Second Thoughts in Beijing: ‘We Are Still Facing a Powerful Japan’ | Yanmei Xie
BEIJING — After two years of tension, China and Japan are at last inching toward some sort of detente, gingerly sounding out the possibility of a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at November’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing. The opportunity is as fragile as it is fleeting and requires both sides to proceed with extreme caution.
The meeting of the two countries’ foreign ministers in Myanmar’s capital of Naypyidaw last week was a significant step. Just days before, Xi received former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who was reportedly on a “stealth mission” to Beijing to broker a rapprochement.
Prior to these encounters, high-level engagement had been frozen since September 2012, when a dormant dispute over a group of islands — called Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan —was reignited. Although Xi and Abe had a brief encounter during last year’s APEC summit in Bali, the unplanned meeting was so awkward that Beijing did its best to downplay it.
The renewal of contacts marks a significant change from December 2012, when Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni shrine to Japan’s war dead, including 14 Class A war criminals. For China, the shrine symbolizes Japan’s refusal to atone for its aggression in World War II. After the visit, the Chinese foreign ministry declared: “Abe himself closed the door of dialogue with the Chinese leaders. The Chinese people do not welcome him.”
FULL ARTICLE (The Huffington Post)
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