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China's Changing Images of Japan, 1989-2001 - The Struggle to Balance Partnership and Rivalry

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  • 8/11/2019 China's Changing Images of Japan, 1989-2001 - The Struggle to Balance Partnership and Rivalry


    Chinas changing images of Japan, 19892001Gilbert Rozman

    Chinas changing images ofJapan, 19892001: the struggleto balance partnership andrivalry

    Gilbert Rozman

    Department of Sociology, 149 Wallace Hall, Princeton University,Princeton, NJ 08544, USA. Email:


    Chinese views of Japan, both official and popular, grew more negative after

    the end of the cold war. From 1989 to 1993 the Japanese side bears much

    of the blame for failing to overcome the distrust of the Chinese people. When

    the major deterioration in Japans image occurred from 1994 to 1998,

    however, it was Chinas leadership that was chiefly responsible, arousingnationalist emotions. When Chinas leaders sought to reverse this process

    from 1999 to 2001 they were unsuccessful both because of the intensity of

    public emotions and the lack of reassurance from the Japanese leadership

    and public. Divisions inside China reveal the hesitation of leaders to foster a

    realistic image of Japan. By tracing the content of changing Chinese

    perceptions, we can observe the effects of overconfidence and insensitivity in

    each state and recognize the difficulty at times of uncertain national identity

    of finding a coordinated strategy for expanding mutual trust.

    1 Introduction

    Japans significance for China after the collapse of the Soviet Union has been

    second only to that of the United States. On the one hand, Japan ranks as one

    of two top economic partners, the prime source of developmental assistance,

    and the main sponsor of the regionalism desired by the Chinese government.

    On the other, it is a rival, whose history provides the greatest legitimacy for

    Chinese nationalism, whose regional leadership aspirations raise the most

    International Relations of the Asia-Pacific Volume 2 (2002) 95129

    Oxford University Press and the Japan Association of International Relations2002

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    alarm, and whose alliance with the United States blocks Chinas plans.

    Through publications and interviews one can detect changing and clashing

    views on Japan.1 Since the two debates over the Soviet Union from 1978 into

    the mid-1980s and again in the transition to Russia in the first years of the

    1990s, perhaps no debate on another country has had such importance forChinas foreign options as the 19992001 debate on Japan.2 This paper

    reviews Chinese reasoning on Japan and its impact on the Chinese public, first

    dividing the past twelve years into three periods and then summing up the strug-

    gle between clashing viewpoints that can be surmised from available sources.

    Chinese views of Japan figure importantly in Japanese and Chinese efforts

    to manage bilateral relations. In 2000 Prime Minister Zhu Rongji explained

    to the Japanese people that although the Chinese government, in order to

    improve relations, was pressing ahead with smile diplomacy, Chinese public

    opinion was sceptical (Sentaku, 2000). While promising that the government

    would work hard to convince a recalcitrant public, he urged the Japanese

    side also to do more to persuade it. The Japanese right, too, warned that the

    Chinese public held negative views of Japan, but the explanation was differ-

    ent: instead of Japan bearing some responsibility and needing to appeal to

    it, blame was placed fully on the Chinese leadership for stirring up the

    people. These critics assume that the leadership, on its own, can turn things

    around (Ko, 2000). In fact, a large body of China specialists on Japan and

    international affairs operate between the oft-aroused sentiments of the pub-lic and the public posturing of high leaders. While their writings necessarily

    mirror the latest official instructions, varying themes and nuances suggest

    that a divergence exists.3 By scrutinizing these writings, we can improve our

    understanding of when and why the Chinese have become more critical and

    96 Gilbert Rozman

    1 The research for this paper is drawn from three sources: (i) articles and books in Chinese gathered

    over the course of a decade, often during visits to Chinese institutes such as the Institute of Japan

    and the Asia-Pacific Institute, both at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and others in the

    North-east provinces; (ii) articles and books in Japanese that report on Chinese views, many

    available through newspapers and bookstores and others gathered with the generous assistance of

    Iwaki Shigeyuki; and (iii) interviews at intervals of 12 years with Chinese specialists on Japan.

