Rocky friendship: Looking back on 45 yrs of China-Japan ties

By DENG ZHIMEI / 08-31-2017 / (Chinese Social Sciences Today)

The International Symposium on the 45th Anniversary of the Normalization of Sino-Japanese Diplomatic Ties was opened on Aug. 26 at the Great Hall of the People.

More than 150 Chinese and Japanese dignitaries, experts, scholars and media representatives recently gathered in Beijing to provide suggestions on ways to improve China-Japan relations.
The International Symposium on the 45th Anniversary of the Normalization of Sino-Japanese Diplomatic Ties opened on Aug. 26 at the Great Hall of the People. It was hosted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and organized by the Institute of Japanese Studies under CASS.

In his opening remarks, CASS President Wang Weiguang presented an in-depth analysis of the current relationship between China and Japan.

In the second decade of the 21st century, especially over the past five years, each has developed in its own way, finding new opportunities amid profound shifts in the global and regional landscapes, Wang said. At the same time, there are underlying problems, such as the lack of political mutual trust and weak national sentiments.

Wang said that some in Japan stubbornly refuse to abandon their wrong perspective of history, fail to foster a correct understanding of China’s rapid development, lose sight of the objective of normalizing diplomatic ties, and shake the political foundation of bilateral relations.
Their acts belie their words and disregard the overall picture. They play up the “China threat” theory to appeal to their own political base, Wang said.

After reviewing 45 years of historical experience since diplomatic relations were normalized, Wang said China and Japan should strengthen and develop the relationship based on three key words: trust, implementation and cooperation.

By trust, he meant mutual trust and honesty. The two sides should enhance mutual trust on the basis of four established documents and principled consensus, Wang said, adding that Japan should avoid being inconsistent in words and deeds, and honor its words with real actions in historical and Taiwan issues.

In terms of implementation, Wang urged the two sides to enforce important agreements to the letter.

Regarding cooperation, he expressed the hope that it will be pragmatic and innovative. The two sides should innovate models of economic and trade cooperation, explore feasible ways to collaborate under the framework of the “Belt and Road” initiative, and cement the cooperative bases in multiple fields like culture, media and youth exchanges to promote people-to-people friendliness. Japan should recognize the development trend of China and the times, making use of good opportunities presented by China’s growth, Wang said.

In his keynote speech, Tang Jiaxuan, former State Councilor and chairman of the China-Japan Friendly Association, pointed out that contradictions between China and Japan have begun to spill over in recent years, which can be seen in Japan’s attempts to contain China by hyping the South China Sea issue and others on international occasions as well as fierce competition in regional infrastructure construction.

Tang also called for efforts to deepen mutual trust, suggesting the two sides seize important opportunities this year and next to strengthen top-level design and high-level guidance, while maintaining communication and dialogue to avoid misunderstandings.

He said managing differences is vital to the long-term development of bilateral ties. Citing 2017 as a sensitive year for the 80th anniversary of Japan’s launch of full-scale aggression against China and the Nanjing Massacre, Tang said Japan should abide by the treaties between the two sides and deliver on its promises to properly handle issues related to history and Taiwan, which are the major issues of principle at the foundation of bilateral relations.

Moreover, Tang urged mutually beneficial economic and trade cooperation, noting that the “Belt and Road” initiative is a new platform and “test field” for China-Japan cooperation.
In addition, he said he had high hopes that friendly exchanges will have a warming effect between the two peoples, calling attention to increasing estrangement between the Chinese and the Japanese.

The two sides should perform more actual deeds to further mutual understanding and effectively bring the two peoples, particularly youth of the two nations, closer, Tang said. 
Pro-China politician Yohei Kono, also former speaker of the House of Representatives, president of the Liberal Democratic Party, and chairman of Japan’s Association for the Promotion of International Trade, reiterated in his keynote address that he adheres to the One China policy. He added that he hopes bilateral relations remain healthy and develop steadily.

Looking back on the history of China-Japan relations, Kono applauded leaders on both sides for steering bilateral relations onto a better course more than four decades ago. He appealed to the two peoples to stay true to the mission, carry forward the dream of the leaders who envisioned a friendship between China-Japan friendliness and strive to contribute to closer ties.


DENG ZHIMEI is a reporter at the Chinese Social Sciences Today.