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Guest Analyst

China’s Premier in Japan: Melting Ice or Stoking Fire?

By Susan L. Shirk

China’s Premier Wen Jiabao travels to Japan this week in what he is calling an “ice melting” visit, the first by a senior Chinese leader since 2000.

Chinese leaders wanted nothing to do with former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi because he insisted on paying respects to Japan’s World War II dead at the Yasukuni Shrine where 14 convicted war criminals were memorialized. They believed they had to show the Chinese public that they stood firmly against Japan’s failure to acknowledge its wartime guilt.

Yet current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is more committed to defending Japan’s war record than Koizumi ever was, as can be seen by Abe’s recent statements exculpating the Japanese army from responsibility for forcing Korean and Chinese women into brothels as “comfort women” during the Japanese occupation. Abe also has declared his intention to revise Japan’s Constitution to free it from the post-war restrictions on the Japanese military.

Why then are China’s leaders so eager to warm relations with Prime Minister Abe? Their motivations are rooted as much in China’s fragile domestic politics as in its international relations.

Relations with Japan are a domestic hot-button issue in China. Current Chinese leaders President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao are trying to escape from the corner that former President Jiang Zemin boxed them into by stoking anti-Japanese public opinion.

Jiang Zemin sought to build public support for himself and for the Communist Party after the Tiananmen crackdown of 1989 by launching a massive propaganda and educational effort called the Patriotic Education Campaign that focused on Japan’s brutal occupation of China during the 1930s and ‘40s. Jiang played up Japan’s wartime history much more than his more politically confident predecessors Mao Zedong or Deng Xiaoping.

When Jiang visited Japan in 1998 he demanded a written apology for the occupation from everyone he met, including the emperor. He failed to get the apology and managed to fuel an anti-Chinese backlash in Japan, but he won popular acclaim at home.

But Jiang’s efforts to bolster his domestic popularity by bashing Japan put the Communist Party at risk. Popular passions against Japan boiled over into large scale and sometimes violent mass protests in 25 cities in April 2005.

The worst nightmare of China’s leaders is a national protest movement of discontented urban and rural groups united against the regime by the shared fervor of nationalism. Similar mass movements that accused leaders of failing to defend the nation against foreign aggression brought down the Qing Dynasty in 1911 and the Republic of China in 1949.

In South Korea during the 1960s, public protests against what people viewed as the weak stance of the country’s dictatorial leaders in dealing with Japan fueled the movement toward democracy – the same thing could happen in China. Another danger is that the intense public pressure to stand up to Japan could drive China’s leaders into an inadvertent military clash with Tokyo over the contested oil and gas deposits in the East China Sea.

But calming popular sentiments toward Japan is no easy matter.

The simplest part turned out to be obtaining an informal agreement with Abe even before he became prime minister that he would not visit the Yasukuni Shrine for the time being. The Chinese declared victory by announcing that they had overcome the “political obstacle” impeding relations, and Abe simply said that he had not decided whether to visit the shrine. In signal of deference to China, Abe made it his first foreign destination after becoming prime minister last fall.

Much harder is moderating public opinion at home. Every poll shows that Chinese across the board are more negative toward Japan than toward the United States, that attitudes toward Japan have grown more hostile over time, and that young people are more obsessed with contested history issues than their elders who might actually have experienced them.

The current Japanese leadership hasn’t dared revise the treatment of Japan in school history textbooks. It stops at the end of World War II and says nothing at all about Japan’s post-war development. The Communist Party in China still celebrates the anniversaries related to Japan’s occupation with patriotic ceremonies on college campuses and wartime movies on theater and television screens.

Although President Hu Jintao has tightened press censorship and closed down the most virulent anti-Japanese websites, nowadays it is impossible for the Communist Party to block news about what is happening in Tokyo from reaching the Chinese public. How will Beijing react if Abe later does visit Yasukuni or takes other actions related to wartime history that are popular in Japan but outrage the Chinese public?

