Libmonster ID: SE-351
Author(s) of the publication: A. V. SEMIN


Candidate of Political Sciences

China Keywords:JapanUSAEast Asia

In the XXI century. Japan and China entered as the most powerful economic powers in Asia, influential players in world and regional politics. This year, China surpassed Japan in terms of gross domestic product (GDP). Economic and political stability in East Asia largely depends on the state of relations between the two countries, and they also affect world politics.

At the beginning of this decade, relations between Japan and China were not stable and balanced, developing according to the scenario: "in the economy - hot, in politics - cold." Moreover, in 2001, the Tokyo - Beijing political dialogue, which had been regular in the 1990s, was interrupted. Disagreements over a range of political issues have escalated to such an extent that they threaten the development of trade, economic and other ties.

Relations returned to normal only after the change of the Japanese leadership, when the Cabinet of Ministers headed by Dz resigned in 2006. Koizumi.


The beginning of the thaw was marked by the official visit of the new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Beijing in October 2006.

The Joint Chinese-Japanese Statement stressed the parties ' desire to return to dialogue without preconditions and develop comprehensive cooperation.

In fact, there was even more than a return to dialogue. For the first time, an agreement was reached on building "strategic mutually beneficial relations" between Japan and China. And this is despite the fact that in 1998, during the Japan-China summit in Tokyo, the Japanese side did not support Beijing's initiative to direct the development of its relations with Japan in a "strategic" direction.

In April 2007 Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Wen Jiabao paid an official visit to Tokyo. He held talks with Prime Minister Abe, was received by Emperor Akihito, and delivered a speech to members of parliament. The local press described the visit as "breaking the ice" in bilateral relations. 1

The Joint Japan-China Statement clarified the provisions contained in the 2006 Joint Statement, and revealed the content of a new important concept - "strategic mutually beneficial relations".

Such relationships include:

- Mutual support for peaceful development and strengthening of political interaction.

- Deepening of mutually beneficial cooperation and implementation of joint development.

- Intensifying the dialogue in the defense sector, directing joint efforts to ensure stability in the region.

- Expanding exchanges in the humanitarian field, deepening mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples.

- Strengthening coordination and collaboration, and jointly responding to regional and global challenges 2.

Mr. Fukuda, who succeeded Mr. Abe as Prime Minister a year later, maintained his policy of improving relations with Beijing. During his official visit to China in December 2007, the two sides confirmed their commitment to follow the agreements reached at the 2006 and 2007 summits.

In May 2008, during the official visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to Japan, a Joint Japan-China Declaration on "Comprehensive development of mutually beneficial relations based on common strategic interests"was signed.3

Both sides have classified the statement as a major defining diplomatic document, such as the Joint Statement of the Governments of Japan

page 2

Japan-China Treaty on Normalization of Relations between Japan and the People's Republic of China of 1972, Treaty on Peace and Friendship of 1978, Joint Declaration on Building Partnership Relations of 1998.

Together with the new Joint Statement of 2008, these agreements are qualified as a "political foundation" for the development of bilateral relations. Beijing emphasizes that "a comprehensive strategy to promote mutually beneficial relations based on common strategic interests" should now become a priority goal of the two countries ' policy towards each other.


In September 2009, the opposition Democratic Party came to power in Japan, led by Yukio Hatoyama, who became the head of the Cabinet of Ministers.

The Chinese side has closely followed the first steps of the new Japanese leadership. In particular, Beijing drew particular attention to the Prime Minister's statements about his intention to build "equal" relations with the United States and his desire to create an East Asian Community (EAC)4. But it was especially important for Beijing to receive confirmation from Tokyo of the continuity of Japan's policy towards China.

On September 21, 2009, during the 64th Session of the UN General Assembly, Chinese President Hu Jintao met with Prime Minister Hatoyama in New York. The leaders of the two countries confirmed their readiness to implement the agreements reached earlier, although they failed to achieve complete unity of views on some issues.

Hatoyama called for the start of negotiations to conclude a bilateral agreement on joint development of gas fields in disputed sectors of the East China Sea near the Diaoyu Islands (Senkaku), saying: "I want to turn a sea of problems into a sea of friendship." Hu Jintao, for his part, recognized the importance of cooperation in solving the problem of developing gas fields in the region, and suggested starting negotiations at a working level in the future. At the same time, he stated: "This sea should become a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation."

