CPI China-Japan special issue

Dr Jonathan Sullivan, School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, University of Nottingham

China Policy Institute Blog: Call for contributions*

The maritime disputes over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islets now threaten to cause significant damage to the very important relationship between China and Japan, with Taiwan being dragged into it.  With Xi Jinping taking a more nationalist stance generally than his predecessor and Shinzo Abe expected to defend Japan’s interests more robustly than his DPJ predecessor, whether the new leaders of these two countries will find a way to move forward without giving away too much is a crucial issue for regional stability and for sustaining economic complementarity.

Since Xi took over the leadership of the Communist Party, the Chinese side has tried to put into effect a change of the realities on the ground, which is to challenge the Japanese position that it exercises undisputed sovereign authority over the islets.  How far will Xi be prepared to go to force Japan to acknowledge that a dispute exists?

On the Tokyo side, the ‘right-wing’ background that Prime Minister Abe enjoys gives him more scope to reach out to Beijing without appearing weak.  But does he have the intention, political will and the scope to reach an understanding with Xi to find a way to keep the dispute under control and avoid wider ramifications for the economic and other relations between the two countries?

Taiwan needs to avoid in its handling of the disputes from being interpreted in Beijing as “going its own way”. Taipei must also avoid antagonising Tokyo and making Japan unsympathetic to Taiwan over long-term cross-Strait relations. How much scope is there for Taiwan to avoid entanglement without giving up the ROC’s own sovereignty claim?

How far will the USA, which is not a party to the dispute but is being looked to by all disputants to play a positive role from their respective conflicting perspectives, be willing and able to play a constructive role?

The special issue of the CPI blog on this subject hope to bring in insights and perspectives from specialists who are able to shed light on the complexities of the issues concerned from multiple perspectives.

*Analytical contributions of ~1000 words addressing any of the above or related issues are welcome to jonathan.sullivan@nottingham.ac.uk. The deadline for submissions is Feb 17th and the special issue will run soon thereafter.