Despite the recent stagnancy in China and Japan relations, the countries have continually shown close cooperation due to economic reliance between the two countries. However, it seems that the chilliness regarding the two countries relations is not going to not end soon. This is because of the continued uncertainty regarding people-to-people relations and political relations. In addition, the countries relations are strained security-wise, which is blamed on the close relationship between Japan and the United States of America, something that China does not condone. These strained relations are seeing to remain the same in the near future.
The following pages examine the recent trends in politics, security, people-to-people relations and economic relations between the two countries. It is established that the countries have continued to maintain strong economic ties despite their changing economic prowess. Armstrong (2007) asserts that the economic prowess of the two countries has changed from time to time as China used to flourish economically before it was overtaken by Japan, and then China took over again. However, China played a crucial role in the restoration of Japan’s prowess in economy as it facilitated the exports to the country in 2008. The relationship between the two countries have been described as hot in the economic perspective and cold politically. Such political rivalry has developed from the 2nd World War as Japan keeps denying its wartime past to the satisfaction of Japan. Security-wise, the relationship between China and Japan has been unsteady. This is blamed mainly on the looming military conflict that results because of territorial and maritime issues. This is a significant issue that, researchers assert, can have an effect on the United States (Calder, 2006).
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According to Yuqing (2008), currently, China forms the largest export market for Japan. This abounds from the recent Japan External Trade Organization, which indicates that this resulted because of a decline in shipments to the United States; thus, propelling Japan’s exports to China. In addition, reports indicate that China has a good market for its products in Japan, and it is undoubtedly the largest exporter to the country. However, it should not be assumed that the economic relationship between the countries has always been that smooth. Yuqing (2008) indicates that Japan has had trade deficits with China severally. Despite that, China did not factor the matter much and resorted not to apply protective measures against imports from Japan. In addition, Japanese politicians and business community have not commented on China’s exchange rate regime. In order to solidify their economic relations, Japan specifically engaged in outsourcing and FDI from Chinese firms. This is a move projected to benefit both Japanese MNEs and Chinese firms as the former benefits in terms of cheap labor while the latter utilizes brand names and global marketing networks. Thus, it can be asserted that the two countries are drawing closer trade-wise, which emanates from China’s rise in its growth rate. This is because China significantly depends on energy from Japan as they have consented to a cooperation in environmental protection and energy technologies. However, there is a notable conflict that is projected to cause a stalemate in trade relations between China and Japan. The conflict threatening the trade between the two countries centers on sovereignty of Diaoyu/Senkaku island. Another dispute centers on China’s attempt to explore oil in East China Seas. This is a notable conflict because the two countries differ regarding the ownership of the seas (Calder, 2006). However, experts project an increased Sino-Japanese economic relationship in the future as the two countries depend on each other significantly. The experts’ arguments draw from history and the change of trends regarding how the two countries have been trading. Experts assert that the bilateral trade between the two countries has soared to $236.6 billion, which is an equivalent of 17.7% of the Japanese external trade (Yuqing, 2008).
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Sino-Japanese political relations have been a paramount concern to many countries for a long time. Thus, Lam (2006) asserts that the relationship between the two countries has recently deteriorated to alarming levels. This began during the Koizumi Junichiro administration. The main reason why the relationship between the countries deteriorated is the fact that Koizumi, the then Prime Minister of China constantly visited a shrine to pay homage to Japanese war criminals. Another reason for the scuffle is that former politicians denied the existence of the Nanjing Massacre. More recent squabbles arose from the fact that the two countries are still fighting over the ownership of the Senkanku islands, which are located near Okinawa. Calder (2006) opines that no attempt is geared towards the restoration of the stalemate between these countries as Japan has adapted to cold politics and hot economy. This indicates that Japan cannot afford to lose China as a trading partner at the same time they want to assert themselves politically. Thus, the recent economic trends are difficult to predict in the context of the coming years. However, Armstrong (2007) affirms that the two countries will have to rethink their political positions if they want to continue to prosper in the future. Particularly, he cites Japan, which is the receiving end from China, that it has to consent to some accusations if it wants China to continue trading with it. China is predicted to advance a trade barrier in order to make Japan abide some of its demands.