Hu put forward a number of other proposals: to conduct more frequent mutual visits of the two leaders; to cooperate more actively in the field of economy and trade; to strengthen the mutual sympathies of the two peoples; to promote cooperation in solving regional and global problems; and to patiently overcome the differences in approaches of the two countries. 5

Both leaders have expressed their interest in working together to create an East Asian community. However, differences in the approaches of China and Japan still remain one of the main reasons for the slowdown in the formation of this regional structure.6

Speaking in a debate at the UN General Assembly, Hatoyama called for the creation of an EAC to promote cooperation among Asian countries, stressing that"if Japan does not actively participate in the affairs of the Asia-Pacific region, it will not be able to develop." At the same time, he expressed readiness to cooperate in such areas as the conclusion of a free trade agreement, finance, currency, energy, ecology, and disaster management.7

As for China, it did not limit itself to statements. So, on January 7, 2010, a solemn ceremony was held in Nanying on the occasion of the establishment of the China - ASEAN Free Trade Zone (FTA). It is expected that it will give a powerful impetus to economic integration in East Asia.

Following this zone in 2011, it is planned to introduce a free trade zone of the Republic of Tatarstan.-

page 3

the Korea - ASEAN FTA, and in 2012 the Japan - ASEAN FTA. According to Chinese analysts, these 3 zones may later merge into one large one, which will become the basis of the East Asian Economic Community in the "10+3" format. Beijing sees the East Asian Community in this format.8

At a meeting of the leaders of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea in May 2010, the two sides signed a statement on launching trilateral cooperation to jointly explore the possibility of establishing a China-Japan-South Korea free trade zone. This study is scheduled to be completed by the 2012 meeting of the leaders of China, Japan, and the ROK. 9

However, this prospect cannot but alarm Washington, which sees this regional structure as a tool for strengthening China's position.

To reassure the Americans, Japanese officials had to make a number of statements in which they, emphasizing the continued importance of allied relations with the United States, confirm their commitment to the principle of "openness" in the creation of the EAC, which, in theory, does not exclude joining the organization and the United States. However, China strongly opposes the participation of the United States.

In December 2009, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping paid an official visit to Japan, becoming the first Chinese leader to visit Japan after the new cabinet was formed.

The Japanese side took very seriously the organization of the program of the Chinese guest's stay, considering him as a future successor to Hu Jintao as President of the People's Republic of China. Xi Jinping was received by Emperor Akihito.

During the talks with Hatoyama, a wide range of issues related to the state and prospects of bilateral and regional cooperation were discussed, in full accordance with the content of the Sino-Japanese Joint Japan-China Statement of 2008.10

However, in January 2010, a dispute broke out over the Diaoyu Islands (Senkaku), where rich oil and gas deposits were discovered on the continental shelf*. Japanese Foreign Minister Okada said that Tokyo will take appropriate measures if the PRC unilaterally begins to develop them. The official representative of the Chinese Foreign Ministry stressed that " the Chinese side has sovereignty over the Chun Xiao field... (and)... It will firmly defend its legitimate rights in the East China Sea. " 11

When Hatoyama left the post of Prime Minister in early June 2010, he left a written message to his successor, Naoto Kan, urging him to maintain a course of strengthening relations with the United States, China and South Korea. Speaking to members of the ruling Democratic Party in parliament on the eve of his election as Prime Minister of Japan, Kan said he would honor the agreement to maintain the US military base in Okinawa and seek to deepen trust with the US, but develop relations with China "equally" 12.

The emergence of new trends in Beijing - Tokyo relations in recent years has been facilitated by changes on a global scale.

As a result of the relative weakening of the position of the only superpower - the United States, associated with the strengthening of the economic power and political influence of the PRC, India, the Russian Federation, etc., the foundations of the world order, which in many countries was regarded as unipolar, wavered. With Beijing's active participation, the prerequisites are maturing for a realignment of the entire system of international relations, which will lead, among other things, to a change in relations in the Japan - China - US geopolitical triangle.

Tokyo, like Washington, generally sees China's rise as a potential threat to its national interests. At the same time, Japan is extremely interested in avoiding any conflicts with its growing neighbor.

The emerging trend of a gradual change in the balance of power between the United States and China in favor of the latter sets the Japanese leadership the task of calculating relations with each of these two powers in the future. The nuances and discrepancies in the approach of Tokyo and Washington to the PRC that have existed in the past may become more profound.

Judging by some signs, the Japanese political elite is already beginning to think about a more flexible maneuvering between Washington and Beijing. As for the Chinese side, it seems that it intends to take advantage of this situation in the interests of political rapprochement with Japan.

And some Japanese political scientists go even further.

So, the expert Haruki Yoshida in his book under the eloquent title " America or China?" Emphasizes that it is vital for Japan to have a strong ally. Today, the strongest power is America, but it is possible that in the near future its place may be taken by the PRC. In addition, there is an opinion that in the future the United States will gradually withdraw from Asia. In this case, Yoshida writes, Japan should not hesitate to link itself with China.13

* For more information, see: Rusakov E. M. Ni zdravogo smysla, ni prava (mezhdunarodnogo) / / Aziya i Afrika segodnya, 2010, N 3.

page 4


Beijing, as if by analogy with Washington's policy of" involving " the PRC in global affairs, is beginning to purposefully build a course to involve Tokyo in political cooperation with China on a wide range of issues.