One should watch in the next few days to see how China’s own domestic media report inside China on Wen Jiabao’s visit to Japan. If the stories highlight Wen’s firm demand that the Japanese prime minister not visit Yasukuni or take actions related to historic events that “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people,” we’ll know that Hu and Wen still remain fearful of being condemned as soft on Japan by their domestic public.

Susan L. Shirk is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs. She currently serves as director of the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation at the University of California - San Diego. Her most recent book “China: Fragile Superpower” was released this month. For more information, see her recent live Q&A session.

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Comments (51)

Truth:

>xie:
>What is the chance Japanese one day will seek revenge against American?

Why Japanese need to seek revenge against American??
Don't worry, no need to be feared with revenge.
Japanese are happy in the very peaceful country.
No war. Peace is all. Be happy ;-)

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Jun:

For now, Wen's visit was neither. It did not melt the ice, and it did not stoke fire, either.

The visit was long on superficial handshaking and ceremonies and short on specifics. Japanese PM Abe did not explicitly promise to refrain from visiting the Tokyo War Shrine, and the Chinese PM did not give him his asking price, either.

In the joint statement released, China did not endorse Japan's quest for a seat in UN Security Council (vague wording of supporting a bigger international role for Japan, could mean anything), did not budge on East China Sea dispute (not to be mis-read, China's Foreign Ministry announced China won't accept the Japanese "median line" when Wen was still on Japanese soil), Wen even delibrately avoided taking the bullet train Japan was trying to sell to Chinese market (Wen insisted on flying from Tokyo to Kyoto, while taking the train was easier, safer, and as fast). So if taking these as barometers, the Chinese leadership clearly are mindful of the negative attitude towards Japan.

But it's a vast over-estimation of the domestic clout that the Chinese government or indeed CCP can wield inside China to suggest Chinese people's feelings towards Japan can be so easily swayed by either an "education campagin" or a visit of senior leader. Indeed, how many students on China's campuses bother to treat those "educational prints" seriously? And I suspect in the last week, people in China paid far more attention to the Shanghai Stock Index than to whatever the PM is doing in Japan!

So what motivated this visit to Japan all of a sudden? In my opinion, the Beijing Olympics.

Next year, when the Olympics are held at Beijing, China is going to hold its coming out party, a big party. The Beijing leadership clearly do not want it spoiled. Hence the slogan of "peaceful rise" or "peaceful development", pushed strongly by noneother than the PM who just completed the Japan visit. More broadly, the leadership do not want to be distracted by confrontation with foreign powers when they are busy getting the overheated economy under control.

So Wen's visit was a public relation action, the main intended audience is not inside China, but in the West, the United States in particular. It's all about China's peaceful image, nothing else.

Jun:

For now, Wen's visit was neither. It did not melt the ice, and it did not stoke fire, either.

The visit was long on superficial handshaking and ceremonies and short on specifics. Japanese PM Abe did not explicitly promise to refrain from visiting the Tokyo War Shrine, and the Chinese PM did not give him his asking price, either.

In the joint statement released, China did not endorse Japan's quest for a seat in UN Security Council (vague wording of supporting a bigger international role for Japan, could mean anything), did not budge on East China Sea dispute (not to be mis-read, China's Foreign Ministry announced China won't accept the Japanese "median line" when Wen was still on Japanese soil), Wen even delibrately avoided taking the bullet train Japan was trying to sell to Chinese market (Wen insisted on flying from Tokyo to Kyoto, while taking the train was easier, safer, and as fast). So if taking these as barometers, the Chinese leadership clearly are mindful of the negative attitude towards Japan.

But it's a vast over-estimation of the domestic clout that the Chinese government or indeed CCP can wield inside China to suggest Chinese people's feelings towards Japan can be so easily swayed by either an "education campagin" or a visit of senior leader. Indeed, how many students on China's campuses bother to treat those "educational prints" seriously? And I suspect in the last week, people in China paid far more attention to the Shanghai Stock Index than to whatever the PM is doing in Japan!

So what motivated this visit to Japan all of a sudden? In my opinion, the Beijing Olympics.