    2 At the turn of each decade over the past half-century a debate has unfolded in China on

    international relations. Around 1960 it led Mao to turn against the Soviet Union, in 197071 it

    meant favoring the United States over the Soviet Union, a decade later equidistance between the

    two superpowers was chosen, at the start of the 1990s Chinese decided on the meaning of the

    Soviet decline and collapse, and now, although the focus is on the continued rise of the United

    States, another interesting question has become Japans place as a partner huoban or rival

    duishou. Never has Japan been more central to Chinese debates on foreign policy.

    3 As in an earlier examination (Rozman, 1987) of Chinese writings on the Soviet Union, I treat the

    apparent message in published sources on sensitive themes as a reflection of the official position,

    while searching in secondary or hidden messages for signs of differences of opinion. Sometimesdivergent views are openly admitted, notably after a change in policy. References to China

    refer to the official position. Views of the Chinese people come from opinion surveys or secondary

    sources, impressionistic but consistent.

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    outspoken in their views of Japan, and what China and Japan might do to

    arrest this trend. Success requires taking into account both the place of

    bilateral relations in the worlds great power context and the level of trust

    achieved between the two sides.

    Since 1999 Chinese officials have kept telling their Japanese counterpartsthat even if public opinion was decidedly negative towards Japan, the gov-

    ernment was working hard to restrain it. This explanation had merit,

    especially after President Jiang Zemins November 1998 visit to Japan had

    unleashed an outcry over history in China as well as Japan, and when

    Japans new middle school textbooks outraged China in 2001. Over the same

    timeframe Japanese officials and writers kept blaming the Chinese govern-

    ment for stirring emotions that damaged relations (Rozman, 2001). Given

    that governments artful manipulation of nationalism in recent years, this

    perspective also had merit. In 2001 the Chinese public was convinced that

    rising Japanese nationalism was driving them to anger, while the Japanese

    people had largely abandoned hope that under a communist leadership with

    its control over news the Chinese could forsake an unbalanced view of them.

    We need to assess the relative impact of these two causes as well as explain

    the pattern of changing Chinese perceptions.

    2 Views of Japan, 19891993

    Zhou Enlais support in 1964 for Japanese studies, along with expertise onother areas, encouraged development of the research centers that later pro-

    vided much of the knowledge for Chinas opening to the world. Although

    relations were normalized in 1972, it was not until Maos death and the end

    of the Cultural Revolution that writings on the success of modernization in

    Japan were permitted, and by the end of the 1970s a large number of trans-

    lations circulating internally made learning from Japan a serious pursuit. In

    the 1980s additional institutes and new journals were established, as the range

    of coverage of Japan kept expanding. Of special interest was the internal

    journalRiben wenti ziliao, which in its coverage of more sensitive topics and

    overview of viewpoints shows how the field evolved (Riben wenti ziliao,

    1983).4 In the 1980s Japan ranked third behind the United States and the

    Soviet Union as a priority for study (Rozman, 1985; Shambaugh, 1991), and

    on some important themes, e.g. management methods and regional economic

    ties, it was clearly the most important.5 Much of the coverage was positive,

    aimed at finding lessons for China.

    Chinas changing images of Japan, 19892001 97

    4 From the outset this journal detailed the state of Japanese studies in China, including the subjectscovered and those that deserved more attention.

    5 See the Shanghai Library monthly journalQuanguo baokan suoyin. Japans coverage rose, in part,

    because Chinese writings paid most attention to economic issues, as seen in the titles of articles.

