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Sino-Japanese trust key to Asia-Pacific stability: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-04-02 17:56

A direct hotline between the Chinese and Japanese defense ministries has been set up and is due to be put into operation this spring. Announcing the news on Friday, the Chinese Defense Ministry said it would "strengthen the capabilities of the two sides to manage and control maritime and air crises".

Plans for the hotline have been in the works since 2007, but they stalled due to Japan's "purchase" of the Diaoyu Islands in 2012. It was not until President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida agreed at their meeting in Bangkok in November to accelerate the talks on the mechanism that it was finally realized.

Although this is a welcome sign that the two neighbors want to foster trust and maintain regional peace and stability, China is justifiably concerned about a possible regression in Japan's policy toward it, as Wang Yi, director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said in his meeting with former Japanese prime minister Yasuo Fukuda in the Chinese capital on Friday.

These concerns have been fueled by recent moves by Tokyo that call into question whether Japan will continue to adhere to the direction of peaceful development.

Wang said that China hopes Japan will uphold the commitments made in the four political documents between the two countries and create conditions conducive to the healthy development of China-Japan relations.

This will have been a message reiterated to Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, who paid a two-day visit to Beijing on the weekend, before heading to Brussels to attend the meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

The possibility of Tokyo providing a doorway for NATO to expand its reach into the Asia-Pacific is one of the concerns that Wang was referring to.

Although it is too early to say the relationship between China and Japan has warmed up, the meeting may have helped the two sides orient their relations in the right direction if Tokyo engaged in the exchanges with goodwill and sincerity.

If they can thaw their relations again, China and Japan would hopefully see a rebound in their bilateral trade volume, which dropped in 2022, thus laying a firmer foundation for mutual trust.

But to get bilateral ties back on the right track, Japan needs to recognize that having good relations with its neighbor is of more benefit to it than hanging on to the coattails of an ally 10,000 kilometers away that is only interested in looking after No 1. It is absurd to please the latter at the cost of friendly relations with the former.

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