There are more prospects for cooperation in Sino-Japanese relations today than ever before.

There are more prospects for cooperation in Sino-Japanese relations today than ever before.


Sino-Japanese relations have been rather strained since the late 1880s, when Japan first invaded China, such as the invasion of Manchuria in the early 1990s to the World War Two atrocities Japan committed on China, including the infamous Nanking Massacre. Even though these happen in the past, there still exists a tainted historical legacy between the two countries, where Japan refuses to admit its wrongdoings and apologize. Prospects for cooperation have been low in the past, where the Chinese despised the Japanese and were less receptive towards Japanese goods and vice versa. However, in the present, there are more prospects than before as China becomes a more significant economic power on the global stage and its efforts in global security.  However, there are also many other areas that serve as a source of conflict and have no prospects for cooperation, such as historical legacy affecting the present and future politics, territorial disputes and the issue of Taiwan.


  • Economic Cooperation

Economic relations between both countries have deepened significantly due to China and Japan’s economic interdependence. As China’s economy continues to grow, hitting a double digit growth in GDP, it has allowed for greater trading opportunities with Japan being China’s 3rd largest trading partner as of 2015. Furthermore, it is only with Japan’s assistance in China’s development by providing Official Development Aid (ODA) since the 1980s and the provision of a 3 trillion yen loan aid, that Deng’s economic reforms became so successful. In return, China allowed for the penetration of Japanese goods into its large market that would do well for Japan’s economy. Compared to the 1960s whereby Japanese products were not seen, or even boycotted in some Chinese cities due to despise of the Japanese after WWII. Today, Chinese leaders and the people understand that Japan provides many economic opportunities and so are pragmatic in their mindsets, as can be seen with the increased number of Japanese products and technologically advanced companies that can now be found in China. This also shows us that there are many more prospects for economic cooperation than in the past.


  • Cooperation in global security

As China rises to become a global power, there are greater prospects for cooperation of the two countries in global security, more so than in the past. Both China and Japan are avid participants in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions by sending soldiers and police to troubled areas in the world like Cambodia and Golan Heights during times of rioting. Both countries also contribute to the UN Peacekeeping budget, where Japan contributes 9.68% and China contributes 10.29% as part of them accepting ‘Great Power’ responsibilities as of 2016. This participation in peacekeeping missions and commitment to global security can be a platform for cooperation between the two countries, which was not possible in the past where China was an isolationist state under Mao, until the 1980s where Deng Xiaoping opened China’s doors to the world. These opportunities were also made possible because China is increasingly becoming a global power, which was not so in the past. An instance of both China and Japan participating in ensuring global security would be the Six-Party Talks, where both countries, along with South Korea, USA and Russia try to convince North Korea to pursue a policy of nuclear disarmament and to stop its provocative attacks on South Korea. Hence, because of the great power status of both countries, which were not the case for China in the past, China and Japan have prospects for cooperation in global security issues.


  • Historical animosities

Historical animosities still affect Sino-Japanese relations even up till today. The frequent visits to the Yasukuni Shrine by some Japanese premiers, notably Junichiro Koizumi has infuriated many in China. Given the fact that the shrine is dedicated to spirits of many high ranking Japanese officers whom had carried out war crimes, the act of visiting the shrine by the Japanese can be seen as utter disrespect to the people in China. This situation is further exacerbated by Japanese reluctance to accept full responsibility for initiating the invasion of China since 1931 through the revision of textbooks and the denial of the Nanking Massacre against the Chinese. On the other hand, the history books and education syllabus in China continue to remind younger Chinese of their forefathers’ sufferings under the Japanese invasion. Hence, these conflicting views with regards to the past conflicts by both countries caused them both to have emotional baggage and inevitably affecting bilateral relations between China and Japan as neither of them were willing to look pass these differences.


