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Economic sanctions poor tool on Japan

By Liu Gang (Global Times)

09:56, July 26, 2012

Illustration: Sun Ying

Tensions between China and Japan have increased in recent days due to the Diaoyu Islands dispute. There have been voices in Chinese public opinion demanding China use economic sanctions as a means to deal with Japan.

However, considering the complicated international bilateral and multilateral relations involved, I think this idea is inappropriate and is not well thought out.

In 2010, Japan detained the Chinese captain of a fishing boat. In that case, China didn't openly admit that it employed economic sanctions against Japan, but in fact, China temporarily suspended rare earth exports to Japan.

This action prompted Japan to reconsider its own resource policies, and in particular made Japan realize that it cannot solely depend on one country for importing resources such as rare earth metals. This action also raised the guard of other countries like the US and complicated China's rare earths exports situation.

China has safeguarded its reputation and interests since the captain was released, but the side effects brought by the use of economic countermeasures have had lasting effects.

China and Japan are only separated by a narrow strip of water. China is Japan's biggest trading partner while Japan is China's third. Since the two have such a profoundly interdependent relationship, one party being quick to use threatening strategies toward the other is too casual a move and needs to be carefully considered. It's not a favorable choice for China.

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