友人是在美韩裔第二代，外交官出身，驻过日本、澳大利亚和中国，会日语和汉语，现常在北京，是真正的日本通、中国通。他说，这次在日本期间，他觉得日本人看中国的态度发生了很大变化。过去日本人看中国，当然有很多疑虑和反感（suspicion and apprehension），但现在加多了愤怒（anger），普遍如此。
Japan-China relations stand at ground zero
BY YOICHI FUNABASHI
ASAHISHIMBUN EDITOR IN CHIEF
To my friend in China,
How did you enjoy this year’s China National Day?
I attended a party in Tokyo hosted by the Chinese ambassador to mark the occasion. It was a somewhat lonely affair as less than half of the number of Diet members attended compared with last year’s party. This was likely due to fallout from the recent row over the Senkaku Islands.
The reason I am writing to you today is because I have serious reservations about the way the Chinese government acted toward Japanover the incident involving a violation of territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands by a Chinese trawler, and especially, after the boat’s captain was arrested.
In Japan, public opinion has been highly critical of the governmentled by the Democratic Party of Japan, with its decisions described as “a national disgrace brought about through diplomatic defeat.”
Admittedly, many measures taken by the government were half-hearted,from the lack of any decision by prosecutors to indict the captain to the handling of a Japan Coast Guard video of the collision between thetrawler and two patrol vessels.
One cannot help but conclude that Japan is either still clumsy in itsdiplomatic efforts or simply a poor fighter. In comparison, the various measures taken by the Chinese government to apply pressure onJapan can only be described as a diplomatic “shock and awe” campaign.
However, my take on the incident is as follows:
The captain was arrested by Japanese authorities for allegedly
interfering with the duties of public officials. The incident
demonstrated that Japan had effective control over the Senkaku Islandsby carrying out legal procedures.
In addition, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton clearly statedthat any area under the administrative control of Japan would be covered by Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, whichobligates the United States to come to the defense of Japan.
That was a public acknowledgement to the world that the Senkaku
Islands were under the effective control of Japan.
On the other hand, China was able to publicly show to the world that”a territorial issue” does exist over the Senkaku Islands, inopposition to Japan repeatedly emphasizing that no territorial issue existed.
Viewed in this way, I believe this contest can be said to have ended in a draw.
Of course, I mean a draw in the sense that Japan and China were evenin the manner in which they both unexpectedly demonstrated how underdeveloped both of their diplomatic efforts were.
This summer when I visited the Shanghai World Expo 2010, I was struck by a visit to the China pavilion.
The panels on display presented a view that China’s modern history began in 1979 with the economic reform and open door policy. In otherwords, the past 30 years of economic development and the path to becoming an economic superpower were the genesis of modern China.
However, “China’s miracle” was made possible by the fact that theinternational environment surrounding China was one of peace and stability. There was no mention of that fact in the panels.
That international environment was fostered by the low-profile stancecalled for by the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (as well as the peaceful rise doctrine that was an extension of that stance) and thestabilizing power of the Japan-U.S. security alliance.
Including the Senkaku Islands issue, China has recently created tension with a number of neighboring maritime nations. This maritimeissue is the first critical test to the peaceful rise doctrine at itsvery roots.
A Chinese friend of mine, a successful entrepreneur, laughed about myconcern and said, “The peaceful rise concept was one that was taken when China’s standing was weak.”
If that is the case, what will be the principles China employs when itis in a stronger position?
Would it be the position discussed at the Central Economic Work
Conference held last winter of being “a superpower that does not haveresponsibility forced upon it?”
Of the questions I had which I mentioned earlier, the very firstpertains to this point.
The second question I have is about China’s maritime views.
If China tries to draw a maritime Maginot line of sorts, by turningthe waters of East Asia into its own “near sea,” treating it as surrounding waters and capturing it as a “core interest,” it couldlead to gaps within the Asia-Pacific region, which is a maritimecivilization.
