Japanese strategy to China isn’t so tough anymore

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s three-day official trip to China through Saturday put priority on conjuring up images of friendliness, despite persistent differences over security and territorial issues.


Leading up to talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing, Abe had been discreetly omitting the word ”strategy” in public speeches when referring to his pet concept of a ”free and open Indo-Pacific” in consideration of China, which has regarded it as having hostile connotation, according to Japanese government sources.


The concept, put forth by Abe in 2016, involves Japan’s intention to boost relations with countries from Asia to as far as Africa that share such universal values as democracy and the rule of law, in an indirect counter to China’s growing clout in the vast region.


photo credit to: https://www.independent.co.uk

On Oct. 12, he said in an interview with Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV, ”From the standpoint of a free and open’ Indo-Pacific,’ Japan can cooperate with China.


Around April, Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a governmental meeting in Beijing following a trip to Japan that the ”Indo Pacific strategy” should not be mentioned when discussing cooperation between the two countries, and his request was unofficially conveyed later to the Japanese side, ahead of the Chinese premier’s visit to Tokyo in May.


Using several channels, Japanese officials told China that the strategy is not in conflict with Xi’s signature initiative of connecting countries along the ancient Silk Road trade routes more closely and expressed Tokyo’s readiness to cooperate on the project.


On July 17, at a joint press conference with European Council President Donald Tusk in Tokyo, he also said, ”I want to strengthen the alliance (with the European Union) under the Indo-Pacific strategy”.


But as Abe’s visit to Beijing drew close, the Chinese side again communicated to the Japanese government about its dissatisfaction with usage of the concept, according to the sources.


Reference: Abe’s pet strategy watered down to show consideration for China


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