Symposium on “Win-Win Cooperation between China and Japan in the Marine Field”
Created On : 2018-09-14    Views : 111

On August 25th, Mr. Ito Go, Professor of Meiji University and Director of Japan Strategic Forum - a well-known think-tank, was invited to attend the Symposium on “Marine Cooperation in the New Era” at the invitation of Shanghai Academy.


Chinese and Japanese scholars and experts were invited to attend the symposium, which was hosted by Li Chunguang, researcher of Shanghai Academy.

Before the symposium, Li Chunguang delivered a speech on behalf of Shanghai Academy. He pointed out that this year coincides with the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up and also the 40th anniversary of the China-Japan Peace and Friendship Treaty, so for China it is also a very important milestone. It is hoped that under the environment of sound development of Sino-Japan relations, dialogue and communication will be further strengthened, opportunities for cooperation in the marine field will be jointly explored, the future of Sino-Japan marine cooperation be further examined, the ideas of Japanese academia and think tanks be understood, and more win-win cooperation be promoted.

Subsequently, Ito made a presentation on the cooperation between China and Japan in the marine field under the new situation.

Ito Gang: Win-win cooperation between China and Japan in the marine field in the new era 

Changes in the background of the times

Mr. Ito Go first introduced the development background, from the late 1980s to the present. He pointed out that the Japanese's understanding of China in the 1980s was merely a regional concept, and now it has risen to the level of great power relations.

At the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up, China has become the center of economic development in this century. Dramatic changes have occurred in the world landscape since the Cold War era, which are beyond the expectations of the United States and Europe: one is the rapid development of China's economy, and the other is the progress of social democracy in Asia.

Ten years ago, the concept of an Asian Community made the United States start to get nervous. Against this background, when it comes to Sino-Japan relations, the first thing to say is that China and Japan are “neighbors” who just can’t move. So in everyday life, the two sides must take care not to disturb the relationship. 

The gap between the rich and the poor in Asia and the position of the United States

Asia is a complex geographical region, and one of the complex problems is the gap between rich and poor countries. For example, the gap between the rich and the poor in ASEAN, Japan, and South Korea is very large, and is obviously larger than that across European countries.

Another aspect is the attitude of the United States towards Asia. For the United States, what status of Asian countries is the most reassuring for the United States? That is, the mode of existence under which China plus Japan equals zero. Between China and Japan, the United States would support China if Japan were a little stronger. And if China is going to be strong, the United States will support Japan, a model that has been in place before, aiming to ensure that neither of the two countries will become bigger or stronger.

During the Pacific War, Japan was relatively strong, so the United States supported China. After the war, China became independent, in this state, Japan became stronger again, then the United States began to support China again, and so forth.

For the United States, the best state of existence would be an Asia that lacked organized unity. For the United States, the most desirable state of being of Asian countries is neither far not near from each other.

  • China Collapse Theory and China Threat Theory

With the enhancement of China’s national strength, the United States and Japan have held two views towards China over the past 20 years: one is the theory of China collapse, the other is the theory of China threat. As a matter of fact, almost 30 years have passed so far, the theory of China collapse seems itself to have collapsed, and it turns out that instead of collapsing, China is growing ever stronger.

But this is no doubt a concern for the United States, because it wants to avoid a great power rise in Asia as much as possible. 

China and Japan are now the world's second and third largest economies respectively. In fact, one of the most dangerous ways of dealing with the relations between China and Japan is that people are often used to applying the views on domestic affairs to international affairs.

Japan has always been biased against China, and the Japanese holding the fiercest criticism have basically never been to China. Vice versa, the Chinese who have been criticizing Japan have never been to Japan. If you go to many places in Japan, you will find there are peasant associations, health care associations, and various associations that help each other in life. When it comes to social security, in terms of the system of social assistance, the Japanese also believe their society has such ways of mutual assistance and cooperation. It seems that this method of mutual assistance is completely contrary to natural laws. In terms of social security, Japan has a very large number of kinds of mutual assistance and aid. The new generation raised in this way, as compared with China and South Korea, has no advantages in the international community. When this generation grows up, they will find the international competition is so fierce and Japan is so stable that they won’t want to go abroad, which makes me very worried about Japan’s future.

  • Marine issues

There is an important conceptual gap on marine issues: the gap between China and Japan in their understanding of “public assets”. For example, parks or public places, the concept of the Japanese is: since this is a public place shared by everyone, we should take good care of it. The Chinese level of awareness in this respect is relatively weak.

Ocean and land are two completely different concepts, so when it comes to marine issues, the first thing to consider is the fact that the oceans are common to all. The oceans are common to all, and we should take good care of the common things.

As I’ve just said, the Japanese have always taken care of public properties, from this point of view, the Japanese also have contradictions, they do not completely take care of public things. Now the Japanese have gone to the Antarctic to hunt whales, I think it’s contradictory to the idea of protecting public properties that they advocate.

With regard to Asian cooperation, two problems have arisen in the process of cooperation between Asia and various countries, one is the veto power from China, the other is the obstacle from Japan. Let’s make a concrete analysis of such situation, geographically speaking, China is a very large country, so whenever the Japanese think of China, and whatever it is, whether it involves cooperation among various countries in Asia, or it involves institutionalizing something, the first thing to think about is whether it will be vetoed by China. The Japanese first wonder if it will be vetoed by China.

Japan and China can work together on many projects, and there are many opportunities for cooperation. In terms of long-term interests, to work together, the two sides must have a mechanism for mutual consultation and be able to sit down and talk, without being influenced too much by political factors.

China and Japan should set up a framework to find appropriate ways of cooperation and opportunities for long-term cooperation, establish an interactive mechanism, and reduce the impact of political factors. For Japan, the trade volume between China and Japan has already exceeded that between China and the United States. Against such a background of economic interdependence, both China and Japan, whether they are the one who gets the benefits or the one who temporarily suffers benefit losses, should have a sense of shared interests and responsibilities.

By Xu Tingting