Managing a Changing Relationship: China's Japan Policy in the 1990s
by Robert S Ross
ISBN 1463714947 (1-4637-1494-7)
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Softcover, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 1996
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Book summary: China's Japan policy is a central component of China's overall security policy, rivaling the U.S.-China relationship in importance. As both an economic and potential military great power, Japan has the ability to make a significant contribution to Chinese security. It can contribute to Chinese economic development and become a partner in managing regional security issues in the interest of stability in East Asia and their respective national interests. Alternatively, over the longer term, Japan has the ability to become a major threat to vital Chinese interests. Should Sino-Japanese security relations deteriorate, Tokyo could deny China access to its economic resources, including the Japanese market, and its capital and technology, and it could influence other countries in East Asia to do the same. This would have a significant impact on Chinese economic development and Beijing's long-term military modernization program. Japan could also participate in a regional coalition aimed at China and, most alarming, if it realized its considerable offensive military potential, it could directly influence the regional balance of power and regional diplomacy to China's strategic detriment. China has a lot at stake in Sino-Japanese relations. To maximize the benefits and minimize the prospects for adverse trends, Beijing must carefully manage the relationship, seeking to consolidate cooperative trends, to avoid the development of unnecessary conflict, and to minimize the impact of basic conflict of interests. Simultaneously, without undermining its cooperative efforts toward Japan, Beijing must also develop the domestic resources necessary to contend with an economically, technologically, and militarily more capable Japan; it has to play catch-up to a potential great power threat. Finally, Chinese policymakers must pay close attention to contemporary trends in Japanese foreign and defense policy, including policy toward China, assessing the impact of changing Japanese policy on Chinese security interests. In response, they must develop a nuanced policy that discourages detrimental trends in Japanese policy while not undermining the prospects for bilateral cooperation. The challenges of China's Japan policy are considerable. Even under the best of circumstances, Chinese leaders would be hard-pressed to develop a Japan policy that could satisfy these competing demands. Yet, contemporary circumstances make the task all the more difficult. Recent developments in Chinese relations with Taiwan and the United States impact Japanese foreign policy, and domestic politics in Beijing and Tokyo complicate the process of sustaining nuanced foreign policies and cooperative bilateral relations. It is far from clear that, in these complex circumstances, Chinese policymakers have either the diplomatic skill or the political flexibility to meet the challenge of sustaining Sino-Japanese cooperation.
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