This is evidenced, in particular, by the analytical report "Sino-Japanese relations and China's Policy towards Japan in the coming Decade", prepared by specialists of the Institute of Japanese Studies of the Chinese Academy of Sciences 14.

The authors of this document interpret the" strategic mutually beneficial interests " of China and Japan as follows::

- In comparison with the Japanese-American alliance, "strategic mutually beneficial interests" represent a lower level of cooperation: there is no common ideology and strategy in the field of security. In addition, Sino-Japanese relations are not built on the principle of "sovereign-vassal", as between the United States and Japan.

- In comparison with the Sino-Japanese relations of the period 1972-1998, "strategic mutually beneficial interests" are relatively cooler, they are focused not on friendly feelings, but on more pragmatic and equal relations.

At the same time, against the background of Sino-Japanese relations in 1998-2006, "strategic mutually beneficial interests" became a step towards overcoming the vicious circle in which "historical memory" (about the intervention of militaristic Japan in China in 1931-1945) is decisive on the Chinese side, and security interests on the Japanese side.

"Strategic Mutually beneficial interests" are a transition stage to a higher level of Sino-Japanese relations-strategic cooperation.

However, the authors of the report do not rule out the possibility of future conflicts in relations between the two countries, since serious contradictions remain between them, both of a strategic and structural nature.

These include the following::

Conflicts based on core interests. They are manifested, first of all, in the approach to such problems as the demarcation of the border in the East China Sea and the dispute over the ownership of the Diaoyu Islands (Senkaku). As the report highlights, resolving differences on these issues will be a particularly difficult challenge for both sides.

Conflicts that have historical roots are quite serious, but less significant, since they are not related to the modern interests of China. Therefore, both sides should exercise maximum caution on this issue, so as not to damage the much more important current bilateral relations.

Emotional conflicts. According to Chinese researchers, mutual understanding between the Chinese and Japanese has not yet changed for the better. The main reasons for this situation are the nationalistic conservatism of the Japanese population and the increased sensitivity of the Chinese population to their historical past.

The overall strategic goal of future Sino-Japanese relations is to promote the development of psychological compatibility between the two peoples, promote the two countries ' progress from peaceful coexistence to joint development, and from mutual strategic interests to strategic cooperation.

The main provisions of this section are as follows::

- for the sustainable development of Sino-Japanese relations, it is extremely important to ensure the balance between the two countries.-

page 5

consolidated development of relations in the political and economic fields;

- the emergence of a strategic confrontation between the two countries is unlikely. However, if the main problems in the relationship are not controlled and effectively resolved, the possibility of a low-level strategic confrontation cannot be ruled out. According to Chinese researchers, it is fundamentally important that the two most serious controversial issues-the demarcation of the border in the East China Sea and the ownership of the Diaoyu Islands - are solved in one package.;

"Although resolving the Taiwan issue and implementing peaceful reunification is an internal matter for China, Japan is one of the factors that cannot be ignored in this process. As long as the US does not change its policy on Taiwan, Japan's policy will not change either;

- In connection with Japan's desire to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the Chinese side has already expressed support for a more significant role of Japan in the UN. Although China does not have a pass for Japan to enter the UN Security Council, the two countries may well engage in a constructive dialogue on UN reform. Over time, China may take a more positive stance on Japan's plans to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.;

- China and Japan lack mutual trust in security issues due to the fact that both sides have not yet overcome doubts about each other's strategic goals. It would be advisable to promote cooperation in this area, moving from "not friends and not enemies" relations to truly partnership relations, to the creation of regional security structures and mechanisms, and to the formation of an East Asian Security Community.

According to the Chinese side, security cooperation between the PRC and Japan should not be based on the premise that China will abandon or slow down its efforts to strengthen its military power and improve military technologies.

One of the tasks that needs to be addressed as soon as possible is the creation of mechanisms for crisis prevention and management in order to avoid the escalation of tensions and conflicts.

It is also proposed to develop cooperation between Asian countries to ensure the security of the main maritime communications-from the Suez Canal to the Taiwan Strait, as well as to encourage the creation of a Community of mutually beneficial support and stability of economic development in the region, within which the problems of ensuring energy security would also be solved.

China and Japan, the report says, should make efforts to address regional security issues and create a multilateral security system. Both countries should promote the China - Japan - US strategic dialogue.

The idea of creating a new and broader security mechanism for the whole of East Asia is also put forward.

The two countries are invited to work together to overcome the financial crisis. They should promote the regional character of the bilateral agreement on mutual exchange of currencies, build a regional financial control mechanism, and step up close consultations, coordination and cooperation on the development of regional capital markets and the establishment of an Asian Currency Fund.