Next year, when the Olympics are held at Beijing, China is going to hold its coming out party, a big party. The Beijing leadership clearly do not want it spoiled. Hence the slogan of "peaceful rise" or "peaceful development", pushed strongly by noneother than the PM who just completed the Japan visit. More broadly, the leadership do not want to be distracted by confrontation with foreign powers when they are busy getting the overheated economy under control.

So Wen's visit was a public relation action, the main intended audience is not inside China, but in the West, the United States in particular. It's all about China's peaceful image, nothing else.

J Lu:

I agree with TYPHOON. I'd visisted a villiage in FengRun county in Hebei Province, where more than 1000 villiagers were massacred after the women in the villiage were raped first at Jan 25,1941.
Chinese people do hate the imperialism of Japan, but we do not hate the Japanese people.The Chinese government also always said, from Mao's era up to now, the crime is of the imperialists , not of the Japanese people. So the nationalism emotion in China was never a tool of the government as Susan suggested. History will not and should not be forgoten, just as Americans will not forget Pearl Habor. This should not be called nationalism.
Germany wins the respect of the world by admitting that what Nazi had done are crimes. But the Japense leaders show their respects to the chief war criminals ( because some of leaders after the war are offsprings of the war leaders) by visiting Yasukuni (note the "visiting" means "adoring", not only "taking a look at"). The prorest of people in China, Korea and in other countries for such adoring is reasonable and has nothing to do with so-called nationalism.

P.S. the Masscre I meantioned is called ""Panjiayu Massacre" and 1230 people were killed.

Salamon:

While discussing how to ease the tensions between China and Japan with respect to WWII, without doubt there will be other discussions. Most will be revealed on a [prewritten] communique.

However, I have a notion that there will be an important discussion [unmentioned in public] in what measures these two OIL IMPORTING ECONOMIC POWER HOPUSES propose to take to persuade the USA/UK/Israel warmongers that attacking IRAN is a NONO!!! As the two preeminent bankers of the USA Government [and of USA business] these two copuntries have considerable power over the USA Economy.

It is true that both Japan and China may [indeed will] loose some power if they retaliate against the USA Dollar, however, the loss could be [and will be] considerably less than what would happen if Iran [and her allies] can distrupt the ME's oil/gas production and or export for 3-6 months [or longer].

Recalling the woeful record of the USA in Iraq, Somalia, Afganistan and post-Katerina, it is unlikely that a USA/UK/Israel Attack would disable the Irani coalition sufficiently to deter them from vengence through the oil spigot.

Missing even a small part of the PErsian Gulf production would cause major economic disruption and hurt the Far East far more than Europe and or the USA.

hyperfool:

I don't read WP often, so it is my first time reading Susan L. Shirk's column. So typical of an ill-informed mind. Now, she might be an expert on other issues I don't know about, but she is way off base in china-japan. This is not even high-school level, give me a break. The general feelings of Chinese toward Japanese has nothing to do with the ruling CCP party, but has everything to do with what the Japanese military did in WWII. Comfort women, NanJing, biological experiments on humans, etc; all these not withstanding, ~30,000,000 chinese were dead because of Japanese invasion, not to include many millions more in other parts of Asia. To demand a simple action of not visiting the shrine which houses the war criminal is the absolute minimum. Apologies must be followed by deeds - like the Germany model, but we don't see that from the Japanese government. Having visited Japan, its people are absolutely wonderful. But, in some ways parallel the rise of neo-cons/right-wingers in the US government, the actions of the government sometimes do not reflect fully the will of its people, just like what's happening here with the Iraq war. Simply put, 9/11 killed ~3000 people and US went to war with Afg(correctly), and Iraq(foolishly), with ~300,000 Iraqi dead. For China and other Asian nations who lost millions of souls to ask Japan to meet the absolute minimum of not honoring its hilter-like figures, has nothing to do with domestic politics, international standing, economics, etc. It is purely asking Japan for a simple sign of humanity to honor the people that its military killed in WWII. May they rest in peace!

