Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Is the "China Threat" Over? Kan chases down Wen in Brussels; Tokyo & Beijing make up

Looks like Asia business writer Bruce Einhorn was also spot on: Japan can't afford to fight with China (at least beyond short rounds of political theater that open historical wounds; stir up irrational fears; and inflame militant nationalism on both sides)...

On Monday, Chinese Premier Wen and Japanese Prime Minister Kan sat down for an unscheduled discussion at a conference in Belgium, the first meeting between leaders from the two countries since Tokyo seized the Chinese fishing boat in September. Analysts said the meeting signals normalized ties.

According to a Mainichi article, "Japan, China take first steps on road to mending relations," Kan attended the meeting at the last minute, looking for a chance to meet Wen:
Kan decided to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) at the last minute, looking for the chance to meet Wen as he faced hounding from opposition parties in the Diet over his government's handling of the collision and its aftermath.

(In this combination photo taken Monday, Oct. 4, 2010 Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan, left, and China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao are seen at the opening ceremony of an EU Asia summit in Brussels. Japanese diplomats said overnight that the leaders of Japan and China had agreed on the margins of the summit to resume high-level talks after an incident around disputed islands north-east of Taiwan. Text: Mainichi; Photo: AP/Yves Logghe)

"The improvement of Japan-China relations and continuation of our mutually beneficial strategic relationship is good news for the economies of both countries, the nations of Asia and the world," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said at an Oct. 5 morning news conference of the Kan-Wen meet.

According to a government source, before ASEM opened Japan had been preparing for a possible meet between Kan and Wen, and was waiting for China to respond to the proposal. When asked before his departure for Brussels if he was planning to meet Wen, Kan said that "nothing has been scheduled," though he had apparently been looking for a chance to do just that.

At the event, the conversation between Kan and Wen took on the form of a "natural encounter" in a corridor of the royal palace in Brussels after the ASEM leaders finished a working dinner. To avoid the impression that the meeting had been staged, the interpreters present did not translate from Japanese to Chinese, but conducted the meeting in English.

"We had a pretty natural conversation," Kan said of his talk with Wen, though it's still unclear who initiated the meet or what exactly the two leaders said.
Read the entire article at The Mainichi Daily News here.

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