It emphasizes the need to combine efforts to conclude a Free trade Agreement and an Economic Partnership Agreement in order to coordinate the strategy and policy in the economic sphere, and jointly form the free trade area of East Asia within the framework of the East Asian Community.

It is also recognized that China and Japan have a serious common problem - dependence on foreign demand, primarily demand in the United States, which was negatively affected by the global financial and economic crisis. The two countries should use the opportunity to adjust their economic structure, expand and tap into domestic demand to improve their economies.

In order to strengthen energy and environmental cooperation, the report proposes the establishment of a Sino-Japanese Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Fund, jointly funded by the two Governments.


In the report of Chinese researchers, considerable attention is paid to the development of cultural contacts and improving the image of the PRC in Japan.

So, it is offered:

- Improve the image of China and promote the perception of the PRC by the Japanese as a friendly state. The report highlights that learning Chinese is an important and very effective way to understand China. Noting the steady increase in the number of Chinese language learners in Japan, the authors point out the need to actively support this trend. Offers-

page 6

A set of measures is being implemented, in particular, the opening of the Confucius Institute and School in Japan, the progressive increase in the scale of propaganda of Confucianism in order to turn the Confucius Institute into a stronghold for the dissemination of the Chinese language and culture in Japan.

- Promote individual contacts and expand the circle of people who are close to China. Special attention should be paid to youth exchange and those who have studied Chinese, as well as researchers dealing with the problems of China, Japan, and Japan-China relations. The idea is put forward to establish an Exchange Fund with the help of the Government in order to sponsor Japanese scientists studying China, provide assistance to educational institutions that study Chinese and individuals who study Chinese, and help expand the number of Japanese youth traveling to study in China. At the same time, Chinese universities and research institutes should organize various types of "Classes for studying Chinese Culture and Society", inviting Japanese people of different positions and ages, including housewives, to study in China. This would make it possible to expand the circle of people in Japan who know China and relate to it with personal sympathy.

- Responding to the growing interest of Japanese people in China, make extensive use of the Internet to create a correct image of the PRC, which can help overcome the still widespread distrust of China among Japanese people.

- To step up cultural propaganda in Japan, to support 4-5 Japanese companies in order to produce cultural products that would attract the attention of Japanese people. At the same time, it is necessary to deepen the knowledge of Japan among the Chinese population and cultivate a friendly attitude towards this country.

- The formation of VAS is a historical trend. China and Japan should vigorously study, organize and cultivate a common culture, promote its specific development, standardization and transformation into the basis of the East Asian Cultural Community. The authors remind that the centuries-old cultural exchange between the two countries has largely formed a common culture, which is based on Chinese writing, Confucianism, a Chinese variety of Buddhism, etc.

Explore history together. The future of Sino-Japanese relations may also depend on how to understand and evaluate the history of Japanese aggression against China. The past should not become an obstacle to the development of these relations and the establishment of trust between the two peoples and the formation of an East Asian cultural community, the authors of the report believe. Both sides need to keep under effective control the possible impact of this problem on bilateral relations, conduct joint historical research, expand their scope, reach agreement, and overcome contradictions.

* * *

Thus, China is striving to involve Japan in deeper and broader cooperation at the bilateral and regional levels, as evidenced by the program developed by Chinese scientists for the development of the Sino-Japanese "mutually beneficial cooperation based on common strategic interests" until 2020.

At the same time, the development of Sino-Japanese relations "based on common strategic interests" faces many difficulties and challenges.

There are still significant contradictions between the two countries, which are based on the discrepancy between the interests of the two major rival powers. In addition, Tokyo is forced to carefully weigh its steps towards China, taking into account its obligations to the United States under the Japan-US security treaty and Washington's interest in Japan remaining in its orbit of influence.

The security, stability and economic development of the whole of East Asia largely depend on how China and Japan manage to build their relations in the future.

1 Asia Times. 13.04.2007.

2 Ibidem.


4 People's Daily. 17.12.2009.


6 Ibidem.


8 7.01.2010

9 Ibidem. 7.05. 2010.

10 Xinhua. 14.12.2009

11 Official website of the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu's Remarks on Exploration of Chunxiao Oil-Gas Field. 19.01.2010.

12 Washington Post. 4.06.2010; New York Times. 4.06.2010.

Yoshida H. 13 Beikoku-ka, Chugoku-ka? (America or China?). Tokyo, 2007, pp. 272-274.

14 Sino-Japanesc relations and China policy toward Japan in the coming decade. Institute of Japanese Studies. Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. January, 2009. Jiang Lifeng, in the group: Gao Hong, Zhang Jifeng, Wan Wei, Cui Shinguang, Lv Yaodong, Wu Haizhong, перевод - Sun Lingling.


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