Northeast Fu:

Over 90 percents of writings on China are either mis-leading or biased by the Western media. Those so-called experts, analysts, and journalists never write about China from the standpoints of its people, culture, historic events, or even simply Chinese opinions. Surely, China needs reforms (political, social, economy..etc) but Westerners always tend to ignore that no matter what kind of reforms it will be on the Chinese terms, not Western models. How can a democratic model from the West be shoved into throats of the Chinese people who has over 5000 of civilizations? It will take time. Imagine what would happen if China became a full-democratic country over night or just in a month without proper preparations??? It will be even worse than former Soviet Union. Or most recently, Iraq. Do we see lives being better of in today's full democratic Iraq or worse since it has a democratic govt? Does the West want to see over 1 billion Chinese living in chaos and get spilled over to neighboring countries??? OR is that the exact intention of the West? Create chaos and a weak China? I don't know... but it's very clear that the West and Japan never want China to be strong again.

Talking about hyporipcy, the Western media will jump all over the places to condemn Germany if it refused to accept the occurance of the Hollocust during WW2. And if German leaders went to praise for Hitler and those Nazi war criminals? Do people realize that the Shinto site is not only praying for the soliders but for war criminals and also glorifies the war crimes againist humanities? Please, you so-called experts and journalists go to see yourself... The museum next to it states that the attack on Pearl Harbor was a self-defence act by Japan againist the U.S.

If people read Western media's writings carefully, there are so much bias againist China. They make people their writing while call Chinese press as propaganda. Like Fox News, Fair & Balance but shut out the critics. So, is this the kind of democracy you are talking about???

Typhoon:

not to instill sentiment of hatred, but to narrate the fact the truth, and the basic feeling of Chinese people and some other asian countries, like Korea.

we always call China and Japan as close as just devided by a tiny sea streit in geography. The bad memorry is to Japanese imperialism and militarism. We do not anticipate the wounds healed by itself overnight, we want both countries show its willingness and initiative to mend the icy relationship. so to welcome Mr. Wen's "ice melting" trip, even it is to play audience or for economy sake.

Andy Chang:

we live in the same place,Asia.both China and Japan are the stong ones.I think it is nessary to have a harmonious relationships bewteen the two countries.and we need to strengh the cooperation on different parts,such as the sciectific technology,enviroment protection and the communicantion of culture and so forth.but the maim problem is the Japanese should have the right idea toward the occupation in WWII,Chinese are torelant.

Typhoon:

To add a few more, some claim the communist ruling will be toppled soon in the wake of Chinese people realization of the commnunist party's atrocities to the people during the Cultrual Revolution, Great Leap Forward, the Tibet issue... People outside of China always immagine how knowledgable and informed and assured of themselves toward China and its history. I am not politics-pursuing or any historian, or cosmopolitan, but I know we are now living better life, we can have our children receiving good education, heath care, we can now earn enough and travel around. And we want to keep this momentum of developing. I know it is brough by the communist party ruling.

Typhoon:

I am an ordinary Chinese, grow up in China, under Communist regime. What I know simply is, just as my family, my colleagues, my friends, and I think 99% of Chinese to enlarge recognize, there is no end to the humiliation history of Japanese invasion. The fresh feeling is that the memory will live for generations and generations, from father to son, and this is what I am told from my father and grandfather. There actually are plenty of holocaust or genocide as you call in the history of China, from antient time of some thousands of years ago, to the recent modern times. Chinese people had glory and grandure times in most of the time of history, but also suffer a lot for generations. But the fact of Japanese invasion and the massive killing and raping and all atrocities, tops all of them, and stabs Chinese people the most.

a reader:

It is fad to beat up China to appear on Washington’s two newspapers. But to come up some intelligent analysis requires honesty and knowledge. It was Abe who went to China right after became Prime Minister. Obviously, he, too, felt that spiral downward relationship with China under his predecessor is getting ridiculous and really damaged to Japan’s own national interests. Asian nations fell victim to the aggression during WWII never expect Japan quit whitewash of history, like denial of atrocities and comfort women, etc. But not to worship Tojo in Yusoconi Temple by any Japanese Prime Minister is the bottom line for any relationship. Go ask any Chinese or Koreans, can their leaders survive for tolerating Japanese Prime Minister visiting that temple? Abe knows that and that’s why he is staying away from that temple. The Chinese leaders would like to mend fence with Japan, as much as any responsible Japanese counterparts. Since Abe took the initial step, the Chinese leaders logically will reciprocate.

