The deteriorating Japan-China relationship is not only the result of China’s unabated maritime advances or history issues. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who is using anti-Japan policies to advance his career, is also causing unnecessary friction. Due to his desire not to be regarded as pro-Japan — because he is a former ambassador to Japan and an expert on Japan – and his eagerness to please the bosses, he is taking an unnecessarily anti-Japan posture.
At the Japan-China foreign ministerial in Beijing on April 30, Wang pointed to the Chinese beef steak being served at the dinner and derided Japan for failing to help him with a project to export Japanese beef to China when he was ambassador, which, he said, actually inspired China to produce delicious beef.
Kishida did not touch the beef or drink any red wine in protest to this humiliating treatment and Wang’s arrogance.
At the beginning of this meeting, which was open to the press, Wang ignored Kishida’s greeting in Chinese “nihao [hello].” With the Chinese audience in mind, he stated smugly: “We will need to see Japan’s actual actions” when it comes to the improvement of bilateral ties.
After discussions started behind closed doors, Wang made one demand after another on Japan: to reflect sincerely on history and adhere to “one China policy,” to refrain from spreading the theory of China threat or China’s economic collapse; to abandon the sense of rivalry toward China; and to treat China as an equal.
Kishida had to instruct Foreign Ministry officials not to reveal the details of the discussion because this would aggravate the bilateral relationship further. He also asked Wang “not to do anything to provoke the popular sentiment in the other country.” Wang nodded.
Yet, Wang had no qualms breaking this promise. By Wang’s order, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website went on to publish the details of the meeting. This led the Japanese Foreign Ministry to consider lodging a protest.
Wang is not only eager to please President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, and other senior Chinese leaders; he is also sensitive to public opinion. As expected, soon after the details of the meeting were posted online, there was a proliferation of postings by netizens hailing Wang for “chastising little Japan.”
Wang’s ambition is to follow the career advancement path of his predecessor, Yang Jiechi, who became state councilor in charge of foreign affairs, a position just below the vice premier with direct access to the top leaders that is higher than a cabinet minister, so he wants to please both the leaders and the public by being anti-Japan and tries his best not to be seen as pro-Japan just because he is a Japan expert.
Wang’s self-centered anti-Japan posture was best illustrated when North Korea was launching ballistic missiles at the beginning of this year. At a time when the U.S., China, Japan, and the ROK needed to coordinate closely on the UN Security Council resolution, Wang simply refused to talk with Kishida on the phone.
Apparently, this was his retaliation for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s unexpected statement at the ASEAN+3 Summit last November about his “serious concerns regarding the continuing unilateral actions that heighten tension” in the South China Sea.
As long as Wang, who is only concerned about his selfish interests and career advancement, is in charge of Japan-China relations, there will never be any improvement in the bilateral relationship. (Summary)