China-Japan: A step towards rapprochement?

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Shinzo Abe will meet during a state visit to China, Xi Jinping.

Relations between the two nations in the last decade have been anything but friendly. Six years ago, the streets of the great Chinese metropolis had filled up with demonstrators to protest against the Japanese claims on the Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea, surrounding the Japanese embassy, ​​burning cars and attacking restaurants.

Eight years later, however, in the Trump era, things have changed, and China and Japan today have a much friendlier attitude.

According to Yu Tiejun, a Japanese expert at Peking University, they need each other. They must help themselves to respond to the uncertainties brought by the Trump administration in Asia.

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As we know, the two nations are strategic rivals in the Asian sector and have a common past that is not exactly peaceful behind them.

According to analysts, Abe’s three-day visit will be more important than the immediate results that appear to be rather modest.

Abe will be accompanied by about 500 Japanese businessmen, a sign that both sides want trade agreements, which have sunk between 2012 and 2014.

China is Japan’s main trading partner. Toyota plans to increase production in China by 20%, expanding industrial facilities in two major Chinese cities.

As a demonstration of the change in relations between the two countries, China and Japan have signed an agreement to work together on infrastructure projects in developing countries.

Distances despite everything remain. Japan does not want to be involved in the project of the New Silk Road, the ambitious Chinese bet to attract numerous Asian and African countries through its infrastructure unless international transparency standards are adopted, a spokesman for the Japanese government.

The Chinese projects in Malaysia and Sri Lanka, for example, have already attracted the wrath of their respective governments who accused China of burying them in debt. Furthermore, according to other analysts, the project would allow China to indirectly control some of the developing countries involved in the project, and not be able to face all the expenses necessary for the realization of infrastructure projects.

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Other distances also remain with regard to Myanmar, where Japan has built various infrastructures, while China has canceled the construction of a dam due to environmental problems.

Japan is also trying to position itself in the region as a counterweight to the Chinese. For example, last month, Japan participated in a series of military exercises in the South China Sea with Vietnam.

Also from the military point of view, an alliance between Japan, the United States, India, and Australia is being coagulated, an alliance known as “the quad”. The Trump administration has promoted the formation of this group of four democracies.

Image source: Wikimedia

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