China-Japan detenteA photo of China’s new missile destroyer “Shenzhen” entering Tokyo harbor flanked by a flotilla of Japanese ships made the front page of the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday. It was the first time a Chinese warship had sailed into a Japanese port in 73 years. The last time was when Chiang Kai Shek’s Nationalist Party held sway in China.
Complex articles about the presidential election in Korea may have overshadowed the “Shenzhen” story, but it must not be ignored.
The photo symbolizes the burgeoning friendship between China and Japan, two powerhouses in the region. That friendship is strengthening at an alarming rate.
Meanwhile, Korea is focused wholly on domestic issues.
Relations between China and Japan have been improving ever since the administration of Yasuo Fukuda, a pro-China figure, took office. Recently a delegation from the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan met in Beijing with Xi Jinping, a member of the standing committee of the political bureau of the Communist Party of China’s central committee.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Fukuda will pay a state visit to China either later this year or early in the new year. It is thought that he and President Hu Jintao of China will announce strategic and reciprocal relations.
In addition, high-ranking officials, including core economic cabinet members from both countries, are scheduled to hold a meeting on joint strategies.
China is rising as a military and economic superpower, and Japan is attempting to become an ordinary state that can wage war.
This partnership between the two countries threatens the peace and security of the Korean Peninsula. Throughout history, Korea has been afflicted by the shifting balance of power between our two neighbors.
Our best option is to maintain a strong military, but Japan and China have often been more powerful than us. So, diplomacy is very important. As the old maxim goes, we need to befriend nearby countries and antagonize only distant ones.
While it is important to sustain an alliance with the United States, it is also vital that we keep a status quo between China and Japan. In particular, we need to thaw relations with Japan, which have been frosty since the end of World War II.
We should consider practicality, not only moral and political issues. Our economy has been sandwiched between China’s and Japan’s for too long, and we must pursue diplomacy to keep the region balanced.