Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

China to make good on neighbors

By Lu Chao (China Daily) Updated: 2012-12-17 07:51

But many experts think otherwise. They say that, as an experienced statesman, Abe would adopt a pragmatic diplomatic policy by first strengthening the US-Japan alliance and then restoring the Sino-Japanese strategic and mutually beneficial relationship. Masahiko Komura, LDP vice-president, has said that Abe would try his best to put Sino-Japanese ties back on the right track. Other far-sighted Japanese politicians are likely to stop a future Abe government from adopting an anti-China strategy. Moreover, Japanese businesspeople will not tolerate further deterioration in Sino-Japanese economic relations.

For Japanese people, the revival of their national economy and sharing of prosperity with their Asian neighbors are more attractive propositions. In other words, the prospects of Sino-Japanese look optimistic in the long run.

Compared with Sino-Japanese ties, relations between Beijing and Seoul have been more stable, though the result of the ROK presidential election will have a major impact on inter-Korean relations and Northeast Asian dynamics. The ROK election seems to be a race between Park Geun-hye of the ruling Saenuri Party (New Frontier Party) and Moon Jae-in of the main opposition Democratic United Party. But given the two candidates' political beliefs, we can safely say China-ROK relations will continue to advance in a steady way irrespective of who between the two wins.

Contrary to ROK President Lee Myung-bak's blatant pro-US foreign policy, Park and Moon both have underlined a "balanced" diplomacy. As far as the possibility of a China-US standoff in Northeast Asia is concerned, despite their disagreements, the two countries have a common interest in upholding the fundamental interests of the ROK and avoiding a conflict. Also, Seoul is likely to take a neutral stance in a possible China-US conflict, which is beneficial to the healthy development of China-ROK relations.

The result of the ROK election will have little impact on the US-ROK alliance, though.

Disputes over islands between China and Japan, and the ROK and Japan are not insurmountable problems. They are, however, diplomatic tests for the new leaderships of the three countries, which are expected to judge the situation rightly and place their faith in peaceful negotiations.

During the next five years, China, Japan and the ROK will embark on new strategic cooperation and there is reason for the new leaderships to be confident and optimistic about advancing the trilateral cooperation mechanism.

We cannot choose our neighbors but we can work with them to create a better neighborhood. Adopting good-neighborly policies is the common aspiration of wise leaders and making enemies out of neighbors is bad diplomacy that can never enjoy popular support.

As long as China unswervingly implements the diplomatic guidelines given by the 18th Party Congress, its relations with neighboring countries will improve and the prospects of China, Japan and the ROK joining hands to create a better Asia will come true.

The author is director of Border Area Research Institute, affiliated to the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences.

(China Daily 12/17/2012 page9)

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