Chinese President Xi Jinping keeps getting embarrassed in his desperate attempts to woo Japan. For almost the past one year, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been trying to woo Tokyo. China has tried everything from phone calls at the highest level to a state visit by its Foreign Minister, but the Japanese government is simply not reciprocating.
Now, Beijing has made yet another attempt to appease Tokyo. A public opinion survey conducted by the Beijing-Tokyo Forum revealed that 45 per cent of Chinese people surveyed viewed China favourably. The percentage of Chinese people supposedly liking Japan is unusually high here, given the historically damaged Sino-Japanese ties. Nevertheless, Japan hasn’t fallen for the Chinese government’s attempt to use the opinion survey for pushing closer bilateral ties.
First and foremost, it needs to be understood that while 45 per cent of Chinese respondents were reported to be looking at Japan favourably, only 10 per cent of the surveyed Japanese people held a favourable view of China. The Xi administration wanted to tell Japan that it is trying to repair Sino-Japanese ties which shows in the increasingly favourable view of Japan within China. And that now, it is Japan’s turn to return the favour.
Yet, the Suga administration hasn’t fallen for China’s latest bid to woo Japan. Japan’s recently appointed Ambassador to China, Hideo Tarumi said, “In terms of Japanese sentiment towards China, we hope China can look into the reason causing the sentiment. Of course, we are willing to work with China to think about it and make suggestions if necessary.”
So, Tokyo’s message is loud and clear here- if Japanese people don’t like China, it is because of the Chinese government’s unbecoming conduct and nothing can be done about it unless the Communist nation learns to behave.
Tarumi also suggested that China is not yet in a position to join the Japan-led Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The Japanese Ambassador said, “President Xi said China will actively consider joining the CPTPP. But it remains to be seen whether China is ready to meet the higher requirements.”
Japan is actually stretching a desperate China here. Till now, Beijing has extended the olive branch to Japan several times- first, by pleading for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s elusive state visit to Tokyo, then by sending Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Japan and most recently, by downplaying the 83rd anniversary of the Nanking Massacre by Japanese troops during World War II.
However, the Suga administration has stonewalled all Chinese attempts to woo Japan. What Tokyo does is to keep asking Beijing to behave on issues like Chinese transgressions into Japanese waters near the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
At the same time, Japan is also not letting China enhance economic cooperation, by not giving in to Xi’s desire of joining the CPTPP.
Having failed in diplomatic attempts to woo Japan, China would have liked to play the Beijing-Tokyo Forum opinion survey findings. Yet, the Suga government has made it clear that it won’t reciprocate unless and until Beijing addresses the key concerns which create a sense of security threat in Tokyo from the Communist nation.