Thursday, April 12, 2007

Japan and China Grow Closer

Sources: AP, UPI, Edge Daily

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao “heralded” warmer ties with Japan this week, as he visited Japan. This is the first visit to Japan by a Chinese prime minister in over seven years, continuing the recent détente between the two Asian powers. This is notable, because despite the harsh rhetoric leveled at Japan from China, China is Japan’s number one trading partner. This visit has defrosted some of the tensions between the two states, as Premier Wen’s warm personality has won some fans in Japan.

There are still several deep divides between the two states. There are still disputes over territorial waters, the status of Taiwan, and, most strikingly, the Japanese shrine honoring the war heroes (or criminals, depending on which side of the debate you are on). This is the most divisive issue between the two states, and Premier Wen held back little when he urged Japan to take responsibility for World War II war crimes. This division was made worse with former Prime Minister Koizumi’s visits to the shrines. Wen also discussed the growing economic ties between Japan and China, and despite the conflicting claims of oil and gas reserves, Wen encouraged both states to jointy develop the areas.

Japanese and Chinese companies heeded Premier Wen’s advice, as energy companies from both states agreed to potentially develop the projects together. Nippon Oil Corp and the Chinese National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) signed a long term cooperation accord, although few specifics were mentioned. However, this is expected to expand trade of crude oil, oil products, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

Question: Could a Sino-Japanese axis possibly lead to something along the lines of the old ECC or the modern EU?

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