Facebook Twitter 新浪微博 Instagram YouTube Monday, Aug 22, 2016

Low expectations needed for NE Asia peace

(Global Times)    08:20, August 22, 2016

High-ranking diplomats from China, Japan and South Korea had a discussion on Sunday about the agenda and schedule of an upcoming meeting of their foreign ministers this week. The escalating tensions due to the Diaoyu Islands disputes between China and Japan and the deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea have heavily overshadowed the meeting.

The trilateral relationship is at its worst point for many years. Most experts and pundits agree that the situation is not in line with regional interests, but few of them can come up with feasible plans to remedy it.

The foreign ministers' meeting cannot be expected to produce anything significant. It is enough that the meeting is able to soothe the tensions and promote the symbolic value of talks.

However, the standoff in Northeast Asia has even made it hard to avoid an eventual physical confrontation between China and Japan. Many people believe that the US rebalance to the Asia-Pacific is the culprit. But Washington won't help Northeast Asia put an end to the estrangement in the region. On the contrary, the US has found it easy to instigate a fight between China, Japan and South Korea, and it will keep doing so.

All three know the standoff will lead to a circumstance that can harm all of them, but none of them have the willpower to break it. Thus, the current tensions cannot be ended in the short term.

Both Japan and South Korea demand China make major concessions: For Japan, it hopes China can stop raising WWII history to challenge Japan, greatly reduce the activity of the Chinese coast guard near the Diaoyu Islands, and will support Japan becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council; South Korea hopes China can impose heavy sanctions on North Korea, and drop its objections to the deployment of THAAD.

These concessions are unacceptable for China and the Chinese people. Beijing hopes Japan and South Korea can exercise enough restraint and stop stirring up tensions. However, it is also impossible for Tokyo and Seoul to compromise as Beijing expects.

Since no party is willing to step back, risk management has become the most important and practical task for all three countries. Since economic cooperation between China and South Korea can hardly avoid being damaged, Beijing and Seoul should bear in the mind the importance of reducing political instigation. China and Japan should try their best to keep away from physical confrontation, and if it happens, both sides must make sure there won't be a full-blown war.

Due to a lot of limitations, Northeast Asia cannot move to full-fledged cooperation any time soon. The three countries will have to endure these ups and downs.

Thus, we shouldn't lay too much hope on the prospect of regional cooperation, so that we won't be too disappointed when things go wrong. The stability of Northeast Asia could be built on low expectations. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor: Yuan Can,Bianji)

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