In the recent years, China and Japan have been struggling to get along in terms of security issues. The American-brokered bilateral alliance after World War II has been trying to keep the two countries in a cooperative form for a long period up to the past few years. In the recent years, China has blamed Japan for altering some of the responsibilities and duties of the security agreement hence making it difficult for China to achieve some of its priorities. Japan has also been involved in closer ties with the US hence raising concerns from the Chinese government, which thinks Japan is plotting against its development and security. Therefore, security developments have been mostly moving to the negative side as mistrust develops between China and Japan. Bush (2010) reiterates that the conflict over Senkaku islands has escalated in the recent years hence increasing the level of security strains between these two countries. Observers assert that this could lead to a military conflict between China and Japan. This is deemed extremely serious compared to the past wars between China and Japan. Thus, China and Japan are moving apart in terms of security as the level of conflicts and mistrust rises.
The notable current security dispute existing between China and Japan is the conflict over Senkaku islands. Each of these countries wants to acquire the sovereignty of these islands. Yan Xeutong, a leading Chinese foreign policy strategist, asserts that there is a potential military conflict looming between China and Japan in case, the conflict is not resolved effectively. Faure (2010) opines that the two countries have tried to negotiate over the issue, but they appear not to be agreeing. Neither Japan nor China is willing to make a concession. The two countries have tried to ensure the issue is resolved peacefully, but the level of mistrust existing between them still haunts the process of effective and peaceful resolution.
It is worth noting that the current trends suggest strained relationships in the future. The continued association of Japan and the United States of America makes matters worse as the China believes that these relationships are meant to promote anti-China principles. In case if the conflict related to the establishment of sovereignty over Senkaku islands is not resolved in time, security relationships between China and Japan will continue worsening.. Therefore, the future security relationships between China and Japan may be worse as conflicts continue arising each day.
The Chinese have played a significant role in influencing the Japanese people and their culture over many years. Rose (2012) affirms that increasing conflicts over the recent years have been a significant threat to the people-to-people relations in both countries. The level of security has been declining as people in both countries protest against each other. For instance, the conflict over the Senkaku islands has led to conflicts in most Chinese cities leading to the burning of Japanese cars and businesses. This is an indication of declining relationships between the people of China and Japan. Additionally, a Japanese man was injured in Shanghai when hot noodles were thrown on his face. All these are indications of ebbing relationships between the people of China and Japan. The key cause of this is the conflict over Senkaku Island between the government of China and the government of Japan. With all these issues in consideration, it can be seen that relationships between the Chinese and Japanese are caused by mistrust brought about by political conflicts. They seem not to trust each other at the wake of each day.
There is immense friction between the dwindling relationships between the Chinese and Japanese. These issues are being addressed through effective solution of the political conflict affecting both countries and encouraging the citizens of both countries to live in a peaceful manner. These conflicts are also been solved through encouraging cultural interactions between these two countries. People are being encouraged to continue sharing their cultures and other aspects as they had done in the past.
In line with the current trends, the people-to-people relationships among the Chinese and Japanese may get worse as time moves on. In cases where the existing conflicts especially those relating to the Senkaku Islands are not resolved, people will continue protesting and spoiling property and the lives of others. For instance, the Chinese would continue their protests against the Japanese in cities such as Shanghai; thus, straining their relationships. There is a high level of optimism that relationships would continue improving. Chinese students would continue studying in Japan while Japanese students would live in China and be provided good accommodation. Thus, the future of people-to-people relationships is bright and will be gradually improved.
In conclusion, China and Japan have had strong economic relationships as China remains the biggest trading partner of Japan. However, political, security, and people-to-people relationships between the two countries have been seen to dwindle in the recent years because of the high level of mistrust between Japan and China. Political and security relationships have been strained with the continued associations between the US and Japan and the conflict over Senkaku Islands. Protests and the burning of Chinese cars and businesses in Chinese cities have negated the people-to-people relationships of the two countries. Effective solutions through negotiations are underway to ensure these conflicts are resolved in time. In the next ten years, the relationship between China and Japan may worsen as the two countries are moving apart each day. Japan’s increased association with the United States of America would contribute to declining relationships between China and Japan in the next ten years. The level of mistrust would increase between China and Japan even if they are significant trade partners in the current economic world. Therefore, there is less optimism of improved relationships between China and Japan in the next ten years.
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