  • Territorial disputes

Territorial disputes between the two countries also serve as a source of conflict, hindering Sino-Japan cooperation. For instance, a long standing territorial dispute between the two countries is that of the Senkaku or Diaoyu islands, which the Japanese and Chinese call respectively. On one hand, Japan claims that these islands came under US trusteeship and were returned to Japan in 1971 under the Okinawa reversion deal whereby China did not object to then. Whereas, China, on the other hand, claims that these islands have been part of its territory since ancient times, serving as important fishing grounds administered by the province of Taiwan. As both sides are unwilling to compromise, these islands still remain disputed till today. These territorial disputes can result in diplomatic issues and possible sources of direct conflict, which would hinder the relationship between the two countries. This can be seen whereby dozens of Chinese vessels were spotted patrolling these disputed islands near the East China Sea despite the international court’s decision to reject China’s historic claims to most of the sea in 2016. This shows how China has refused to recognize the court ruling on this case, triggering diplomatic conflicts and hindering the relationship between the two countries.


  • Taiwan Issue

Taiwan has been a long standing irritant in the Sino-Japanese relationship. Having been under China’s rule before, Japan is sympathetic to the Taiwanese independence cause and even though it does not out rightly support Taiwanese independence, it does have a non-governmental office in Taiwan to conduct non-diplomatic activities. Taiwan has also taken efforts to court Japan as it sees Japan as a valuable ally in the event of a conflict with China. Hence, Japan’s apparent sympathy for Taiwan’s independence cause can threaten Sino-Japanese relations as China might show disagreement towards Japan’s actions.

In conclusion, despite there being more platforms for cooperation in Sino-Japanese relations, these prospects are not properly utilized for maximum cooperation, resulting in more conflicts occurring that hinder prospects for cooperation.


Assess the view that China and the United States will never see eye to eye in any aspects.

Assess the view that China and the United States will never see eye to eye in any aspects.

Since the early 1990s, Sino-US relations have followed an uneven course, with modest improvements overshadowed by various recurring difficulties. Among others, bilateral difficulties have included US problems with the China’s worsening human rights record, growing tensions over Taiwan’s status and differing views regarding its fight against terrorism. However in certain aspects China and the United States have seen greater cooperation such as economic cooperation and cooperation on the North Korean Nuclear Crisis.


  • Human Rights Issue

Disputes in human rights issues is one of the reasons why China and the US will never see eye to eye. USA’s Non-Governmental Organization’s (NGO), media and the government are critical of the Chinese government treatment of dissidents, religious groups, ethnic minorities, workers, accused criminals, prisoners, and married people contemplating having more than one child, among other issues. With the rise of human rights movement and human rights diplomacy that is occurring in the US, it conflicts with China’s domestic policies which USA claims to violate internationally recognized human rights. The event that fixed human rights as a core Sino-US issue was the Tiananmen Incident. Since then, USA has been on the offensive at both the non-governmental and governmental levels in criticizing China’s human rights violations. Policy instruments included public shaming, quiet shaming, quiet diplomacy, threats of trade sanctions and efforts to have China criticized at the annual meeting of the United Nations Human Rights commission in Geneva. This led to the worsening of bilateral relations which still remains as a major obstacle today. A recent example would be the case of Chen Guang Cheng, an activist lawyer who fled from house arrest and sought political asylum in the USA in 2012, thus straining relations between the two parties. Although in 2015, the USA eventually gave in and pressured him to return to China, former US support for him was seen to be outright meddling in the international affairs of the Chinese state.


  • Taiwan Issue

The Taiwan issue is another reason as to why China and the US will never see eye to eye. For centuries, the concept of “One China”, China’s proper governance under a single authority has been imbibed in the minds of the generations of the Chinese and many still believe that Taiwan should reunify with China someday. Prior to the establishment of official Sino-US relations, China had evidently set the “3 No’s” policy as a prerequisite for the establishment of official Sino-US relations in 1979. While the US is opposed to the independence of Taiwan as part of its “3 No’s” policy, it continues to have good non-official relations with Taiwan and this traditional US support for Taiwan has always been a source of insecurity for China as it may possibly thwart opportunities for reunification. With USA’s continued military sales to Taiwan for its defence, as well as the possibility of extending its Theatre Missile Defense (TMD) strategy to Taiwan, this heightened China’s concern with regards to USA’s support for Taiwan as it may possibly promote an independent Taiwan policy given USA’s pro-democratic nature, threatening China’s territorial integrity. Therefore, the issue of Taiwan remains at the core of problems in the Sino-US relations today.


