China Makes Nice to Nippon
China Seeks to Woo Japan Away from the US-India Japan Alliance

Witnessing the rise of a US led alliance system, China is talking politely to Japan.

Contact Editor
Amiel Ungar,

Yoshihiko Noda
Yoshihiko Noda

The delayed summit between Japan and China now has the issue of of North Korea to deal with, an issue which is of paramount importance to Japan.

The visit by Japanese Prime Minister Yushihiko Noda was scheduled to commemorate 40 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and the People's Republic of China. That decision followed the reestablishment of high-level contacts between the United States and China by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. Once the US gave the green light,  Japan quickly followed and leapfrogged the US.

From the tone in the official Chinese press, it appears that China will try to improve relations with Japan and laments the fact that despite the important trade relations between the countries, public opinion in China and Japan regards the other country with distrust. Only 28.6% of Chinese respondents have a good opinion of Japan, a drop of 10 percentage points from 2010, while the percentage of Japanese people who view China favorably is down to 20.8, a decline of 6.5% from 2010.

This decline is significant, because the comparison measures the timeframe 2010-2012 essentially paralleling the period that the Japan Democratic Party has been in power. During its long time in opposition, the party was considered more China-friendly than the ruling Liberal Democrat cabinets.

If on previous occasions the official Chinese press would cast all the blame on Japan, this time such criticism was extremely muted and almost nonexistent. The official Chinese agency Xinhua noted that a Japanese warship docked in the eastern port city of Qingdao earlier this week, in a signal that military ties could be warming.

China is well aware that Japan has drawn closer to the United States as well as to India. Japan may soon integrate into the US weapons procurement system.

Japanese Prime Minister Yushihiko Noda will review the trilateral agenda next week with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh. This would include increased trade, but also collaboration on rare earths, an issue where China has sought to apply pressure on its trading partners.

After US President Barack Obama called Japan a cornerstone of US diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific, the Chinese also have produced bouquets for the visiting Japanese leader. Facts also show that China cannot realize its aspirations for peaceful development and building of an all-round, well-off society without a stable international environment. This is especially true in Eastand Southeast Asia and the wider Asia-Pacific region, in all of which Japan plays a very important role."

The Sino-Japanese talks will also include common exploitation of gas and oil in the East China Sea. Perhaps by dangling the prospects of mutual exploration, China hopes to wean Japan away from the alliance in Southeast Asia, opposing Chinese claims on the territorial sea. "