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Huanqiu Editorial: Japan Should Cherish the Opportunity for Sino-Japanese Leaders to Meet

Huanqiu (Global Times) published an editorial article following the meeting between China and Japan’s top leaders, Xi Jinping and Shinzo Abe, at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou. The editorial criticized Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe quite harshly.

The article said, “Since Abe began serving as prime minister more than three years ago, the Sino-Japanese relationship has “completely cooled down.” The bilateral relations have not been able to improve. The fundamental reason lies in the lack of genuine sincerity on the Japanese side, often saying one thing and doing another. Confrontation with China has almost become the full principle of Japan’s diplomacy. Anything that China supports, Japan will oppose. Many Chinese people have developed this impression. Chinese public opinion has thus gradually lost confidence and interest in improving Sino-Japanese relations.”

“At the press conference held on the evening of September 5, Abe talked lavishly about the South China Sea. In Hangzhou, he was probably the only one of the 20 leaders to talk so much in public about the South China Sea.

“Chinese people’s attitude toward Abe is that they will probably only “listen to his words and observe his deeds.” Abe seems to have a lot of ideas about China. He may also have a number of contradictory feelings about the United States, but he dares not release them to the United States. He has probably moved those attitudes toward China to a certain extent. While, on the one hand, he seems really eager to reduce Sino-Japanese tensions; on the one hand, he is deliberately confrontational with China.

“For example, Japan often jumps even higher than the United States over the South China Sea issue; it is even more radical than the Philippines and Vietnam. Even though the South China Sea is an important trade route for Japan, this does not make sense. The South China Sea is also important to Korea. Japan seems to feel secure only if the U.S.-Japan joint military has full control of the South China Sea.

“The Japan-U.S. alliance is one of the biggest security challenges for China. Tokyo has tried very hard to expand its influence on this factor. It gives no consideration to the negative feelings it bears toward China. Tokyo also advocated the separation of the political and the economic, meaning that China should accept its willful acts on the political and security aspects while ensuring its economic interests without any damage.

“China and Japan have jointly defined a ‘strategic and mutually beneficial relationship.’ Japan now seems to express this concept just verbally, but really seems not to have any thoughts about the ‘strategic and mutually beneficial’ relationship with China. It adjusted its relations with China to have trade and economic and cultural exchanges on policies, but strategically plays a zero-sum game against China.

“According to Japan’s Kyodo News, the Japanese government stakeholders involved in designing the strategy toward China have expressed that ‘in today’s Japan-China relations, it is a pass if conflict can be avoided.’ A lot of Chinese scholars also have the same concern and are indeed not optimistic about the Sino-Japanese relationship.

“A Meeting of Heads of State usually plays an important role in resolving conflicts and expanding mutual goodwill. Abe always asks to meet Chinese leaders. I hope he cherishes every such meeting. If it is caught in the vicious circle of ‘the worse it is, the more talk, and the more talk the worse,’ then Beijing may not have time to accompany Tokyo to play.”

Source: Huanqiu, September 6, 2016