Pragmatic cooperation between Tokyo, Beijing has huge volume, diplomat says
"Decoupling and breaking chains" or "confrontation between camps" are not in line with the fundamental interests of China and Japan and their people, said China's top diplomat to Japan on Tuesday.
"The pragmatic cooperation between China and Japan has huge volume, deep foundation and broad prospects," said Wu Jianghao, China's newly-appointed ambassador to Japan, upon his arrival at Narita airport on Tuesday. He said "decoupling and breaking chains" or "confrontation between camps" are not in line with the fundamental interests of the two countries and their people and are contrary to the trend of history and the times.
Wu worked twice at the Chinese embassy in Tokyo for more than 10 years between 1993 and 2008 before taking office as the 13th Chinese ambassador to Japan. The veteran diplomat also served as ambassador to Sri Lanka, and was the head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Department of Asian Affairs before his promotion to assistant foreign minister in 2020.
Upon his arrival in Japan, Wu said it is vital to maintain and develop a healthy and stable relationship between China and Japan.
"As neighbors, China and Japan should learn from history, create a shared future, and strive for peaceful coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation. We should adhere to the principles established in the four political documents between China and Japan, follow the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, stay true to our original aspirations, eliminate interference, and promote the healthy operation of China-Japan relations on the right track," Wu said.
The four documents refer to the China-Japan Joint Statement of 1972, the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1978, the China-Japan Joint Declaration of 1998, and a joint statement on advancing relations in 2008.
However, ties between China and Japan entered a downward spiral after 2008 following Japan's unilateral change of its policy and the status quo concerning China's Diaoyu Islands by illegally "nationalizing" them in 2012.
The trade conflict initiated against China by then-U.S. president Donald Trump in 2018 saw further erosion of the China-Japan relationship. In line with the U.S. actions, Japan heavily politicized economic activities between it and China, including effectively banning communications equipment from China's Huawei Technologies and ZTE that year.
The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has also focused on using economic security as a political weapon and is urging its allies to join in with such efforts against China. Tokyo has appeared more enthusiastic than ever to align itself with the United States in terms of regional geopolitical and economic confrontation, sometimes at the expense of its economic ties with China.
'Bitter pill to swallow'
Liu Qingbin, former professor at Yokohama National University's Institute of Advanced Sciences, said recent moves by Tokyo have shown that some policymakers have spearheaded decoupling with China, as if they do not know the consequences will be "a bitter pill to swallow".
"Decoupling from China would have negative consequences for Japan's economy, security and influence in the region," Liu said. "Since Japan's economic, geopolitical and historical ties with China are significant and cannot be easily disregarded, a better option for Tokyo is seeking to manage and improve its relationship with China while protecting its own interests."
China is Japan's largest trading partner, accounting for 23 percent of Japan's total trade volume while Japan is also one of the largest foreign investors in China, meaning decoupling from China would disrupt these economic ties, he added.