Why did China and Japan break the ice?

Today, November 11, less than 7 days before the APEC Beijing Leaders’ Summit, the APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting and Ministers’ Meeting was held until the third day. China and Japan suddenly reached a consensus and reached a four-point principled consensus on handling and improving China-Japan relations. . After four years of stalemate between China and Japan, why did the sudden ice break occur? How did China and Japan consider it? Will China-Japan relations improve completely as a result? We analyze and explain this below.

Before analyzing, let’s take a look at the four-point principled consensus reached after the meeting between Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Japan’s National Security Director Shoutaro Yanai:

XNUMX. Both parties confirm that they will abide by the principles and spirits of the four political documents between China and Japan and continue to develop China-Japan strategic and mutually beneficial relations.

XNUMX. In the spirit of "face up to history and face the future," the two sides have reached consensus on overcoming political obstacles affecting bilateral relations.

XNUMX. The two sides recognize that there are different opinions surrounding the tension in the East China Sea such as the Diaoyu Islands in recent years, and agree to prevent the situation from worsening through dialogue and consultation, establish a crisis management and control mechanism, and avoid unexpected events.

XNUMX. The two sides agree to use various multilateral and bilateral channels to gradually restart political, diplomatic and security dialogues and strive to build political mutual trust.

We know that China has long been showing the bottom line in response to Japan’s constant demand for meetings between Chinese and Japanese leaders, namely: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe must stop visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, and the Abe government must admit that there is a dispute over the Diaoyu Islands. If Japan does not meet these two conditions, Sino-Japanese relations cannot be improved.

The Abe government has always turned a deaf ear to China's demands, only talking about it to speculate, but China is unmoved. Some time ago, Japan made a slight concession, proposed the conditions for the meeting between the leaders of China and Japan, and demanded the meeting between the leaders of China and Japan. The Chinese side once again refused and reiterated China's bottom line. That move has fully demonstrated the anxiety of the Abe administration. Before and after this, semi-official communication and exchanges between China and Japan have never stopped. Especially in Japan, the former prime minister has visited China many times in order to ease Sino-Japanese relations.

Before the APEC meeting, Japan had always been very anxious, and kept asking Chinese and Japanese leaders to meet. In the end, under pressure, on November 11, Sino-Japanese relations had a major change. For this change, we can see from the consensus on the four principles mentioned above that Japan has obviously made a fundamental concession and agreed to China's request. In other words, in the Sino-Japanese diplomatic war, Japan finally subordinated. From the above four consensus, we can see the sentence "Avoid unexpected events." This sentence has fully shown that China and Japan are on the verge of "events". This is also what Japan has been trying to improve China-Japan relations. One of the important reasons.

So why did the Abe government, which has always been rebellious, suddenly yield to the Chinese government? According to Zhanhao, there are three fundamental reasons:

XNUMX. China's strategic dominance of APEC poses tremendous strategic pressure on Japan.

At this APEC summit, almost all the voices of China, China’s strategy has echoed in the Asia-Pacific, and the entire Asia-Pacific strategy has entered the Chinese track (for related analysis, please refer to the content of Zhanhao WeChat yesterday, wx number: zhanhao668), which makes Japan both jealous and hate. But even more worried that if Japan continues to be isolated, it is likely to miss the strategic opportunity for Asia-Pacific integration. In particular, if China dominates the future direction of the Asia-Pacific, and Japan and China are antagonistic, relevant countries will naturally make some choices between China and Japan to avoid becoming passive in the future, which is very detrimental to Japan.

Just before the APEC summit, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank that China took the lead has basically established the direction of Asia's future economic development. This kind of dominance is no longer just a slogan, but a real force. During the establishment of the AIIB, the United States has been strongly opposed to it, but the opposition of the United States has not prevented the establishment of the AIIB. The United States can only prevent South Korea and Australia from participating in the AIIB. Even in this context, the United States is not only powerless against China's strategy, but must continue to improve relations with China. This result shows that the United States is obviously unable to contain China in the Asia-Pacific economic field. Under such circumstances, if Japan’s relations with China continue to deteriorate, it will continue to compress Japan’s political and economic activity space, which may mean losing the future to the weak Japanese economy. In this way, Japan believes that it is necessary to break the pattern of isolation in East Asia and make sufficient preparations for its own greater political and economic space for maneuvering. To achieve this, it is necessary to improve relations with China.