  • Differing views regarding the fight against terrorism

The differing views between both countries about the fight against terrorism also shows how China and the USA may possibly never see eye to eye. Despite both countries being determined to tackle global terrorism in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center in 2001, in recent years, China has seen a complete shift in this outlook with the number of uprising in the region of Tibet and Xinjiang, China has instead used its anti-terrorism campaign in these Muslim-majority areas like Xinjiang. This has led to the US questioning China’s lack of transparency on such campaigns on incidents China claims as acts of “terrorism” by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) in 2016. In mitigation, China states that USA was making baseless reports about counter-terrorism policies in their country. As such, what used to be an opportunity for Sino-US cooperation has led to mistrusts and doubts, preventing China and the US from ever seeing eye to eye.

  • Economic Disagreements

China’s unethical economic practices also prevents China and the US from ever seeing eye to eye. This is due to their close ties that China’s economic practices have negatively affected the US’s economy. The trade surplus favoring China meant that more than ¼ of US total trade deficit was with them and this allowed China to hold a considerable leverage over the US in the economic area. While the US sought to correct the trade imbalance with greater access to the Chinese market and more favorable terms of trade, China wanted to maintain the status quo so as to continue benefiting from the trade imbalance in its favor. This has inevitably led to severe consequences on USA’s side whereby as of 2015, its trade deficit with China was $365.7 billion, a new record compared to 2014’s record of $343 billion. As such, this “undervaluation” of the Renminbi (RMB) also made it a “currency manipulator” in the eyes of many US citizens. Furthermore, while this made Chinese exports more competitive which benefits them, it prevented free competition between them and US producers. At the same time, the undervaluation of the RMB also had the side effect of deterring other Asian countries from appreciating their currencies for fear of losing their competitiveness. Thus, bringing about much domestic dissatisfaction and pressure to rectify the trade imbalances with China. Thus, economic disagreements between both countries effectively prevents them from ever seeing eye to eye as neither is willing to compromise on their part.


  • Economic Cooperation

With China becoming the 2nd largest economy in the world, China’s relationship with the US had changed for the better, allowing China to see eye to eye with the US through economic cooperation such as trading. Trading not only ties states closer together because of shared economic interests, but also breeds contracts between regions, cities and individuals. These are much deeper connections than the political relationship on the surface. While the US congress sputters about the need to ‘punish’ China supposed transgressions, the individual states have been pushing China to invest in places as politically and geographically far such as Illinois and South Carolina and China did. Therefore, China and the US are able to see eye to eye due to its economic cooperation, although possibly being done out of political interests, it inevitably still allowed for both sides to reach a consensus.

  • Cooperation in the North Korea Nuclear Crisis

The issue of the North Korean Nuclear Crisis has allowed for China and the US to see eye to eye. With regards to North Korea amassing nuclear weapons, it has led to the possibility of a nuclear war in recent years. This have brought about greater cooperation between China and US during the annual UN General Assembly of 2016 whereby China supports closer cooperation in the UN Security Council and in enforcement efforts to halt North Korea’s nuclear program. Furthermore, the participation in the Six-Party talks between China and the US have allowed for greater cooperation due to their common goal of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. On one hand, it is important for the US to maintain good diplomatic relations with China, an ally of North Korea whom it holds significant influence over in order to put North Korea in their discussions through China. Whereas, China on the other hand, prioritizes good relations with the USA to have a form of leverage over its regional allies. Therefore in such cases, both China and the US can be said to see eye to eye given their common goals.