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    A Shanghai journal reported that in a 1987 survey of 2500 Chinese in

    forty cities, the highest number of respondents (31.4%) chose Japan as the

    foreign country with the best image, ahead of Western Europe (16.9%), the

    United States (8.4%) and the Soviet Union (2.3%). Covering this news,

    Yomiuri shimbun (4 April, p. 4) concluded that it proved that bilateralexchanges were deepening and the bad historical image that China had of

    Japan was weakening. Although in the late 1980s there may have been some

    hardening of views that gave Japanese experts second thoughts, this survey is

    memorable primarily for the false impression it gave the Japanese of what

    they needed to do to improve their image in China. Complacency over

    Chinese attitudes reinforced growing confidence in their countrys economic

    and international success to brush aside vitally needed efforts to satisfy the

    concerns of the Chinese people.

    On the eve of the Tiananmen demonstrations and repression, a joint sur-

    vey withYomiuri shimbunwas published inRiben wenti ziliao, which showed

    optimism in China regarding bilateral relations along with a deep reservoir

    of distrust. More than 70% of Chinese respondents said that ties political,

    economic or cultural would develop very well or quite well over the next

    ten years. Nearly 90% said bilateral relations should become closer. Yet,

    when asked if they can trust the other, 35% of Chinese said they could not

    and another 9% made it emphatic that they could not at all, as opposed to

    just 13% and 1% of Japanese respondents asked the same question (Ribenwenti ziliao, 1989). Attitudes were ambivalent, and more affected by history,

    than views on the Soviet Union, with which normalization was occurring,

    and on the United States, which was again treated as the main threat and

    source of peaceful evolution. Japan might have taken such findings to heart

    as a warning to strive harder to persuade the Chinese public regarding his-

    tory as well as the future.

    In 1993 a Japanese translation of Allen Whitings China Eyes Japanshowed an

    American scholars view of Chinese perceptions between 1982 and 1987, a time of

    intermittent frictions over textbook revisions, visits to the Yasukuni shrine (to thewar dead) and economic problems. Whiting found that between 1984 and 1986,

    when Party Secretary Hu Yaobang was advocating closer relations, images were

    mostly favorable, despite misperceptions that led to negativism on some themes,

    exacerbated by a shift in 1987 after Hu was ousted (Whiting, 1989, pp. 184196).

    A full-pagePeoples Dailyarticle on relations in the fall of 1985 typified the

    upbeat mood (Renmin ribao, 29 October, p. 2). Despite concern over one-sided

    criticisms, Japan became excessively hopeful that co-operative leaders would

    shape images in a positive direction, in accord with Chinas economic interests.Throughout the 1980s and well into the 1990s Japan loomed as a rising

    power with great significance for Chinas future. It represented a highly suc-

    98 Gilbert Rozman

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    cessful case in which modernization to rival that of the United States had

    been applied in East Asia with stunning results, and offered lessons for

    Chinas struggle to shed traditional socialism without falling prey to individ-

    ualist capitalism. Japan also constituted a generous source of vitally needed

    aid and investment, generated by both reassurances of openness and accusa-tions that aroused guilt. Finally, China viewed Japan as a rising great power

    that, for various reasons, some rooted in the past, threatened Chinas ambi-

    tions. All three of these images reached a new intensity by 1992. With the

    fall of the Soviet Union, the recession in the United States in the midst of

    the worldwide rise of regionalism, and Beijings own post-Tiananmen strat-

    egy of concentrating on its neighbors, Japan acquired new importance. The

    Japanese largely ignored the intensified nationalist rhetoric after Chinas

    crackdown on political reformers and the subsequent international condem-

    nation, and expected to gain from Chinas greater need for their

    co-operation. However, they drew the wrong lessons from a lull in criticism

    focused on Japan, while overestimating the positive messages on Japan as

    modernization model, economic facilitator, and supporter in regionalism

    and balanced great-power relations (Ross, 1996, pp. 18, 24).6

    The image of modernizing Japan as a bridge for China, of course, dates

    back to the 1870s. After Deng Xiaoping led China away from both the

    Maoist model of incessant class struggle and the Soviet path of centralized

    planning, the study of Japan helped to make the case that a new modelcould be found that would not have to mirror the individualist type of