Considering that China has a clear bottom line, Japan has no room to exploit. The concession made by Japan at the last moment was the result of compelling reason and a decision after careful consideration.

XNUMX. Japan's diplomatic isolation has affected Japan's national strategic decision-making.

Since the Abe administration clearly began to follow the militarist line, Japan has been isolated by China, South Korea, and Russia. This isolation has the greatest impact on Japan due to the violent Sino-Japanese relations. The impact is not only economic, but also political. Today, Japan’s phased goal of lifting the ban on collective self-defense has been achieved, and there is still a long way to go before the constitutional amendment is realized. Under this circumstance, if the indifferent relationship between China and Japan continues, Japan’s political and economic leeway will be completely sealed. If so, politically, Japan can only obey the United States; economically, Japan can only obediently sign the TPP with the United States. However, Japan neither wants to completely obey the United States, nor does it want to sign a TPP that is not conducive to Japan's political and economic transfer. In this way, Japan must change its diplomatic isolation in its surrounding areas, especially its relations with China. Only by changing the surrounding diplomatic situation, can Japan have sufficient resistance to pressure against the United States, and can continue to hold back from signing the TPP with the United States, so as to avoid Japan's move to death and make itself a victim of the future Sino-US struggle.

Therefore, in essence, the easing of Sino-Japanese relations this time is a process for Japan to hedge the pressure from the United States and to gain more political and economic space for itself to prepare itself for a better position in the future.

XNUMX. The United States is forced to ease its relations with China under pressure to bring Japan an opportunity to ease its relations with China.

Since the antagonism between the United States and Russia, the United States has realized that US-Russian relations cannot be improved in the short term. The reason is that apart from the United States hurting Russia too deeply, the fundamental reason lies in its national strategy. If the United States wants to continue to promote its global hegemony strategy, it must take Syria and promote a new European-Russian Cold War. Against this background, Sino-US relations must be eased. Moreover, because the United States’ plan for Hong Kong’s "Occupy Central" has no actual effect at all, it has not caused any major negative impact on China. Even its ally is only the United Kingdom leaping to support it. If other countries don’t directly oppose it, they will just use their energy. Focus on the strategic opportunities of the APEC Beijing Summit. In this situation, the United States temporarily has nothing to do with China.

In addition, the Fed is likely to raise interest rates next year, and the United States hopes to ease relations with China. Because only by further promoting the easing of Sino-US relations, can Sino-US relations break down due to fundamental contradictions in 2015. The breakdown of Sino-US relations is a strategic loss for both China and the United States. This is the fundamental reason why the promotion of Sino-US relations is the consensus of the two countries. Based on this, it is necessary for both China and the United States to relax political relations before the Fed raises interest rates.

The background of the game relationship between China and the United States has captured the signal for Japan, which means that if Japan does not seize the time to ease relations with China at this time, once Sino-US relations deteriorate further next year, Japan will basically have no time window for improving relations with China. If so, if China and the United States wrestle, Japan must move to the forefront, and Japan may become a victim of the Sino-US wrestle. Japan hopes to profit from both sides of the Sino-US game, and naturally does not want to lose both sides. Therefore, in the time window of the APEC meeting, Japan retreated to the bottom line of China to improve relations with China in order to seize the opportunity of this time window.

So, how does China consider it?

What did China get?

For China, the choice is actually very easy. On the one hand, China cannot break the bottom line. This is neither in line with China’s strategic and practical interests nor in line with China’s diplomatic principles. China’s diplomacy is flexible, but the principles will not be broken. On the other hand, China’s bottom line is originally set. The bottom line is that if Japan really wants to improve relations, it can take a step back. If it is unwilling to retreat, it means that it lacks sincerity, and the improvement of relations without sincerity is useless to China. Therefore, China has a clear attitude towards Japan and is very calm.

Based on this clearness and calmness, if Japan chooses to improve relations with China, it will obviously benefit China. So why is China taking advantage of the trend to improve relations with Japan? There are three reasons:

XNUMX. China's strategic goals have been initially achieved.

In the past four years of Sino-Japanese struggle, China has set up an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea. The normalization of the Diaoyu Islands cruise has basically confirmed the actual control of the Diaoyu Islands. China's very calm entry and exit of the first island chain has made the first island chain nothing. So, in essence, China has got what it deserves at this stage. Now that the strategic goal has been achieved and Japan has taken the initiative to improve relations and meet China's conditions, of course it can be agreed. Further relaxation of Sino-Japanese relations will give the United States less opportunity to profit from it.