At the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting in Hanoi in July, China founditself isolated as the foreign ministers of 12 nations expressed concerns about Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea. One can see this as an expression of the concerns about China’s maritime viewsheld by seafaring Asian nations.
The final question I have concerns the fact that China used economiccards in its retaliatory diplomacy against Japan.
One example is the virtual ban on exports of rare earth metals toJapan. Although Beijing denied any such ban had been imposed, there is no doubt that China used economics as a diplomatic tool, be it the rights to gas fields on the seabed of the East China Sea or the safetyof Japanese company employees.
It would be ironic and tragic if the export ban against Japan was thesalute to mark China passing Japan as the world’s second biggest economy.
Are the Chinese people aware of the extent to which distrust towardChina was triggered in not only Asia, but in the West as well, over China’s indiscriminate economic retaliatory measures?
What is difficult to fathom is why China does not do more to jointlyprotect and further foster the “liberal internationalist order” thathas brought so many benefits to China in terms of currency, trade andmaritime interests.
In your last e-mail, you asked how Japan’s views of China would changein the future.
There are still some uncertainties because the emotions of the peopleare still boiling over. However, if China continues to act as it has,we Japanese will be prepared to engage in a long, long struggle with China.
More specifically, it would involve the following:
Relations with China would have as the main objective the pursuit ofpractical benefits. That pursuit would remain unchanged.
However, we would have to take inventory of the dreams, ideals andpursuit of a frontier that Japan held about China after World War II, and especially after diplomatic relations were normalized.
Japan would discard its naivete, lower its expectations, acquireneeded insurance and, in some cases, cut its losses.
China would be treated with respect and moderation. A plain and
ordinary level of exchange would be considered acceptable.
However, Japan would not hold on tothe fantasy of creating a
”mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic
interests.”Japan would be prepared to deal with China with bitter resolve tingedwith a form of resignation.
This would also apply to how Japan relates with Taiwan.
In protest of the captain’s arrest, a fishing boat carrying Taiwaneseactivists entered the waters near the Senkaku Islands. The Taiwanese government dispatched 12 coast guard ships as an escort.
While the ship had to turn around after being stopped by the JapanCoast Guard, the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry issued a statement in protest that said, “Japanese ships interfered with the fishing boatand confronted Taiwan coast guard ships.”
The expression of protest against Japan was nothing more than playingwith a political fire. Taiwan is emerging as a new risk factor in the Japan-China relationship.
Last week, I was interviewed by the Japan correspondent for a U.S.public broadcasting radio network.
The first question she asked was, “For Japan, is the Senkaku shockbigger than the Nixon shocks?”
She was referring to the shocks in the summer of 1971 when U.S. President Richard Nixon unilaterally declared a normalization ofrelations with China (without Japan’s knowledge) and stopped goldconvertibility of the dollar (which led to a huge appreciation of the yen).
My reply was, “It will be much bigger.”
Problems that arise between Japan and the United States can, in theend, be resolved within the framework of the alliance. The alliance is the ballast.
However, that cannot be said of the Japan-China relationship.
There is always the danger it will roll completely out of control dueto even the slightest accident.
It was obvious that a mutually beneficial relationship based on commonstrategic interests simply did not function.
That was nothing more than rhetoric.
The hot-line between leaders of the two nations also did not operateat the most crucial moment.
Five years ago when violent anti-Japan protests occurred throughoutChina, I offered a pessimistic view of the future of Japan-Chinarelations.
I remember you chided me by saying that journalists are pessimists by trade.
However, compared to those protests,I feel the hubris of an emergingsuperpower out of China now.
A meeting in Brussels between Prime Minister Naoto Kan and ChinesePremier Wen Jiabao, even if only for 25 minutes, is a first step toescape the “anomaly” that the Japan-China relationship has entered.
However, Japan and China now stand at ground zero, and the landscapeis a bleak, vast nothingness.
I apologize for any displeasure you may have felt from my letter.