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  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 10:10pm
NewsChina
DIPLOMACY: ANALYSIS

Beijing holds fire after Shinzo Abe's controversial visit to war shrine

For now, China may only condemn Japanese PM and step up patrols around disputed islands

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 December, 2013, 2:58am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 December, 2013, 4:15am
 

Beijing will refrain from taking any concrete response to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to a controversial war shrine as the central government assesses the impact on Tokyo's relationship with its neighbours and Washington.

Buoyed by the US government's strong criticism of Abe's visit, President Xi Jinping's administration is unlikely to do much more than condemn the move and step up patrols around the Diaoyu Islands, or Senkaku Islands as Japan calls them, which are claimed by both China and Japan.

The US embassy in Tokyo on Thursday expressed "disappointment" over the trip to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honours 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 14 top-level war criminals. It said the visit would "exacerbate tensions".

Zhang Baohui , a security specialist at Lingnan University, said that while the alliance between Washington and Tokyo would probably remain strong, China would attempt to exploit any divisions between the two.

"China will not appear to be provocative so as to avoid forcing the US into giving strong backing to Tokyo," he said.

Japan's Jiji Press quoted a Japanese government source as saying that the US "worked again and again behind the scenes" to block the shrine visit.

"Washington is more cautious towards Abe because he seems to be getting out of control," said Jia Qingguo , an international relations specialist at Peking University.

Chinese state media continued to attack Abe. A commentary on the website of the People's Daily, the Communist Party's mouthpiece, said Beijing should recall its ambassador to Tokyo. An editorial in the Global Times, which is published under the People's Daily, called on Beijing to put Abe administration officials on a "most unwelcome" list.

But the Foreign Ministry stopped short of threatening direct action. "I will not respond to commentaries in the media," ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said. "But I believe all of us can see that the behaviour of Japanese leaders have ignited protest and anger from Chinese people."

Chinese-language media outlets based in Japan have speculated that Abe may have decided to visit the shrine after his requests to visit Beijing and Seoul were turned down last week. A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Tokyo said yesterday the time was "not suitable" to talk about any Abe visit.

In a sign that Beijing was refraining from any provocative moves, mainland activists supporting Chinese sovereignty over the Diaoyus said authorities had barred them from protesting.

"We planned to give petition letters to the Japanese embassy in Beijing and consulate in Shanghai," said Li Yiqiang , an executive member of the China Federation for Defending the Diaoyu Islands. "But we were blocked by police on the way."

Meanwhile, a lawsuit brought against Japanese authorities by two Diaoyus activists from Hong Kong was rejected by the Supreme People's Court. Campaigners Lo Chau and Chan Miu-tak flew to Beijing on Thursday to sue the Japanese coastguard and Okinawan authorities for 165 million yuan (HK$209 million) for "mental anguish" and damage to Lo's boat during their arrest for landing on the disputed islands in August last year. They were told they must first petition lower-level courts.

The island dispute highlights the difficult diplomatic issues facing the Obama administration in its "pivot" towards the Asia-Pacific region.

Sun Zhe , professor of international relations at Tsinghua University, said the US would not be too critical of Abe because it still needed Japan to offset China's growing influence in the region.

Business analysts are watching whether the shrine dispute will cause more setbacks to Japanese businesses in China.

Olive Xia, an analyst with brokerage firm Core Pacific-Yamaichi International, said Japanese carmakers' share of the China market would likely probably drop one to two percentage points to about 19 per cent. "We see limited impact as the anti-Japan sentiment is less serious than that caused by the territorial dispute," Xia said.

Additional reporting by Laura Zhou, Lo Wei and Samuel Chan

 

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This article is now closed to comments

pslhk

It is easy for China to strike out Yasukuni with MIRV and/or cruise missiles
to once and for all finally finish off WWII
In recognition of that Akihito pleaded for peace in his latest speech
Abe the serial provocateur overwhelmed by fears
has been demonstrating his paranoia
A funny and shameful nation with an insular mentality
may never learn to appreciate the magnanimousness of a great nation
like CHINA
chanaa
insular mentality, serial provocateur overwhelmed with fears, paranoia.
are you describing yourself pslhk ? sure sounds like it
lamlm38
not all Chinese are CCP members u ****!!! we Chinese hate those **** dogs too!!!
superdx
Since you have such easily "hurt feelings" on a news source that's clearly spewing PRC propaganda, you must like coming here a lot.
You think China is doing it's people a favour by calling for hostilities against the Japanese? In 20 years, cancers and respiratory ailments will have killed off huge percentages of the population, leading to further civil unrest as medical costs soar. And most of these funds will go to American and EU medical companies because Chinese pharmaceuticals can't be trusted. See dead children last week from Hep B vaccine.
I look forward to do the day that the PRC government has self-destructed, children are taught about Tiannamen, the 30m+ killed under Mao and the billions of RMB smuggled out by so-called party members.
You want to be angry at the Japanese? You should be angry at the CPCC. They are the ones making China worse, day by day. The next 5 year plan will do little to reduce unsustainable urbanization, air pollution, quality of health, medical care and social services. Combined with a huge shadow debt-laden economy, shouting and waging war against Japan is a distraction from all I have listed above. You better look deeper than the xenophobic hatred your beloved CPCC leaders are hoping you swallow. Don't be so naive.
hongkiejj@malaysiaboleh
@superdx
don't change the subject....this is about idiot abe provocation by visiting ys.
just say and admit he is an idiot and we move on...
you don't have to be born raise in china but even a blind bat can see right and wrong...remorse and fake apology....deceit and sincerity...from abe.
I don't have a problem with Japanese ppl but we will not accept or take any bulls**t from japan govt that continue to glorified their past and deny the truth ! china is right !
hongkiejj@malaysiaboleh
@ tat.wong.7923
spot on ...brilliant actually I must say...and lets just ignore that ignorant soon to be worship @ ejmcii @ YS.
pangkf
But why this subject is endless... again and again!!
mercedes2233
"China is lucifer hell bent on US destruction both military & economically ."
Gosh, where do you see that? Any Chinese soldiers overseas doing what US soldiers did/do in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq etc?
chanaa
i think u need to read that line in full merc2233 before replying.
mercedes2233
Let's not confuse the issues. What is your view on the visit to the shrine?

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