Jone Levi's:

To the guy who To APA:
Answer me some simple questions before go deeper:
1. When did Tibet became an independent country?
2. When China "invade" Tibet, where is American ambassadr? Killed? fleed? or ...

Before we answer u these simple questions,if u r a america,would u plz answer us just the 3 simplest questions?
1.when did Hawaii or New Mexico or Alaska became an independet country?
2.when did America "occupied" original Indian home,their sweet home,how many original Indian were killed when the whites "visited" the new continent?
3.what's the reason now after American military invade Iraq finding no mass distruction weapon and killing thousands of Iraqi civilian?

We r very appreciate u if u have chance to give us ur answer to the questions we deliver.

Janice Guan:

If the Japanese killed 300,000 in CA, what would be the reaction of Americans? I think the one who knows even just a little bit history about the Chinese in WWII will realize that how serious this issue is, not only for the emotion of the Chinese people but also for the reputation of the country. Japanese killed over 300,000 civillian in Nanking. Can you say that it's not serious?
Yes! Chinese should make peace for the world, they should embrace the Japanese with kindness and tolerant. But who will comfort the Chinese then? We have the reasons to protest visitings to the Yasukuni Shrine by leaders in Japan.

anonymous:

I suppose if one bad guy attacked you and hurt you seriously and claimed that he was self-defence, what will you think? Now Japan is the guy who invaded korea and China and claimed it was out of self-defence. This really outrages Koreans and Chinese. The japanese invasion hurt Koreans and Chinese too much. The japanese soldiers killed too many civilians and forced women into military brothels. For example, in Nanjing, Japanese soliders killed 300,000 civilians. Mountains of evidence, including sources from foreigners in Nanjing at that time, clearly indicates that there was a genocide in Nanjing. Most Chinese hate Japanese for their dishonesty and distortion. Now Japan government denies its evils in Asia. One day it will deny its attach on Pearl harbor.

History Reader:

From 1949-1955, the enforeced social reform in China probably caused death of about a million. The starvation compounded by wrong policy, flood and drought between 1958-1962 caused tremendous number of death, estimate ranged from 10 millions (published on official newspaper recently) to 50 millions by US academics. Cultural Revolution caused at least another one million death.

It's all human tragedy of unrivalled scale. But I doubt if you can call it genocide. It does not fit into the definition of genocide. In my opinion, this is human death caused by lawless, authoritarian and incompetent governing.

Tibet, previously a tributary country under the Qing Dynasty, was formally incorporated into the People's Republic of China in 1951, under force. Many Tibetans with potential threats to the new government were arrested and possibly executed. The number of victims is unknown as there is no reliable source. This could range from 30,000 to 100,000. Again, does this fit into the definition of genocide?
On the other hand, it should be pointed out that under the ruling of the previous theocracy of Tibet, Tibetans lived in extreme poverty, repression and deliberate ignorance encouraged by the ruling class. It's ironic that Tibetans now has better material life under the communist regime, possibly with comparatively less repressive but more competent governing.

DAN:

Sorry for going off topic earlier. This article is about Sino-Japan relations. I wasn't defending anyone's atrocity, but people just had to bring in the Cultural Revolution, Great Leap Forward, etc. any time a topic involving China appears, even when it had nothing to do with the discussion. Well, better focus on the real issue at hand here.