    capitalism still regarded as anathema. Japans image reinforced the importance

    of a superior educational system to exploit modern science and technology

    while achieving economic growth; an export-oriented borrowing strategy

    that could be compatible with social control; and top-down administrative

    guidance that might allow the Communist Party to retain control. All of this

    encouraged Chinas leaders to believe that they need not jettison the core of

    the countrys system. Various translated writings, by selectivly borrowing

    from other works, treated Japans experience as a hybrid of capitalism andsocialism or as an example of Eastern civilization. In the mid-1980s a wave

    of urban reform was mooted in China as a way to duplicate Japans eco-

    nomic success. Some claimed that socialist and capitalist economies had

    much in common, citing Japan as proof for similarities in the role of the

    state in managing the economy (Feng Shaokui, 1995, p. 2)

    As socialist models for development were fading, Japans role as a teacher

    Chinas changing images of Japan, 19892001 99

    6 According to Robert Ross, Chinese scholars and journalists were instructed after 4 June 1989 until1995 not to write negatively about Japan, when Beijing evaluated Japanese foreign policy

    favorably. While I find too much negative in Chinas coverage to agree with Ross, he does suggest

    the relative softness of writings on Japan for a time.

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    rose further (Chew, 1991). Although Japans success was soon eclipsed by the

    four little dragons, especially Singapore after 1990 and then South Korea,

    the shadow of Japans economic miracle remained in the background.

    Indeed, the fall of the Soviet Union and the United States success in the

    Gulf War brought renewed interest in the need to master high-tech produc-tion in order to boost comprehensive national power. Following Dengs bold

    encouragement to study capitalism and borrow useful ideas, a new wave of

    writings on the twentieth anniversary of the 1972 summit touted Japans

    lessons (Riben xuekan, 1992). Praise for Japans managerial system equaled

    that coming from the West, and the Chinese also applauded human relations

    in Japan as relevant to socialisms need to draw on the selfless spirit of

    employees as a creative force (Bai, 1991), despite an obligatory concluding

    section that many shortcomings existed and would become more evident

    (Chen, 1992). Japans example was proof that East Asian modernization was

    superior to Western modernization and would bring the rise of Eastern civil-

    ization (Kongzi yanju, 1990).

    Along with the goal of borrowing to accelerate modernization, the

    Chinese created a second image of Japan aimed at promoting a positive

    environment for foreign investment and development assistance. The themes

    of friendship and shared culture supported this goal. Despite periodic

    reminders during the 1980s of the horror of Japans invasion, there was also

    discussion of periods of friendship and cultural proximity, raising hopes fora harmonious future together. A new literature arose appreciative of Japans

    unique literature and contemporary social life. Following the 1987 assertion

    that China is only at the initial stage of socialism and therefore must borrow

    more heavily from capitalist countries even in non-economic spheres, Japans

    approach to culture became the subject of a wider debate (Riben wenti ziliao,

    1992a, p. 1).7 The search for the secret of Japans success turned increasingly

    to its ability to fuse the modern and the traditional, to borrow from the West

    without losing the nations roots in the East (Liu Tianchun, 1994). This

    served to boost goodwill. Recognition of Japans growing clout in the worldbased on high technology created a thirst for this to be shared with China

    (Zheng, 1988). After years of complaining that Japan was largely limiting its

    investment to small and medium-sized companies using cheap Chinese labor

    in textiles and light industry, in late 1992 the Chinese acknowledged a China

    fever among large Japanese firms that were now transferring high technol-

    ogy. The authors explained that new economic pressures as well as increasing

    competition had forced this change, but Japans image nevertheless remained

    largely positive (Shijie jingmao neican, 1992).

    100 Gilbert Rozman

    7 Many generalizations about the field are noted in the tenth anniversary issue of the main journal,

    which is distributed only for internal use.

