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Should we boycott Japan goods?

By Mei Xinyu  (China Daily)

13:16, August 27, 2012

The dispute between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands has triggered large demonstrations in several Chinese cities, with many protestors calling for a boycott of Japanese products in response to Japan's illegal occupation of the islands.

This calls for some serious thought. A country's import capacity is one of its sources of power. The higher its imports, the greater its potential influence will be on the exporting country. To secure its overseas market, an exporting country's government and enterprises have no option but to accept the rules and laws - some times even at odds with their own - set by the importer. The Toyota quality crisis in the United States two years ago is a case in point.

In this regard, boycotting Japanese products would be a practical approach to punish Japanese right wing activists for trying to arouse ultra-nationalist sentiments in Japan. China, strong as it is today, is indeed in a position to use its "importer's power". It is, after all, the world's second largest importer and its annual import growth rate is more than twice of that of the world average in the past decade.

Also, China's current account surplus and foreign exchange reserves (largest in the world) will ensure that it retains its huge import capacity. This is especially true when it comes to Japan, because China is one of the largest markets for Japanese products.

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