wants to retain its influence in Southeast Asia. Japan lacks resources and has a small market. Even if China is in a dispute with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, we don't mind Japan developing stronger economic ties with Southeast Asia because it will not bring a sense of crisis to China.
The competition between major powers in Southeast Asia has never ended. The general trend is that China's influence in the region will rise the fastest. This is the inevitable process of China's development.
No matter how Tokyo creates waves, it will not gain a strategic advantage over China in Southeast Asia. No countries will confront China for the sake of a declining Japan. Even the US, Japan's patron, has to maintain relations with China while keeping its support to Japan.
Having disputes with China over the Diaoyu Islands is one thing, while it is another if Japan confronts China by making use of the Diaoyu dispute.
Given Japan has such tendencies, China has been determined to teach Japan a lesson, reversing Tokyo's perception toward its neighbor since the Meiji Restoration.
Now Japan has little leverage over China. It hopes China can compromise for the sake of its own rise. But Japan is wrong. China is interested in neither escalating a military clash with Japan nor reconciling with it. We feel the current deadlock is the very best situation. China is able to bear the losses caused by the worsening of bilateral ties.
It is hoped that Japan can accept the current stagnation of bilateral relations instead of causing non-stop provocations. With such "cold confrontation," the two can have time to rethink this relationship and seek how it can develop in the future, be that meditation or further confrontation.