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    The Japanese took satisfaction from Chinese leaders willingness to focus

    on future ties between the two nations rather than on the past. Hu

    Yaobangs invitation to thousands of Japanese youth to visit China marked

    the zenith of this support. Although this initiative was criticized after Hu

    was ousted, Chinese officials continued to signal their Japanese counterpartsof the emphasis they placed on the future. However, the crackdown against

    peaceful evolution after 4 June 1989 included heightened vigilance against

    notions of convergence with Japan. It became risky to highlight any com-

    monality between the two cultures; the Chinese became more insistent that

    the rise of Eastern civilization ultimately meant the rise of China at its cen-

    ter. Even though the visit of Emperor Akihito in the fall of 1992 generated

    some optimism, care was taken to limit expectations of closeness between

    the two countries (China Daily, Business Weekly, 1992).

    At the turn of the 1990s a third image centering on the emergence of a

    great power gained the most ground in Japanese studies. Studies of inter-

    national relations and politics displayed this interest most prominently, but

    so too did writings on Japanese history, the history of Sino-Japanese rela-

    tions, and even the nature of Japanese society and popular culture (Cun,

    1992). According to this line of thinking, Japans aspirations of power

    exceeded its moral right to it, and China must struggle to keep these ambi-

    tions in check. The object of studying Japan was now to predict and help to

    prevent Japans grasp for power. Positive assessments of what Japan didright to facilitate its rise as an economic great power were joined by strong

    warnings about Japans lack of realism about why it should not aspire to be

    a political and military great power. The end of the Cold War and the loss of

    Soviet power, as well as the perceived gradual decline of US power, only

    heightened Chinese concern about the prospect of ascendant Japanese

    power (Liu and Xu, 1992). In 1992 sources made more mention of concerns

    about Japan having some kind of worrisome strategy. They conveyed a

    level of distrust of Japan that set the stage for a downturn in public opinion

    during the following period. The Chinese spoke of Japans sense of being asuperior nation with an expansionist taste, or of its intent to manage the

    world alongside the United States, but also of its need for regionalism

    involving China to realize such goals. The Chinese were less optimistic than

    the Japanese about bilateral relations because they had a low opinion of the

    morality of the Japanese people and a higher estimation of Japans intent to

    gain regional dominance.

    Popular feelings against Japan remained deeply embedded among older

    generations and had been transmitted to Chinese students. Many were dis-satisfied with Tanaka Kakueis weak statement of regret in 1972 for Japan

    having caused trouble to the Chinese people as if this transgression was

    Chinas changing images of Japan, 19892001 101

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    equivalent to splashing mud on their cuffs. While the Japanese spoke hope-

    fully about the visit of Emperor Akihito putting history behind them, they

    gave little thought to how much the emperor should say to assuage Chinese

    feelings in comparison to how little he should say in order to appease nation-

    alists at home. Optimistically anticipating a new regional partnership withChina, the Japanese let the opportunity pass to try to win the trust of the

    Chinese people.

    When Emperor Akihito visited China in October 1992 the Chinese were

    still anxious to boost Japanese investment and co-operation. They remained

    uncertain about the path of development of the new Russian state and

    unclear about the direction of the United States after the presidential elec-

    tion, while still struggling to end three years of sanctions and to put in place

    new economic reforms. The Chinese seized the occasion to showcase their

    country to use this visit, laden with symbolism, to shift bilateral relations

    onto a high-speed track, and in this way to approach the goal of creating a

    North-east Asian region that would enhance Chinas political and economic

    standing in an age of regionalism. They had promised Japans leaders that

    this historic visit would not produce any embarrassments; it was not their

    fault that the aftertaste felt by the Chinese public fell far short of Japans


    According to theSouth China Morning Post(9 October 1992, p. 4), ten-

    sions over relations with Japan mounted on the eve of the emperors visit. Acentral government document distributed to military, police and university

    administrators warned of demonstrations by the Chinese Popular Commit-

    tee for Japanese Reparations. Many had not reconciled themselves to the

    1972 decision by Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, accepted by Deng Xiaoping,

    against seeking reparations from Japan. Students who had rallied in 1986

    around slogans critical of Japan were joining the movement and trying to

    turn it into a populist springboard. They wanted the emperor to apologize

    for the atrocities of 193145, and demanded Japan take new measures to

    demonstrate that it would not become a military power after having just sentpeacekeeping troops abroad for the first time in the postwar era to serve in

