Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

A different approach needed

By Jin Ying (China Daily) Updated: 2013-08-26 09:40

Caroline Kennedy will be expected to temper Japan's belligerence when she becomes the US ambassador in Tokyo

Caroline Kennedy, daughter of former US President John F. Kennedy, has been nominated to be US Ambassador to Japan. For China, the question is what role she will play in the relations between the United States, Japan and China at a time when relations between China and Japan have soured, and relations between China and the US have good momentum.

China and Japan have fundamentally different views of history and territorial disputes over the Diaoyu Islands and East China Sea. Although complicated, these questions can be resolved so long as the two sides negotiate with each other calmly. The trouble is that the US, because of its alliance has shown partiality toward Japan rather than taking a neutral position. This has fuelled not only the resurgence of right-wing militarism in Japan, but also nationalism in China, pushing East Asia into a situation that is becoming difficult to control.

Many analysts have questioned Kennedy's lack of diplomatic experience. But she can always bear in mind the nightmares caused by the US' military interventions in Korea and Indochina, and the US' experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. She will be aware of the consequences of the US being dragged into a pointless war in Asia by Japan?

Kennedy should show impartiality toward China and Japan, a posture conducive to taking the heat out of the dispute between the two countries, and she should persuade Japan to pursue a more rational track of consultation and negotiation.

Kennedy can also promote trilateral economic cooperation and trade. According to Eurostat figures published in mid-August, the eurozone grew by 0.3 percent in the second quarter of this year. In the same period, the US' economy grew by 0.4 percent and Japan's economy grew by 0.6 percent. The Chinese economy, meanwhile, grew by 7.5 percent. This means that for the first time since the outbreak of the global financial crisis at the end of 2008, the US, China, Japan and Europe, the four major economies in the world, all registered growth. Although it is too soon to conclude that the crisis is over, there does seem to be some light at the end of the tunnel at last.

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