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Posted on: Global Times, December 7th, 2016



Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s scheduled visit to Pearl Harbor to honor war victims in late December has caught wide attention. The visit, coupled with US Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s ongoing trip in Japan, sends a strong message about the alliance between the two countries at a time when the Obama administration is about to be replaced by US President-elect Donald Trump’s.


Many analyses hold that Japan’s rightist forces see getting rid of US control as their long-term goal. However, Abe, a representative figure of rightist politicians, has spent more efforts in consolidating the US-Japan alliance than any of his predecessors.


Trump has expressed his dissatisfaction over the alliance, demanding Japan share more of the cost of hosting US troops. It has been perceived that the alliance is facing uncertainties. But to China, the spat is about interests within the alliance. It will not affect the fact that the US-Japan alliance has become the largest source of military and political pressure over China’s rise. Relying on the US will be a long-term choice of Japan’s diplomacy if there is no breakthrough in the Sino-Japanese relationship. And as long as Washington continues to view Beijing as its top strategic rival, its grip on the US-Japan alliance will not change because of some specific conflicts with Tokyo.


The US has been increasingly guarded against China’s rise, which is also the deeper reason for the strain in Sino-Japanese ties. China sticks to the peaceful development policy, but other forces will take a long time to adapt to and accept it due to the fundamental changes we have brought to the world political grid.


China has done a good job given its location in one of the most geopolitically complicated regions and in an era when its rise can be felt even by the remotest countries. It hasn’t forged any hostile relationship with other powers, leaving room for maneuver with any competitor. While China’s relationship with Japan is more strained than with others, there are still high chances of peace. China has managed well various geopolitical troubles during its rise. The only scenarios for its involvement in a war may happen when something extreme pops up and the international landscape is upended. But we may not be able to address the haunting challenges of the US-Japan alliance. The alliance, a Cold-War product, shouldn’t have lasted till today, but it has survived regardless.


The US strategic encirclement of China looks to be strongly fortified, but it is subject to the erosion of time and won’t bring any real harm to China. The US and Japan are among the biggest trading partners of China. Globalization and the sophistication of military technology will make war so costly that the US and Japan cannot resort to it easily. China has no less strategic initiative than the US and Japan when dealing with them. As long as we keep militarily strong and stick to peace, we will always be the active party.


Sitting in a difficult position, China can continue to promote development under pressure. When China and other powers grow fully capable of adapting to each other, peace will prevail.


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