No head of state gets embarrassed the way China’s President Xi Jinping is getting humiliated over failure to secure a state visit to Japan. Xi Jinping was scheduled to visit Japan in April this year, but then the Chinese virus outbreak got it postponed. Thereafter, Beijing kept pushing for the elusive state visit, but first, the Shinzo Abe government and then the Suga government kept snubbing Jinping.
Till now, the Chinese President was being sidelined subtly, but now Japan seems to be ignoring him rather bluntly. As per a Nikkei Asia report, Japan’s new Ambassador to China, Hideo Tarumi has disclosed that the two countries are yet to reach an agreement on the issue of setting a date for Xi Jinping’s elusive state visit to Japan.
Tarumi said, “We are not at the stage of discussing a concrete schedule.” The Japanese envoy has therefore dashed Xi Jinping’s hopes of visiting Tokyo and repair the Sino-Japanese relationship. This must be the first time that Japan has sidelined Xi Jinping in so many words.
Tarumi is an experienced diplomat and also a part of Japanese Foreign Ministry’s “China School” of diplomats, who speak Mandarin and have deep knowledge about the Chinese system. Tarumi’s knowledge about China is being clearly capitalised by the Suga administration to hit back at China.
In fact, Tarumi has not just said an indirect no to Xi Jinping’s Japan visit, but has also killed any possibility of a rapprochement between Japan and China. Xi wants to join the Japan-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. In November, the Chinese President even said that China would “favourably” consider joining the 11-member bloc.
However, Tarumi has suggested that Tokyo might not be able to accommodate China in the TPP trade agreement. The Japanese Ambassador said, “The TPP demands very high levels in terms of market access and rules.” The newly-appointed envoy actually hinted that China might not be able to offer the level of market access which the TPP demands.
Tarumi added, “It would be out of the question to bend the rules and insert exceptions.”
Tarumi did not stop here. He even raked up the issue of Chinese incursions into Japanese waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands. Chinese government vessels have made a record number of incursions into the Japanese waters this year.
The envoy described the situation as “completely unacceptable,” and added, “Japan has sovereignty [over the Senkakus] both historically and in terms of international law.”
By rejecting China’s plans to join the TPP trade agreement and raking up the Senkaku Islands issue, Tokyo is actually trying to shut all doors of cooperation between Japan and China. The Suga administration actually rakes the Senkaku Islands issue whenever China tries to explore any possibility of cooperation or secure a state visit for Xi Jinping to Japan. Japan is making it clear that it doesn’t wish to befriend China or even let the Chinese President visit Japan.