GLOCOM Platform
debates Media Reviews Tech Reviews Special Topics Books & Journals
Summary Page
Search with Google
Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:54 03/09/2007
News Review #326: December 15, 2005

PM: China and Japan Can Sort Out Their Differences

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

PM: China and Japan Can Sort Out Their Differences
Malaysia Star

Related Article:
China Leader Still Displeased with Japan
Associated Press/Mercury News


At the initial meeting in Kuala Lumpur on 14th, leaders of 16 Asian and Pacific countries agreed to formally launch a new regional framework, the East Asia Summit, which will meet annually and work toward creating a cohesive community in the region.

The article above cites the words of the chairman of the meeting, Malaysia's Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, "We have brought everybody together. We have expressed our concerns with regard to stability and security in the region." He was reported also to comment, "I am confident that China and Japan can resolve their problem."

It is certainly natural and understandable that for the Malaysian Prime Minister the occasion was a big opportunity to promote his political position both domestically and internationally, and thus played up the significance of the meeting. But as the Economist Magazine cynically commented in its article titled "Dead on Arrival," the meeting was more a showroom of differences than cooperation at varying levels and subjects.

The article above describes the handshake between Japan's Prime Minister Koizumi and China's Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao as follows: "... pen probably broke the ice during the inking of the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Wednesday. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi asked Wen to lend his Japanese counterpart Junichiro Koizumi the pen when it was Koizumi's turn to sign. Wen obliged and those present broke into applause."

The same scene, as reported by Associated Press, introduced as the related article above draws a different image saying, "As leaders of the newly inaugurated East Asia Summit were signing a declaration on the group's establishment, Koizumi leaned over and asked to borrow his pen. Wen ignored him for several seconds until Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, smiling broadly, intervened to repeat the request. Wen then passed the pen to Koizumi with a smile, but the snub was widely noted in an otherwise uneventful ceremony..."

The title of the above-related article is problematic, too. Many in Japan would want to turn around the position and say, "Japan leader still displeased with China." In fact, Mr Koizumi has commented that he does not understand the criticisms toward his visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, but affirmed his support for maintaining close ties between Japan and China and said disagreements of opinion between them should not hinder them from pursuing their relationship further. Mr Koizumi kept his stance on willingness to meet with either the Chinese or the Korean leader, but it was on the part of China's Wen Jiabao and South Korea's Roh Moo Hyun who refused.

Another political power struggle was seen in the membership of the East Asia Summit. It was traditionally China which wanted a smaller group of ASEAN+3 (Japan, China, and South Korea) where it has believed it could maximize its influence in the region. Japan, on the other hand, had sought to bring Australia and New Zealand into the group, as they are the industrialized and democratic countries in the Asia-Pacific region and could play productive roles in assisting the development of ten ASEAN countries. Inviting India is a rather recent idea upon realizing the recent success of its development - that its participation would benefit both the industrialized and developing members of the gathering.

China apparently changes its tactics seeing the trend, and Wen Jiabao told a news conference that Russia's participation was welcomed and that the group needed to build closer ties with the U.S. and the European Union. China's intention is recognized as to dilute the existence and objective of the East Asia Summit, by thus sustaining the setup of ASEAN+3 as the forum for substantial discussions. China's proposal was met with strong opposition by countries such as Singapore and Indonesia, and the language to support Russia's participation in the closing statement proposal was dropped.

All during the while, the U.S. has quietly showed anxiety toward its exclusion from the forum. The U.S. has a record of trying to sidetrack Asian efforts to form their own group in the past, and as it happens to be the largest power in the world, its behaviors need to be kept track also.

Such was a very interesting meeting, if not with disappointing results.

bullet Top
Copyright © Japanese Institute of Global Communications