I too felt Ms. Shirk's analysis was a bit shallow. Certainly playing to the domestic audience is a factor in any foreign policy initiative. But in this case, there are real national interests for both countries at play here. It makes no sense for two trading partners with such vital trade relations to have the political relationship deteriorate to such level. Castigating Japan for past sins may play well to a small segment of ultranationalists, but it makes no sense to the development needs of China, who can still benefit from Japanese investment and technology, especially energy-saving technology, which will be the primary focus of this trip. For Japan, Abe may be a nationalist, but he's also a pragmatist, he sees no choice but to move forward economically with China while hedging his bets on the security front with US alliance. What's at play here is pragmatists from all sides taking a breather from the rhetoric and try to move forward for their own national interests. The disputes over history and resources are still there, but at least it's getting a lid put on. And that is to the benefit of everyone.

Erik Edmonds:

The Chinese have the right to be angry at the Japanese for the "hidden holocaust." Millions were killed and for what? So we would have to cross another ocean and kick the crap out of another country for going to far. Shame on Japan, forever.

ANONYMOUS:

Why are we always beefing over what happened generations ago, why can't we all make a dollar today (and more tomorrow)? Screw history, do the right thing, and lets all live our lives, not the lives of our parents/grandparents. 2 cents.

Anonymous:

I think that it is important for Japan to honor its war dead. I think that ignoring the war -ignoring history, can do no good. Both Japan and China should agree that the war was a terrible thing but it long passed and more co-operation would benefit them both.

William:

As a child caught between the industrial age, and the information age, I am appalled that all information relating to history embroils people in arrogant rants. Humility, and the need for truth remains elusive for the stubborn, and worldly mind. If US troops carried QUR-ANs to Najaff Iraq, and humbly prayed as faithful converts to Allah, the misery of the Iraqi people would soon be over. The world will only find peace when humility, and the desire to know the love of God is nurtured in a unified Church, dedicated to bringing peace. The stone which the builders rejected has become the rock on which the church stands in the case of the Dali Lama, as in the case of Jesus. All will come to God but not all will be accepted by him because of their deeds, and the lack of forgiveness sought in their hearts.

Anonymous:

Susan, your analysis strikes me as superficial. Any reader who doesn't have basic background knowledge of Sino-Japan relation would go away with the impression that the sole purpose of Wen's visit is to dampen domestic nationalism fervor which the leadership in China so fear that it would run out of control.

Sure treatment of war history remains a sticky issue. 200 billions trade dollars aside, anybody including Chinese and Japanese knows that there are lot more things that the leaders of the two countries must sit down and talk about. It seems to me that they are both pretty shrewd maneuvering, try to score maximum points both on the domestic and international fronts. They are know that for their best interests, the countries have to deal with each other. For Japan, it can't afford further isolation within Asia. Any complaining about being in a tough neighborhood is for American hears only. What's important is that neighbors regard Japan as a former thug who hasn't been fully rehabilitated. China, of course, would like to have a less hostile Japan.

Basically you failed to grasp more important issues at hand. Yeah, Abe might not back down on shrine visit. But game is still on. With your caliber, I believe you can be more enlightening.

D. Hodara:

Economic and financial interests cover up all other political questions. Today China is priorily interested in keeping the momentum of its present 'boom' going as long as possible.

Golp:

I not see no place where Japan not like China. If and when, pro bono Japan attack SE China then no like China not ask for it!

Dan:

To Anonymous. Maybe you need a little lesson in reading comprehension, where did I deny any atrocities, whether they were committed by Chinese, Japanese, or American? History is the ultimate judge and I firmly believe that all historical facts should be accounted for. I was just pointing out the inherent hypocrisy shown by people like Michael C and APA in criticizing the Chinese without reflecting on their own past mistakes.

