Cherish new positivity in Beijing-Tokyo ties

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-4-24 0:43:02

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a meeting in Jakarta on Wednesday on the sidelines of an Asia-Africa summit in Indonesia. The meeting is the first between the two since they met similarly during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting last year in Beijing. Public opinion has noted that the atmosphere was more at ease than when they were last pictured shaking hands. This shows a desire from both sides to continue improving the Sino-Japanese relationship.

But problems still overshadow bilateral ties and thus the basis for improvement is fragile. In the foreseeable future, we might see a more complex picture emerge, in which a growing number of high-level contacts between the two countries coincide, while historic and territorial disputes surface every now and then.

From the content of the conversations, the strategic vision as well as the outlook of the Chinese leader is significantly higher and is aimed at clarifying China's logic. Abe's remarks were more of an explanation and sounded slightly passive. This mirrors the real picture of the Sino-Japanese relationship.

China and Japan have a trust deficit. China, as a victim of war, should have more reasons to hold grudges against Japan. However, the reality is the opposite. Japan has constantly stirred up historic issues, which are twisted reactions against the rapid rise of China. Beijing, on the one hand has to respond to Tokyo's tricks, while on the other hand is surpassing Tokyo, casting its vision to the globe.

A friendly relationship will bring benefits to both China and Japan; such a consensus existed even in the frostiest of times. Yet there are too many interference factors which caused wild fluctuations in bilateral ties.

The US is a crucial external force that affects Sino-Japanese relations. Many believe the unspoken attitude of Washington is that no fighting is allowed between Beijing and Tokyo, but there must be tension. The US military presence in Japan is a leverage to get involved deeply in the relationship of these two Asian nations.

China's capability of making an overall strategy has been continuously upgraded, which has guaranteed more strategic initiatives in relations with Japan. The latter, on the other hand, has lost its position as Asia's largest economy and is not in a position to regain its dominance. Thus, it can only seek aggressive ways like provoking China from time to time, which makes it seem lost in the big picture of the Asia-Pacific.

The "One Belt and One Road" initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank represent China's broad direction of constructing its relations with the world. The bitter disputes with Japan have not and cannot stop China's march forward.

This might make Tokyo re-evaluate its capabilities to influence or disturb China.

Yet it is worth being optimistic about the future of Sino-Japanese relations. China is re-examining and relaxing its attitude toward Japan, while Tokyo has tied itself up in knots. An improvement to bilateral ties might become a primary concern in the days to come. If it can become a trend, it will surely be a good option for Chinese society.

Posted in: Editorial

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