XNUMX. The easing of relations between China and Japan will help delay the US TPP strategy.

The TPP strategy is aimed at China and is a tool for the United States to isolate China. The most important part of this tool is Japan. Japan has signed the TPP agreement, the TPP integration process will be greatly accelerated; on the contrary, if Japan has been dragging, the TPP process will be difficult to advance.

Today, Japan's domestic and foreign affairs have determined that the Japanese government is under tremendous pressure. At this time, the United States will inevitably continue to exert pressure. Once Japan believes that it has been completely unable to improve relations with neighboring countries, it is entirely possible that Japan will be forced to sign the TPP under the pressure of the United States in the absence of hope. Under such circumstances, if Japan is willing to improve relations with China, it will inevitably yield. If Japan makes concessions, it means that it has the intention to continue to delay the TPP process. Japan's delay in the TPP agreement is very beneficial to China. Since Japan has retreated to China's bottom line and is clearly willing to improve relations, China will naturally follow the trend and do what is beneficial to itself.

Third, easing relations will help the implementation of China's grand strategy.

At this APEC meeting, China turned gorgeously and has become a rule maker and a leader in the regional economy. China has also incorporated China's national strategy for the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the Silk Road Economic Belt strategy into the APEC consensus. In this context, as long as other countries do not provoke China or challenge China's core interests, China is willing to cooperate with any country. Because such a cooperation process is the development process of China. In this context, Japan’s willingness to ease relations with China is in China’s strategic interests, and China is naturally happy to see it.

The future trend of China-Japan relations

So, can Sino-Japanese relations really be substantially improved due to this icebreaking? Zhanhao's view is that it is unlikely to go back to the past.

The current situation of China-Japan relations is like a stock that is in a downtrend, and there should be a technical rebound when it reaches the mid-term bottom. However, because the stock is still in a downtrend, the Sino-Japanese relationship cannot show a trend due to this ice breaking. Sexual change. In a sense, this is just an external force hole after the ice is sealed. We can see the water under the ice, but we cannot think that seeing the water under the ice means that spring is here. Based on this view, Zhanhao believes that it is impossible for China-Japan relations to undergo substantial improvement.

Taking into account the influence of Sino-US relations on Sino-Japanese relations and Japan’s positioning of itself between China and the United States, it is foreseeable that the future Sino-Japanese relations will fluctuate with the intensity of the Sino-US game, which will be due to the countries of China and Japan. The strategy adjusts and fluctuates. We can also foresee that once the Sino-US game requires Japan to stand in front of the stage and challenge China, Japan will not hesitate. By then, in order to continue to promote his militarist line, Abe will probably continue to consider visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, and at the same time will act as a watchdog and pawn for the United States' strategy to contain China.

Of course, Japan will not do it in vain. What Japan hopes to get back from the United States is to amend the peace constitution. What the United States wants is a younger brother who helps the United States manage the Asia-Pacific region, thereby reducing the pressure of the United States’ global hegemony. If the United States really needs it at that time, it is entirely possible that Japan will amend the Constitution as a condition, allowing Japan to play a more important role in its strategy of containing China. For China, it is China's consideration to seize the conflicting interests of the United States and Japan as much as possible, delay the process of integrating the United States and Japan and contain China, and buy more time for its own development. Because, the more time is pushed back, the more solid China's strategic layout is completed, and the more it has the ability to defeat and not be shaken by its opponents.

Therefore, the easing of Sino-Japanese relations this time is just a phased out of each other's needs. In the future, as long as they need to adjust, they may tear this consensus at any time and re-strike. As the so-called time has passed, a stage is the benefit of a stage. At this stage, each individual needs what he needs is the actual needs of each other. With Abe’s character, his compromise with China must be a stopgap measure (we have analyzed before that the prerequisite for the relaxation of Sino-Japanese relations is Abe compromise, but Abe’s militarist line is difficult to compromise. So, now Abe has compromised, fundamentally. The reason is not that Abe is convinced, but that it has other plans. Compromise is only a stopgap measure. For China, of course it is also a stopgap measure), and it cannot be too long. Therefore, China cannot delay its strategic preparations just because of the easing of Sino-Japanese relations. On the contrary, in addition to continuing to accelerate China's own great power strategy, China still has to speed up its preparations for war against Japan, so as to avoid a sharp deterioration in Sino-Japanese relations.

White Horse V Perspectivelogo-40x402