The China-Japan Relationship and Asia-Pacific Regional Security

IR Working Paper 1996/7

Author/s (editor/s):

Stuart Harris

Publication year:


Publication type:

Working paper

Find this publication at:
IR Working Paper 1996/7 (PDF, 3.19MB)

Stuart Harris, 'The China-Japan Relationship and Asia-Pacific Regional Security', IR Working Paper 1996/7, Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University, October 1996.

The relationship between China and Japan is important but not trouble-free for both countries. Although there are common Japanese and Chinese interests in political stability, economic development and a peaceful international environment, and both see their bilateral relationship as critical, the dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands suggests deep antipathies exist between the two countries which can easily become difficult to control.

The bilateral relationship will be increasingly difficult to manage in the future for several reasons. The passage of time, subtle shifts in the relationship and the broader strategic issues now impinging on the attitudes of each to the other have reduced the importance of historic and cultural links and increased the sensitivity of the relationship. Both countries are concerned to a limited extent with the military modernisation of the other, and both see the actions of the other as having changed the strategic environment.

Provided the leaders on both sides can avoid an action-reaction process - and there are some signs that this need is recognised - Japan and China are unlikely to become overt adversaries. But neither are they likely to become close allies in the near future. A breakdown in the relationship, however, would have serious implications for regional security.

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