China must cool down

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China must cool down

There are two ways of seeing the world: the bird’s-eye view and worm’s-eye view. China, which has traditionally seen the world through the former lens, focusing on macroscopic and strategic aspects, seems to have scrapped its ageold habit.

Unilateral cancellation of a summit meeting with Japan is a good example. China boycotted the meeting, which was slated for Oct. 29 in Hanoi, on grounds that Japan wrongly announced the results of an earlier meeting between foreign ministers of the two countries. China went so far as to use coarse rhetoric such as “propagation of wrong facts,” “distortion of our position,” and “harming the atmosphere.”

Such a move can be interpreted as a demonstration of its strong will to not budge an inch when it comes to sensitive issues like territorial disputes over the Senkaku Islands — or Diaoyu Islands in Chinese. But it seems to be a pennywise and pound-foolish action because having close dialogue with Japan is more beneficial to the interests of both China and the Northeast Asian region.

Lately, the U.S. has been pursuing an outspoken engagement policy in Asia primarily to hold China in check. The United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has stressed the strategic significance of Asia by announcing that the U.S. will continue to take a leading role in Asia in the future.

Her remarks can be summed up as a proclamation that the U.S. will not yield its supremacy in Asia to China. Under these circumstances, China’s attempt to pressure Japan over territorial disputes will only invite stronger U.S.-Japan ties and encourage U.S. intervention.

One of the most effective ways for China to deal with the U.S.’ challenge in Asia would be to improve relations with its Asian neighbors. Consolidating cooperative ties with South Koreaa and Japan in particular, would be the best way for China to deter the lingering ambition of the U.S. in the Pacific arena.

But the ever-growing conflict between China and Japan explicitly shows how difficult it is to form a regional community for co-prosperity in the area. Even though the three countries have agreed to establish a secretariat in Seoul next year, Korea’s role would be limited, unless China and Japan demonstrate a genuine sense of reconciliation and cooperation.

China also has conflicts with other countries in the South China Sea. We believe it will be in the interest of China to show harmony and cooperation
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