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Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Monday, April 01, 2002

China, US and Japan should Seek Common Ground: Analysis

The three major Asia-Pacific powers - China, the United States, and Japan - should seek a common ground to serve the needs for peace and security in the region and the world at large.
To better provide security guarantee to each other, all countries should embrace the notion of "self-restraint," realizing that their free actions are confined by other countries.


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The three major Asia-Pacific powers - China, the United States, and Japan - should seek a common ground to serve the needs for peace and security in the region and the world at large.

The US-Japan alliance
In the political and security fields, current China-US-Japan relations are not trilateral but bilateral - with China on one side and the US-Japan alliance on the other.

The US-Japan alliance was not weakened by the frequent economic squabbles between the two countries during the early 1990s but has been enhanced since the mainland-Taiwan relations were strained in the mid-1990s.

From the perspective of geographical surroundings, the United States and Japan are both maritime states, while China basically belongs to a continental, or a continental-maritime state.

Japan is fragile compared with the other two, depending heavily on a few key marine channels for the import of its strategic resources. Therefore, Japan has always been on red alert against any imaginable possibility of China "controlling the Pacific as well as Japan's maritime lifeline."

And maintaining its alliance with the United States is regarded by Japan to be an effective means to this end.

China poses no threat, backs Japan's wish to be "normal"
However, China - even as a rising economic power in the Asia-Pacific region - will not threaten Japan's national security. Neither will China take advantage of its favourable geographical position with its Taiwan island to control Japan's maritime lifeline, nor will it target its nuclear weapons at a non-nuclear capable Japan.

China can support Japan's wish to become a "normal state." However, in the international society with increasing interdependence, Japan will be accepted as a "normal state" only after it becomes peace-loving, bravely faces the past, and shows willingness to shoulder more responsibility for international and regional peace.

Under the framework of being a "normal state," Japan may also gain China's backing for its self-defence army's increased participation in the United Nations' (UN) peace-keeping missions. But the Japanese army should limit their actions within the scope of peace-keeping.

China will back Japan's efforts to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council only after Japan faces up to its history of aggression and is proved to be trustful over time.

Consistently obvious is China's willingness to forge a multilateral co-operative mechanism in Asia. China understands Japan's desire to maintain its alliance with the United States for some time out of security concerns.

But China hopes the ultimate security in the Asia-Pacific region will be founded on the multilateral security system involving all powers concerned - not on two confronting blocs.

China calls for multilateral security mechanism
China is determined to realize national reunification. It won't allow any interference into internal affairs from foreign countries. China will have no other choice but to resort to military action if the Taiwan authorities go to such extremes as to declare independence.

The United States, as the world's single superpower bearing favourable geographical surroundings, has always spared no effort to maintain its current international status. Some US hawkish politicians, who consider China will become a foe of the United States, propose that early preparation should be made for potential war with China in the future.

However, China won't pose any security threat to the United States either.

China will not oppose a US presence in the Asia-Pacific region. What China opposes is the US blockade against China. The United States should realize the formation of two rival blocs in the Asia-Pacific region will bring instability to the region.

China will pursue a multi-polarized world in a peaceful way. It will never take the initiative to break up the current world order.

On the Taiwan question, what China seeks is the legitimate reunification of the mainland and the island. A unified China will not threaten US maritime superiority.

For its own part, China also needs security commitments from the United States and Japan. They should appreciate China's position that the reunification of the mainland and Taiwan is in the vital interest of the Chinese people. The two countries should support and accept a unified China.

Both of them should realize a separated China serves as an uncertain factor in the Asia-Pacific region.

The US-Japan alliance should not target China, or threaten its national security. Any missile defence system developed by the United States and Japan to deal with the so-called "rogue states" should be limited. However, the current system threatens to fuel a new round of the arms race.

To dispel China's worry, the United States and Japan should work towards the establishment of a multilateral security mechanism, which should include countries with close ties with China, instead of continuing to enhance the bilateral security alliance, with the United States at the core.

To better provide security guarantee to each other, all countries should embrace the notion of "self-restraint," realizing that their free actions are confined by other countries.

It is a long and rocky path ahead for the three countries to establish a mutual security mechanism, for which they should be patient and prepared.

The authors are researchers with the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.


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