Dr. Ahmad Rashid Malik
They must look for a good relationship to significantly uplift Asian prosperity. Both countries faces short- and long-term issues and mutually they could overcome these difficulties no matter how difficult they may be.
Recently, both countries signed a $29 billion currency swap agreement aimed at enhancing their financial outlook. Amid trade tensions with Washington, the two signed over 500 business deals at a value of more than $2.6 billion, ranging from infrastructure, energy and car projects to the currency swap pact.
Their ties have moved from competition to collaboration. Both nations have proved they need to be friends and avoid any kind of controversy. Wartime history, territorial disputes in the East China Sea, deep-rooted distrust and hostility, regional competition and the U.S.-Japan military alliance are serious threats to their mutual ties and both nations are careful of that.
In fact their relations were much deteriorated after 2010 than at any time in the recen past. Relations were improved during 1970 and until 2010 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has seen the ups and downs of this relationship and looks more careful at this time. "China and Japan are neighbors and partners, and we will not be a threat to each other," Abe said.
They also signed more than 50 agreements to work together on infrastructure development in Asia, proof of a Japanese commitment to partner on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). As U.S. President Donald Trump has waged a trade war against China, Tokyo has become an essential trading partner of Beijing. Japan possesses sophisticated technology to pass on to China in a competing manner under any trade agreement.
China is a huge emerging market and Japan can play a significant role in it. To some extent, Japan could replace the dependency on the United States. The United States has been withdrawing from many multilateral arrangements and this could be beneficial for both China and Japan to keep expanding their mutual technological ties.
The growing conflict between Washington and Beijing also worries Tokyo. Abe's nationalist tendencies also worry Beijing but now they are above that level and moving toward reconciliation. Much wisdom is needed to overcome their differences, which is prevailing at this time.
If the relations remain stable, this will serve the basis of interest for the two countries. In the present international situation, China and Japan have become more important; the two countries could alter the international order and look for peace and stability in East Asia.
Beijing would welcome Japan's involvement in China's overseas infrastructure projects. "China welcomes Japan to take part in the Belt and Road Initiative," Abe said, referring to President Xi Jinping's signature push to link economies into a China-centered trading network. The BRI has the capacity to lower down Japan and China's differences and build a common future and tranquility.
Both nations would like to avoid a trade war. They are more interested in building mutual prosperity and goodwill. Their common efforts would help promote globalization at a time of U.S.-led trade war and conflict in world politics. With highly complementary economies, China and Japan could be the engine of production for the rest of Asian nations.
In the two countries' relations, Japanese-Chinese collaboration could lead them toward success. Trade between China and Japan reached $300 billion in 2017, making China Japan's second-largest trading partner, while Japan is China's third-biggest. For Japanese companies China is the most suitable place for their investment.
Around 30,000 Japanese firms currently have investments in China helpingTokyo's investment in Beijing grow to more than $100 billion. This is a highly lucrative business. It is better for Japan to invest in China than to look for competition or rivalry in the South China Sea or any other theater.
It is not good for Japan to look toward a dispute with China and ignore the U.S.-led conflict with China. It is a good move to build the economies of East Asia together. Leaders of China and Japan announced they had agreed to boost economic cooperation, not to pose a threat to each other and push for more cooperation on innovation, environmental protection, health and welfare.
It is in their mutual interest to maintain a long-term stable China-Japan relationship, which is also beneficial to the stability of the region and the world. They should never commit direct aggression against each other, but rather act like good neighbors.
The writer is a consultant at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad. He writes on East Asian affairs. Contact him at email@example.com.