Even as the U.S. and China are preparing for what is termed the most important heads of state-level meeting in a decade, Japan has come out strongly for healthy ties between the world's two largest economies which happen to be political adversaries as well.
It is important that the world's No.1 economy and China, which is the world's second-biggest economy along with Japan, communicate and take on responsibilities in the international community, Japanese foreign minister Seiji Maehara told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.
China's red-hot economic growth and a corresponding momentum in the country's political might have forever change the Asian power balance. The Japanese fret China's rise and the possibility of Beijing emerging as a more influential partner of Washington, relegating Japanese interests to the background. The U.S losing dominance in the Taiwan Strait to China is not a welcome development for Japan and the country's think-tanks are seeking ways to remain a substantial ally of the U.S.
Maehara's comment on Wednesday reflects a line of thinking in Japan that Tokyo needs to think out of the box and not see Sino-US ties in a limited context based on threat-perception.
Chinese President Hu Jintao, who arrived in the U.S. on Tuesday, and President Barack Obama will hold a summit meeting today.
The conventional wisdom in Washington and Tokyo is that although China’s rise is a significant development in East Asia, it will not drastically alter the power structure in the region as long as Japan and the U.S. keep their security pact intact and proactively engage each other.
Joseph S. Nye, who authored the US Department of Defense's report on security strategies in East Asia, known as the 'Nye Report', wrote in 2001 in Oxford Journal:
In other words, the rise of China as a military power, like its economic re-emergence, must be taken seriously as a new factor in the region. But China will not be a global challenger to the US, nor will it be able to exercise regional hegemony so long as the United States stays involved in East Asia and maintains its alliance with Japan.
At the same time, the US has a reason to engage China in a meaningful way for its own self interest. Nye writes: Nowhere is this more true than in East Asia where the United States can also benefit from participating in one of the most dynamic parts of the world economy. To protect those interests America’s alliance with Japan and engagement of China as a normal country remain the appropriate long-run US strategies.
Mehara underlined the importance of healthy US-China ties for the stability and development on the region. For these two countries to have stable and good relations will contribute to the stability and development of the world, so we want the two leaders to discuss issues of concern frankly and have a positive summit, he said.