In conclusion, it is evident that both countries in most cases are unable to see eye to eye on many issues. Even though it is known that there are concessions being made, these concessions are merely minor ones because the main objective of both countries is to achieve what is best for their national interest through competition and rivalry, therefore resulting in minor compromises only. The challenges faced in maintaining Sino-US relations are numerous and are certainly all important in shaping ties between the two parties.

To what extent is China’s rise as a global power ‘peaceful’?

To what extent is China’s rise as a global power ‘peaceful’?

Since Deng XiaoPing opened China’s doors to the world in the 1980s and following the end of the cold war, China’s economy has been progressing growing and in its interaction with the world. China seeks to be one of the poles in this predominantly uni-polar world dominated by the US, even though this trend is changing. China does intend to rise peacefully as a global power and is trying to convince nations who may feel threatened that China is not a threat. This can be seen in China’s ‘grand strategy’, which is to firstly, get involved in multilateralism to prevent bandwagoning of others against it, culture strong bilateral ties to prevent countries from questioning its domestic actions, take up great power responsibilities and lastly, challenge great power politics using globalization and not through forceful means. As such, to a large extent, China’s rise is considerably peaceful, although China sometimes choose forceful means over diplomacy to champion its interest and China’s rising military creates a ‘China Threat Theory’ viewed by countries.


  • Getting involved in Multilateralism

China is increasingly getting involved in active multilateralism to convince other countries about its peaceful rise. From Mao to Deng, even though both leaders had wanted to establish China as a global power, their approaches were starkly different. Mao tried to court the Third World by promoting Chinese ideology but shunned most of the international community for fear of imperialism, resulting in China’s isolation. Deng, on the other hand, courted the international organizations that China joined, increasing drastically from 2 in 1978 to 83 in 2000. This holds testimony to China’s commitment to show her peaceful rise through getting more engaged in the international community. Several of the prominent organizations China is part of includes the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations (UN), where China is a permanent member of the Security Council, and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). One might argue that even though China is a member of these organizations, membership does not reflect active participation, as can be seen from China’s constant abstinence with regards to decisions of the UN Security Council. However, China does show active participation in other organizations like the ARF and especially the WTO, where China is a key member because of its booming economy. Moreover, China’s actions in the UN Security Council can be accountable in that China has a different set of principles as compared to the world in general which tends to follow western principles and China highly regards territorial integrity and non-interference, sometimes even more so than human rights, which the western societies place emphasis on. Hence, China is willing to make compromises on its principles to take a seat in the UN Security Council, sometimes having to watch invasion of other countries like the invasion of Kuwait by NATO in 2003 despite having abstained on its vote, thus showing that China is indeed genuinely interested in assimilating into the international community and multilateral organizations despite having different principles. Hence, China’s rise as a global power can be seen as a peaceful, where China is engaging the world diplomatically.


  • Culturing stronger bilateral activities

China is also increasingly culturing stronger bilateral ties with many other countries to show its intent on peacefully rising and to hopefully hinder others from criticizing its domestic affairs. This can be seen where China is now the largest trading partner of many countries such as Korea, Japan, India, Vietnam, and Africa as a continent and the second largest trading partner of the USA. China, especially in recent years has also been engaging in several other countries in visits of important ministers such as welcoming the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to visit in 2011. China has also engaged USA and Japan together in Trilateral Talks since 2008 and the most recent being held in 2015. This is significant as these are the three largest economy in the world and their cooperation would greatly benefit the global process. These examples show that China is taking efforts to rise peacefully, engaging many countries to assure them of its peaceful rise. Undoubtedly, some risks are being taken by China such as in the US-Japan-China Trilateral Talks where USA and Japan are close allies and might cooperate against Chinese interests, placing China at a loss. Hence, China is willing to take risks to prove to the world that it is bent on peacefully rising ass a global power.


