See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Chinese Web Users Are Skeptical as China and Japan Resume Official Dialogue

Biantailajiao's political cartoon on APEC: key figures in the power play: Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo, Abe, Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S President Obama, and Korean Park Geun-hye. Non-commercial use.

Biantailajiao's political cartoon on APEC. Key figures in the power play: Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Barack Obama, and Korean President Park Geun-hye. Non-commercial use.

China and Japan have agreed to improve ties after nearly two years of tense diplomatic standoff over a territorial row, a tentative sign of a thaw in relations between Asia’s two largest economies ahead of a gathering of world leaders in the Chinese capital.

The announcement paves the way for a symbolic handshake to be witnessed at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit next week in Beijing, where Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to sit down one-on-one with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe for the first time.

The two nations are at loggerheads over a set of islands in the East China Sea called the Diaoyu in China and the Senkaku in Japan. The islands are claimed by China, but in effect controlled by Japan. Beijing is also angry about what it sees as Tokyo’s unwillingness to fully recognise its atrocities during the Second World War when it occupied China.

Large-scale anti-Japanese protests took place in China in 2012 in reaction to Japan's move to nationalise the disputed islands. The protests turned into riots in a number of cities. Relations between the two nations have hit a historic low since diplomatic ties were resumed more than three decades ago. From state leaders’ public speeches to English op-eds authored by prominent diplomats, Beijing and Tokyo have been engaged in a game of diplomatic brinkmanship that has included fighter jets scrambling and ship collusion at sea.

But a constant trade of accusations towards each other will likely subside after a four-point agreement was reached between senior Chinese and Japanese officials on Friday, with both nations agreeing to establish a crisis management mechanism to put their relations back on track.

The two sides have agreed to “gradually resume political, diplomatic and security dialogue” through various multilateral and bilateral channels and to make efforts to build political mutual trust, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

But the island dispute remains a flash point for stoking nationalism in both nations as well as a major stumbling block in achieving any substantial breakthrough in relations between the two nations.

In response to the bilateral agreement, many Chinese netizens have taken to social media to voice their doubts. Beijing-based journalist Liu Hua pointed out that the agreement has not addressed the territorial dispute:

转发四点共识,中日双方的表态对比着看会很有意思。从遣词造句来看,每一点共识应该都经过了双方的反复讨论。以第三点为例,最后的落脚点是中日双方认识到围绕“紧张局势”存在不同意见,而非围绕“岛屿主权”存在不同意见,这样回避了具体的岛争等问题。

I am now reposting the four-point agreements. It would be very interesting to compare the statements from China and Japan. From how they are worded, each and every point has been deliberated repeatedly. Take point three, the focus is the difference of opinions between China and Japan concerning “the intense situation” rather than focusing on “island territorial dispute” per se. By doing so, it has somehow avoided the island sovereignty issue.

Current affairs commentator Wang Chong, who is known for his nationalistic stand, said on his Weibo account:

中日四点共识,我没看出日本哪里让步了。真看不出来!

Four-point agreement between China and Japan. I don't see any sign of Japan's compromise. I truly don't!

Baiyun Suixing Biji, a resident in northeast China, wasn't content as there haven't been any concrete agreements on the territorial and historical disputes:

把它和已承认争议联系起来是非常牵强附会的做法,这是一个有很大随时反口空间的活话,主权争议没有承认,历史问题又未有任何实际承诺保证,要是因为得到一个这样虚而不实的所谓共识自己都放弃了底线,答应正式会谈不得不说这将是一个严重外交失分,这真是自己打了自己之前说的话的脸,只能说呵呵了 

It doesn't make much sense to make any association between it and the already existing disputes. The agreement has created enough room for any disobedience of the rules. If there is no recognition of the territorial dispute, there will be no guarantee to solving the historic problems. It's would be a diplomatic loss to say yes to a formal meeting and give up the bottom line for such a vague and fake agreement. It's no different than slapping its own face. I am speechless.

Xu Xiangyun, a university deputy chair in Jiangxi province, believed that the agreement is meant to fool China:

钓鱼岛岛也购了,靖国神社也参拜了,侵略历史也否定了,集体自卫权也解禁了,满世界也把中国骂遍了,安倍现在为了自己支持率,为了国内经济,又在糊弄中国人了!真有人会上当?

Japan has bought the Diaoyu Islands, their top leaders have visited the Yasukuni Shrine [to mourn the soldiers who died in the Second World War] and denied their invasion in history. They have re-enacted the right to collective self-defense and keep criticizing China around the globe. Now Shinzō Abe wants to increase his popularity and rescue the domestic economy, he is fooling China again. How can people believe that?

 JyoShinn said:

感觉中日关系不会突然转好,接下来就看美国老大哥的态度了。

I feel that Sino-Japanese relations will not suddenly become good, we will have to see what kind of attitude that the US, the big boss, holds.

Our work building bridges across cultures, languages and perspectives is more urgent than ever before.

Learn more about Global Voices »

Donate now

Close