Anonymous Coward:

Three Words: Foreign Direct Investment

Three More: Chinese Economic Growth

Anonymous:

Dan, you are not debating in any way which coincides with logical thought. the issue here is China's disapproval of a Japanese nationalist on the basis of their having visited a shrine which represents fourteen war criminals. this DESPITE China having, in the 20th century, thoughtfully slaughtered MILLIONS of civilians, and glorified the people responsible for such slaughter. Revisionism is certainly necessary, but claiming 'no genocide occurred' when it has been documented thousands of times in photographs, eyewitness accounts, official records, and corresponances places the debate on the level of - well, holocaust denial, which this certainly is. If any supporter of any country denies outright that massacres ever happened (there is a school of Japanese thought which refutes Nanking as well - do you defenders of China's barbarisms subscribe to that, as well?) within the last hundred years, how can debate ever be meaningful?

Certainly 'official stories' are to be treated with a boulder of salt. This goes for Pearl Harbor as well, of course. and this is not a simple matter of 'skeletons in the closet'. The Japanese persecuted the Ainu - hundreds of years ago - the Americans persecuted the Indians, the Philipinos, the Japanese...

...the point here is that China maintains the posture of war martyrs, when their leaders turn around and brutally subjigate other people AT THE SAME TIME that they are complaining. Millions have died under the Chinese government's watchful eye in the 20th Century. Do I really need to source this? Are you really denying what happened under Mao, what's happening in Tibet? Do you deny the Nazi holocaust as well? Do you deny the rape of Nanking, or do you just pick your revisions? Do you deny the American persecution of Latin America in the 80's, or of the Philipines earlier in the century? Please, in order to see this issue, the field must be level.

Dan:

APA, before you get all self-righteous and sanctimonious about the past mistakes of the Chinese, before you should examine your own country's shameful history WRT to the real genocide of the Native Americans, slavery, and the current mess in Iraq. See, if you go back far enough you can drag out enough skeletons from anyone's closet. I know my comments weren't helpful. Just want to illustrate a point, two can play this blame game too. Don't be a hypocrite.

moss:

" Chinese leaders wanted nothing to do with former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi because he insisted on paying respects to Japan’s World War II dead at the Yasukuni Shrine where 14 convicted war criminals were memorialized. They believed they had to show the Chinese public that they stood firmly against Japan’s failure to acknowledge its wartime guilt."

I don't agree with you, Susan. Actually, from 2001 to 2006, Junichiro Koizumi visited Yasukuni Shrine every year. I would like to ask you, why Chinese reaction against the visits were so differnt every year?

April in 2005, huge demonstration occurred agsinst Japanese conslate in Shanghai, as you know. On the other hand, 2006's visit was done on August 15, and it was the day that Chinese government strongly insisted that Japanese Prime Minister should never visit this day. But just small demonstration ocurred. If you are correct, I think very huge demonstration should have occured in 2006, but it didn't.

I think the difference of Chinese reaction between 2005 and 2006 was due to their diplomatic issue, that is, China didn't want Japan to be a permanent member of Security Council. So they created the demonstration to put the screws on Japan to give up her desire.

In addition, Japanese Prime Minister visited the Shrine many times after 1951, but Chinese Goverment had not protested before 1985.

To APA:

Culture revolution is nothing to do with a bait-and-switch tactic. You were talking about events 20 years before Culture revolution.

By the way, what genocide in Tibet you are talking about? Care to share? Some simple facts, please. In this regard, I do know who is the one has been brainwashed. You are not alone though.

Answer me some simple questions before go deeper:
1. When did Tibet became an independent country?
2. When China "invade" Tibet, where is American ambassadr? Killed? fleed? or ...
3. Why Dalai Lama want to be a member og Chinese communist Party? Why he failed to become one?

xie:

Susan L. Shirk and American cannot understand Chinese simply because it is American who Killed millions of Japanese, NOT Chinese; It is ten of millions of Chinese were killed by Japanese, Not American, in the world war II.

If it were Chinese who killed millions of Japanese in world war II, Today's Chinese will happy to look forward too.

Make no mistakes, all Chinese appreciated what American did to Japanese in World War II.

What is the chance Japanese one day will seek revenge against American?

Apa:

Josh, I can't speak for Michael C., but I don't think he's the one who has been brainwashed. The Cultural Revolution was a complete humanitarian disaster; a bait-and-switch tactic to root out those "comrades" with ideas that didn't tow the party line. If you need a more immediate example, China's government is currently engaging in genocide against the Tibetan people whose land they have been illegally occupying for almost 60 years. That has been documented by numerous human rights groups, other governments and the Tibetan Government in exile.