    Cambodia. There were also calls for China to reopen the issue of war repar-

    ations, for which it was considered justified in seeking $180 billion. The

    article also reported that a nationwide poll by Beijing Reviewon attitudes

    toward Japan was being suppressed. In this poll almost 95% of 1138 respon-

    dents wanted the emperor to apologize for atrocities and more than

    three-quarters of them also supported demands for Tokyo to pay war repar-

    ations. If censored publications refused to give voice to these demands, thisdid not mean that the issue would not resurface.

    102 Gilbert Rozman

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    The emperors visit marked the culmination of a period when writings on

    Japan stressed the positive more than the negative, urging increased mutual

    understanding by concentrating on what the two nations have in common

    while putting differences aside. After all, Chinas leaders appreciated the fact

    that even if the Japanese advocate Western values such as human rights, theyat least recognize that in Asia a gradual approach is needed (Du, 1992). Even

    on the sensitive subject of historical relations, it served Chinas main pur-

    poses not to hurt Japanese feelings by dwelling on harsh memories. The

    atmosphere shaped a favorable environment for investment, trade and

    regional stability. The results were appreciated. China noted that Japans

    investments were rising rapidly amidst new recognition of Chinas long-term

    prospects and interest in regional economic integration. However, approval

    of economic results did not lead to more satisfaction with Japan.

    There can be no doubt that the relatively positive tone toward Japan

    through 1992 reflected the poor state of Sino-US relations and a sense of

    international isolation due to sanctions, the collapse of the socialist bloc and

    the breakup of the Soviet Union. On the very day Bill Clinton was elected

    president, thePeoples Dailypublicized the results of a recent joint confer-

    ence with Asahi shimbuncommemorating the twentieth anniversary of the

    normalization of relations and looking ahead to Sino-Japanese co-operation

    in the rise of Asia. The Chinese contributions predicted the replacement of

    Western culture, the intensification of regional development and dynamism,and the narrowing gap in GNP between the two regional great powers

    (Renmin ribao, 4 November 1992, p. 2). Clearly, Japan was indispensable for

    China to ride the wave of East Asias global ascent while keeping the United

    States from thwarting Chinese ambitions.

    The primary reason for distrust was different thinking on history. The

    Chinese argued that of all the countries in the world, whatever their past

    moral shortcomings and international aggression, Japan was the only one

    that had forfeited the moral right to be a political or military great power

    because of its record of brutality in Asia. It should be kept in fetters. As theglobal debate over a new world order unfolded, the Chinese felt that they

    had to redouble their efforts to expose the lessons of history in order to use

    them against Japanese ambitions. When Japan began to discuss participation

    in international peacekeeping forces, the Chinese downplayed the fact that

    Japan spends only 1% of its GNP on the military to warn of a hidden

    strategy to shake off all constitutional limitations. They also claimed that

    Tokyo was striving to take the lead role in the Asia-Pacific region and the

    North-east Asia region, while making all-out efforts to change the con-sciousness of its citizens (Yuan, 1992). Arguments against Japans right to

    convert economic into political power accompanied objections to notions of

    Chinas changing images of Japan, 19892001 103

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    the new world order that assigned Japan a large role, such as replacing the

    old bipolar order with a tripolar one based around the United States, Japan

    and the European Union (Lin, 1992). The exaggerated critique of Japan as if

    it remained dangerously close to its prewar past sullied a spirit of

    co-operation.Another source of distrust was the image of Japan seeking to lock China

