Sat, May 10, 2008 - Page 3 News List

China may urge Japan policy shift: academics

'FOURTH COMMUNIQUE' Japan has changed tack by simultaneously developing ties with China and Taiwan, but Beijing could change all this, a forum in Taipei heard

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The so-called "fourth communique" recently signed by China and Japan was more symbolic than substantive, a group of academics said in Taipei yesterday, warning that China might demand that Tokyo take a more negative stance on the Taiwan issue as Japan vies for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

The political document and Chinese President Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤) trip to Japan, including gestures such as playing ping pong with a Japanese university student and offering to give Tokyo a pair of pandas, were China’s efforts to distract the world’s attention from the Tibet issue, said Liu Shih-chung (劉世忠), former deputy director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Research and Planning Committee.

The meeting was also a way for Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda to boost his waning popularity in Japan, Liu said at a forum hosted by the Taiwan Thinktank.

While a number of foreign political observers interpret Hu’s rare state visit to Japan as a sign of warming relations between the two historical rivals, academics in Taiwan, however, said the visit revealed that while China and Japan are willing to move forward on issues such as security, fighting terrorism and environmental protection, Japan would most likely stick to its usual political policies, including those on Taiwan.

Before Hu’s trip, there was a lot of speculation that China and Japan would sign a fourth communique in which Beijing would ask Japan to change its approach to “respect and understand” the “one China” policy to one of “support” for “one China.”

“Just because China did not get what it wants this time, it does not mean it would not make the demand next time when Hu goes back to Hokkaido in three months for the annual G8 summit,” said Li Ming-juinn (李明峻), deputy secretary-general of the Taiwan Society of International Law.

Lai I-chung (賴怡忠), deputy director of the Democratic Progressive Party’s Department of International Affairs, told the forum that, unlike in the past, Japan is taking the approach of simultaneously developing relations with both China and Taiwan.

In the past, he said, Japan temporarily ceased negotiations with Taiwan while Tokyo launched dialogs with China.

“But, interestingly enough, 48 hours before the signing of the fourth communique with Beijing, Japan and Taiwan signed an aviation agreement. It shows that Japan is treating its relations with Beijing and Taiwan with equal importance,” he said.

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