The Japanese have things they need to own up to. Manchuria, Nanking, the Philippines, the comfort women, just to name a few. But China, like every nation, should atone for its own misdeeds before demanding apologies from abroad or stirring up xenophobic hysteria to distract from domestic turmoil.

Anonymous:

I don't think Hu's visit is trying to appeal to a domestic audience. If anything, the Chinese population already has a general anti-Japanese sentiment, Hu's visit won't make himself more popular is not less popular. The Chinese government do have a good reasons to mend ties with Japan though, economy for one, and to avoid further escalation in hostile relations that wouldn't be beneficial for china's development.

Having said that, I don't think Japans leader's attitude toward their history is something trivial recently made serious by its Asian neighbours for political purposes, if the German government dedicate a shrine to Hitler and attempt to deny the holocaust it would cause outrage in the west just as Japanese actions did in the east, I don't think any political motivation (be it Jiang or Hu) was necessary for the increasing anti-Japanese sentiment. I am quite surprised at how most in North America dosn't realize this.

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John:

To mend with Japan is to maintain political stability in the SE Asia region. Since the Iraq war, the U.S. has her hands full. Iran's ambition to nuclear weapons makes the world a more dangerous place to live in since 9/11. Do we need another distraction? While many think that China is a rising superpower economically, no one mentions this status comes with responsibility. I think the North Korea nuclear crisis would get a lot worse if China did not intervene. Just this alone should prove China has no ill intention whatsoever in this new political move in Japan.

Anonymous:

The Chinese are hedging their economic bets with Japan, as they already have investments from EU and very good customers in USA. Japan also needs China (and India) for the fact that these are indisputable growth areas, as EU is more or less a matured economy and as USA is heading for a recession with the mortgage mess and the consumer credit crunch.

The Asian-Pacific block has a lot more potential and the region is ever so slowly firming up to be a solid block. Follow the economic growth opportunities and old wounds will heal themselves!

Josh:

Michael C.

You are so ignorant about China. I am not aware of any genocide in China even though I grew in China under Mao's period. Cultural revolution is a bad event in China's history. There are tremendous chaos, destruction and political prosecution, but there is no massive killing or genocide in cultural revolution. I think that you are brain-washed by all those partial truths and exageration from the dissidents.

I think that the chinese government has a point. If you are an American, would you accept the japanese official line of attacking Pearl harbor is an act of self-defense?

I also disagree with Susan Shirk' comment that Chinese government is quite fragile. Quite the contrary, the chinese are quite content with their government today. I don't think that you will see an uprising of chinese people to topple their government soon. The comment on China almost borders on paranoia thinking. We american is no less nationalistic than the Chinese. In all the public education system, children pledge allegiance with the country everyday (The Chinese did not do it even in Mao' heydays). We are reminded as the greatest country in the world. We attacked Iraq as a self defense against terrorism.

Rishikesh Kumar:

This visit cannot seen as "Ice melting" or "stocking fire" visit because in recent past china used to ignore their bilateral defence or border problem for the sake of economic benefit. Remarkebaly, one can see the same situation with India where china keep sidelined the border tussle issue so same with other country as well. So we should have to keep eye on the diplomatic changes going around in the world. Everybody maneuvering policy according to economic benefits.

Michael C:

It seems the poison of nationalism is fated to forever rear its head across the shared world, and all who lose themselves in its dogmatic seduction will be forever self-righteous until their children start coming home in body bags.

When will the Chinese stop martyring themselves for the sake of posture? The same country which commited a genocide against its own people is worried about worship at a shrine which predates their own murderous cultural revolution? How many people in China would say their peace at a shrine to Mao? It's hypocricy justified by the poison of nationalism.

Jarvis:

I think China good. Japan good two. I want go Japan two year ago for dog. My leg hurt.

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