    into a division of labor in which China would be stuck at the bottom. Arti-

    cles complained that by keeping investment low and limiting the transfer of

    high or recent technology, Japan wanted to keep China in a junior role in the

    division of labor as part of a strategy of vertical regional integration that

    resembled imperialist economic methods and even the Greater East Asian

    Co-prosperity Sphere of the war years. This image depicts Japan as the heir

    to the United States hegemonic aspirations in Asia and as the capitalist

    state with the most potential for economic and technological power in the

    future but anxious to prevent any loss. Rather than giving the Japanese any

    credit for the rapid growth of Chinas economy, the literature charged that

    they invest for the short-term, while consciously striving to keep China from

    becoming a serious competitor (Riben wenti ziliao, 1992b). Chinese authors

    faulted Japan both for failing to make an adequate commitment to the

    region and for aiming to dominate it. They charged that Japan was really

    tied to the West, sharing values and devoting only a small part of its invest-

    ment and trade to Asia (Wang Jiafu, 1992). In the north-east, where forreasons of history and geography people felt entitled to a large share of

    Japans investments, this message could be heard, but as Chinas primary site

    for historical research on Japan, which inevitably kept alive national wounds

    (Riben baike cidian, 1990), they were not immune to the increasingly domi-

    nant message: Japan has an unhealthy interest in making East Asia its


    Third, opposition to Japan took the form of a cultural argument that at

    least implicitly challenged global appreciation for Japanese culture.

    Compared to Western writings, Chinese sources were superficial and overlycritical in treating contemporary society, public opinion and cultural life in

    Japan (Ji, 1992). More than in the 1980s, Chinese sources depicted Japanese

    culture as a regional and global threat, resorting to stereotypes while under-

    mining the prospect of mutual understanding. Only two objectives seemed

    to be present in the increasingly popular discussions of Japanese culture: to

    analyze narrowly the relevance of culture in economic development, and to

    determine broadly the forces behind militarism in the past and the recent

    revival of nationalism. While the Chinese talked a lot about friendly rela-tions, increased exchanges and integrated economies, they glaringly omitted

    discussion about mutual appreciation of each others traditions and values.

    104 Gilbert Rozman

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    Writers were warned to avoid humanistic themes that might arouse sympa-

    thy among the Chinese people for the dreaded peaceful evolution that

    supposedly drew demonstrators to the streets in 1989 and helped bring down

    communism in the Soviet Union, and so omitted positive coverage of Japan-

    ese thinking an approach that resonated well with the public.The Chinese often took for granted the following progression: if Japan

    sent peacekeeping forces under UN auspices or assumed a more active

    global political role by taking responsibility for helping to solve the worlds

    problems, this would mean that it was preparing for political dominance,

    and if it gained some political power, this would inevitably fuel a drive for

    military great-power status. Such reasoning led to excessive vigilance against

    modest changes, and damaged relations between the two countries. There

    was no recognition at all that Chinas communist government also needed to

    do a lot of convincing before a world that had witnessed the brutality at

    Tiananmen. China tried to sweep idealism completely out of international

    relations, but it also showed a lack of realism. Instead of accepting each

    countrys power as is, China wanted Japan to open its pockets wide to boost

    Chinas national power, while insisting that Japan stand by with no reaction

    to any efforts on the part of China to expand and assert its own regional or

    global political and military power.

    One barrier to Chinese understanding of Japan was the refusal to

    acknowledge idealism and goodwill in a great powers motives. The Chinesebelittled Japanese reasons for providing assistance, raising human rights

    issues or even seeking increased co-operation. Such suspicions traced all

    Japanese actions to narrow national interest, creating a cloudy climate in

    which to pursue anything but economic co-operation. After June 1989

    Chinese officials reinforced the image of their country as a victim of those in

    the United States and Japan who were determined to continue a century and

    a half of weakening China and preventing it from realizing its potential.

    They cultivated a Sinocentric view of the world, putting the burden on

    Japanese shoulders to be realistic about the rise of China and to alter exist-ing thinking about history and regionalism. There was no strategy to meet

    the Japanese halfway.

