Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Remove hurdles for China-Japan trust

By Ye Xiaowen (China Daily) Updated: 2011-11-02 08:02

Remove hurdles for China-Japan trust

Will China's rise truly follow the path of peaceful development? That question, which is in the mind of many Japanese people, has made me constantly examine my own conscience, especially since former Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan told Chinese members of the 21st Century Committee for China-Japan Friendship last year, that China should learn from Japan's lessons and avoid taking the wrong paths during its rapid development.

Though Chinese leaders have repeatedly affirmed their devotion to peaceful development, many people in Japan are still concerned by the clarion cries that a rising China is a growing threat.

In fact, Japanese fears of the "China threat" are the main obstacle to developing trust between the two nations.

When this issue was raised at the third session of the fifth Committee for China-Japan Friendship in the 21st Century last week, former ambassador to China Anami Koreshige and I noted that the two countries have had good relations in the recent past despite their differences in values and systems. By transcending these differences they enjoyed friendly relations and co-existed peacefully. What a pity that the two sides seem unable to do the same now when their values and economies have become closer.

Former State councilor Tang Jiaxuan said that it should be a mission of both countries to enhance mutual political trust. But there will be no mutual trust unless both countries have an objective and constructive understanding of the other.

More than 100 million Japanese people have prospered from the country's development, the 1.3 billion Chinese people also aspire to better life.

But after a war-torn century that inflicted untold sufferings on the Chinese people, they have realized that a peaceful environment is their best and only chance for achieving a decent life, free from fears of starvation and invasion.

The world accepts that India and Thailand own aircraft carriers, why should it be any different for China? Having aircraft carriers doesn't mean India and Thailand will go to war, nor does it mean that China intends to stray from the path of peaceful development when it has an aircraft carrier. China's peaceful rise is not an excuse or just empty words intended to persuade, pretend or please, but an essential guarantee for its fundamental and long-term good.

China will remain a developing country for a long time to come, which determines that it must concentrate on modernization to solve its development and livelihood issues. It requires a peaceful and stable international environment and close cooperation and exchanges with the outside world.

Deng Xiaoping once remarked that certain troubles between the two countries could be left for coming generations who would have more wisdom. At the recent friendship session, Koreshige suggested that we are that generation.

I believe two points deserve the attention of both advanced countries such as Japan and emerging economies such as China.

The first is not to enforce one's own values and development mode on the other. The second is to accept and welcome the progress of emerging nations.

By using their joint wisdom, China and Japan together can continue to develop and maintain Asian and world peace and, in turn, will maintain Asian and world peace with their development.

China's rise will continue to be a handy excuse for some people's own virulent purposes. But China will continue to develop and get stronger and will create more opportunities for the region and the world. Only by mitigating and overcoming the fears of a China-threat can China and Japan increase mutual trust.

The author is vice-president of the Central Institute of Socialism, and a Chinese member of the 21st Century Committee for China-Japan Friendship.

(China Daily 11/02/2011 page8)

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