Chapter 6: A Regional Partner or a Threatening Other? Chinese Discourse of Japan’s Changing Security Role in East Asia
Rex Li 1. INTRODUCTION China and Japan are both key actors in East Asia and they share a wide range of economic and trade interests. Their geographical proximity and cultural aﬃnity have helped them develop close links with each other over the years. Yet their relationships are complex, turbulent and at times bitter. Historically, when China was powerful, Japan was weak; when Japan became stronger, the Chinese empire began to crumble. Today, the situation is rather unique in that both countries are major powers in their own right. Japan has established itself as an economic superpower whose inﬂuence in the world economy is extremely signiﬁcant. More recently, Japanese politicians have become more candid in articulating their political aspirations. In particular, they have expressed their desire to become an ‘ordinary’ nation and to play a more prominent role in regional and international aﬀairs (Hughes and Krauss, 2007). At the same time, China is widely regarded as a rising power with growing economic strength and military capabilities. China’s gradual integration into the international community has certainly increased its political inﬂuence in the global arena.1 A crucial question often raised by academics and policy-makers is: how will the relationship between the two East Asian powers develop in the coming years? In terms of regional security, how will China handle its relationship with a Japan that is playing an increasingly prominent and active role in East Asian security? To what extent will China be prepared to cooperate with Tokyo...
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