  • Take up great power responsibilities

In addition, China is taking up great power responsibilities to show that it is willing and capable to take on the burdens of global leadership. China wants to show that it aims to become a global power not through the use of force to establish hegemony but through meeting the expectations the world has of a global power. This can be seen where China contributes more soldiers and police to UN Peacekeeping missions than USA, Japan or Russia, and where China is an integral member of the six party talks to persuade North Korea to disarm its nuclear weapons and to stop its provocative attacks on the South. Moreover, China contributes 10.29% to the UN Peacekeeping budget and this shows that even though China is not ready to individually foot the heavy burden of global leadership, it is taking efforts to through its actions as a global leader. China’s current approach may be seen as different from the past, where Mao tried to become a global power through attempting to sell China’s ideology to go against the world order at that time. Today, China is meeting the expectations the world has of a global power and so is attempting to rise peacefully.


  • Challenge great power politics using globalization and not force

China is also attempting to challenge great power politics using globalization instead of force. This is seen where China is increasingly leading in many global multilateral organizations that do not involve Western powers, decreasing the power of western powers on the world in doing so. This is seen especially in the BRICS, consisting of the world’s largest growing developing countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. China is playing a key role in these organizations, where China hosted the first meeting in 2011, chaired by President Hu Jintao. This is significant as China is establishing itself as an alternate leader of the world, in place of traditional western powers and is displacing the power of the USA not by force but through multilateral means. Another significant cooperation is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) involving China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to promote economic cooperation and prevent terrorism in the region. In the SCO, China is also taking a leadership role as the organization was established by China in the first place. In a way, China’s current actions reflect what Mao failed to do, in terms of creating an alternate locus of power in the world. However, China is not directly challenging the power of the traditional Western powers like the USA as it is not entirely ready to take up the costly burdens of global leadership and that USA dominance in the world also allows China to focus on its domestic economic growth, which is its utmost priority at this point in time.


  • China’s growing military strength

However, China may pose as a threat to other nations especially because of its growing military strength and cause them to think of China’s rise as threatening instead of peaceful. Indeed, these countries do have a reason to fear, as China’s military is growing at an astounding rate especially in recent years. In the past 10 years, China’s defense budget has increased more than four times, the latest increase being 10.1% in 2015. Moreover, China is currently developing its naval capabilities and also in 2011, have revealed to the world about its development of the stealth fighter plane, something that only the USA, the strongest military in the world, possesses. This causes fear to other countries as even though China claims time and time again that its military is solely for the purpose of self defense, naval capabilities and the stealth fighter are mainly for offensive purposes and this lead countries to think that China’s rise may not be peaceful. Even the USA is cautious of China’s rise, with USA’s ex-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates quoted as saying that China’s military is by far the only military in the world that has the potential to challenge the US military, which has for many years remained unchallenged. Hence, with China’s growing military and offensive capabilities, other countries are increasingly convinced and worried that China’s rise as a global power may not be peaceful and it might resort to using force if necessary.


  • Territorial Assertions

Coupled with China’s military build-up, China has been flexing its military muscle to express its interests, particularly in the area of territorial integrity. As mentioned earlier, China places its territorial integrity above human rights and this shows the emphasis that China places on its territory. The most notable example would be that of the South China Sea crisis, where China claims the entire sea as its own territory and is challenging other claimant countries, especially Vietnam and the Philippines. China has stated that it views military strength as the primary guarantee of its interests while diplomacy is only secondary and so has denied the internationalization or any form of diplomacy over the South China Sea disputes. China has also used force to establish its interests, as can be seen where a Chinese ship severed the cables on a Vietnamese exploration vessel, causing much dispute with the Vietnamese. This shows that despite all the efforts China is putting in to show its peaceful rise to the world, there are some areas which the Chinese refuse to compromise on and would use force if necessary, especially with regard to its territorial integrity.
In conclusion, even though China’s rise may be viewed as a threat due to its rising military and territorial assertions, these trends are changing and coupled with China’s other actions following its grand strategy, it is to a large extent that China’s rise as a global power is peaceful.