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Relations have been strained as China becomes increasingly assertive in the region. Photo: Shutterstock

China urged to push for better ties with Japan and seek three-way talks with US

  • Former PLA instructor warns that failures in crisis management could lead to full-scale conflict and says dialogue is the only way forward
  • Tokyo has responded to mounting tensions by approving a record defence budget and strengthening its security ties with Australia and America
China has been urged to look for ways to mend ties with Japan and push forward three-way security talks involving Tokyo and Washington.

Zhang Tuosheng, director of the Institute of International and Strategic Studies at Peking University, wrote in an academic journal that war must no longer be seen as a way to settle disputes.

“China and Japan should also consider jointly promoting the China-Japan-US trilateral security dialogue at an appropriate time, discussing many security issues ... to reduce misunderstandings and misjudgments,” Zhang said.

In the article, Zhang, a former instructor at the Military Academy of the People’s Liberation Army, said the lack of crisis management could lead to a full military confrontation between China and the United States, which would in turn damage relations with Japan, a key US ally.

Australia-Japan treaty could ‘ease US military burden’ in Indo-Pacific

The article was published in late December in the international relations journal China International Strategy Review.

China’s relations with both the US and Japan have deteriorated in recent years amid tensions over issues such as the South China Sea, repeated Chinese air force sorties into Taiwan’s air defence zone and tech and trade tensions.

Japan has responded by approving a record 5.4 trillion yen (US$47 billion) defence budget that includes funding for research and development into a new fighter jet and other “game-changing” weapons.


Shinzo Abe, Japan’s ex-leader says Tokyo and Washington will stand by Taiwan, angering Beijing

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s ex-leader says Tokyo and Washington will stand by Taiwan, angering Beijing
On Thursday, the United States and Japan agreed to deepen scientific cooperation on military technology, including defences against hypersonic weapons.
The announcement came as the two countries acknowledged the challenges posed by what they called China’s efforts to “undermine the rules-based order” – ranging from its activities in the South China and East China Seas to alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

In a joint statement released following dialogue between the two countries’ foreign and defence ministers they pledged to “work together to deter and, if necessary, respond to [China’s] destabilising activities in the region”.

Meanwhile the defensive pact signed by Japan and Australia this week, which for the first time set out a framework for cooperation in addressing “shared strategic security challenges”, heaped further pressure on Beijing.

Japan boosts coastguard fleet to counter Chinese patrols near Diaoyus

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Wednesday that cooperation between countries should improve trust and regional peace and should not target any third party.

Xing Yuqing, a professor of economics and the director of Asian economic policy at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo, said China’s military progress and its actions have prompted growing insecurity in Japan.

“Chinese coast guard vessels have frequently sailed near the Diaoyu islands and the possibility of military action adopted by Beijing against Taipei is increasing,” said Xing.

The Japanese held-islands in the East China Sea – also known as the Senkakus – are claimed by Beijing and are a regular source of friction between the two countries.

“China and Japan have to set aside the influence of territorial disputes, history and ideology before developing a warmer relationship.”


Japan and China agrees to set up military hotline, stress importance of peace in the Taiwan Strait

Japan and China agrees to set up military hotline, stress importance of peace in the Taiwan Strait

Lian Degui, a professor of Japanese studies at the Shanghai International Studies University, said Through regular people-to-people exchanges, the two countries can achieve high mutual understanding and trust, and bilateral economic cooperation can pave the foundation for the two countries to work on areas like environmental protection and ageing.”

Despite the ongoing tensions, there have been some positive developments recently.

In late December, China and Japan agreed to set up a joint communication hotline by the end of this year, while the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership free-trade deal came into effect on Jan 1.

China and Japan are both signatories of the new free-trade deal, which Wang Yiwei, director of Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University, described as “offering another channel for the two countries to deepen cooperation and nurture trust”.