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Back to the Future: Instability of the Sino-Japan Relationship in the 21st Century

Tue, June 23, 11:05am to 1:00pm, South Building, Floor: 5th Floor, S519


China’s rising is not only a theoretical argument or a strategy adopted by China. It has become a fact that deeply influences the interaction between itself and other countries, in particular in East Asia. Japan, another major power in East Asia, faces this situation and has actively adopted a more conservative and military-oriented strategies to protect its own interests globally. This paper argues that the development of Sino-Japan relationship resulted from China’s rising has brought East Asia repeating the history of Japan’s rising in the end of 19th century. The comparison of Sino-Japan relationships in the end of 19th century and in the early of 21 th century shows high similarity, which is worrisome since military conflicts between the two countries came in the end in the 19th century. Specifically, the shrinking power gap, the enlarging discrepancy of international status, and the risk-seeking attitude of challenging state which lead the initiation of Sino-Japan war in 1894 have fit the description of recent development between the two countries. Hence, if war shall be prevented, it is necessary to create a “new normal” relationship between China and Japan through more conversation and cooperation between them in military, economic, and civil aspects. With more interactions, the two countries may be able to decrease misperception and shift their risk propensity toward each other; thus may be able to avoid the reoccurrence of 1894 tragedy.