    In early 1993 we already can detect a rise in Chinas self-confidence

    towards Japan. If earlier there had been fears that China would be under

    increased pressure, the new situation had China enjoying the most favorable

    international environment it had seen since 1949. After Boris Yeltsins visit

    to Beijing in December 1992, Chinese leaders felt confident of ties with Rus-

    sia. As Clinton assumed office, they asserted that US contradictions withJapan were growing and Japan would fail to gain regional economic hege-

    mony. Above all, delight with the economic results of 1992 led the Chinese

    Chinas changing images of Japan, 19892001 105

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    to write confidently of using the Chinese market as a weapon in the diplo-

    matic struggle (Wang Huaining, 1993). Taking Japan for granted, they

    assumed that the forces for regionalism would accelerate, great-power rela-

    tions would become more balanced and China would boost its centrality in

    Asia at Japans expense (Wang Huning, 1993). An assertive China was pre-paring to view Japan from a position of strength.

    3 Views of Japan, 19941998

    The trajectories of China and Japan changed decisively in 1993. Whereas

    China drew world attention as the new economic miracle and the next

    superpower, Japan became mired in stagnation with little sign of the political

    will necessary for reform. This reversal of fortunes was soon noted in Chinesepublications, which took the position that Japan needed China as much as

    China needed Japan. Interest in learning from Japans success fell sharply, and

    was negligible after the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Chinas leaders took a new

    outlook on Japan, strongly opposing its political aspirations and playing the

    historical card. Whereas in late 1992 there had been talk of a new era follow-

    ing the twentieth anniversary of normalization when history could be left to

    the historians as ties concentrated on economic relations and technical co-

    operation (Jiang, 1992), in 1995 the emphasis had shifted to using the fiftieth

    anniversary of the end of the Second World War to block Japans plans. If in1993 the Chinese were relatively relaxed about Japan rushing to be a political

    power and doubted it would use military power in its great-power strategy

    (Feng Shaokui, 1993), by 1995 they concocted a threat from Japan before the

    Japanese agitated about a threat from China.

    Why had Chinese images of Japan deteriorated markedly by the

    mid-1990s? Worsening Japanese images of China, since these trailed changes

    in Chinese views, did not provoke China. Investment from Japans large

    firms exceeded expectations, as did trade. The answer must be sought in

    changes in Chinese foreign policy and nationalist strategies from above.

    Leaders felt emboldened by the new balance of power with Japan and their

    assessment of: (i) the advantage of nationalist rhetoric for winning support

    from the Chinese people; and (ii) the effectiveness of pressure on Japan for

    Chinas role in great-power relations. As Japans leaders grew critical of

    Chinas military build-up and talk spread of using, as pressure, the criteria

    adopted in 1991 for overseas development assistance (ODA), including insis-

    tence on restraint in military spending, the Chinese assertively brought up

    Japans historic misdeeds.Even before the deterioration in relations, the Chinese had intensified

    warnings about Japans unjustified aspirations to become a political great

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    power (Xu Shigang, 1995). Instead of expressing gratitude for Japans large-

    scale ODA, they dismissed it as a means to become a political great power

    and gain regional leadership (Yang Yuanzhong, 1995). Rather than allaying

    early signs of Japanese worry about a Chinese threat, leaders acted as if any

    anxiety was a reflection of suspect motives. A vicious cycle resulted: theChinese side heightened Japanese alarm and then took that alarm as evidence

    of nefarious intentions. Sensing that Japan would use the fiftieth anniversary

    year in 1995 to put its past behind it, the Chinese redoubled their efforts to

    keep the past in the forefront. Denials of the Nanjing massacre and a war

    of aggression by Japanese cabinet officials in May and August 1994 no

    doubt had a provocative effect (Japan Times, 2228 August 1994, p. 20), but

    responsibility chiefly lay with the Chinese policy of targeting Japan.

    Chinas leaders made decisions about events in the region that had conse-

    quences for relations with Japan and for mutual perceptions. They took an

    aggressive approach to moves in Taiwan that they construed as edging

    toward independence, and did not measure their responses to avoid driving

    Japan closer to Taiwan. Even if Chinas leaders calculated that further

    nuclear tests were needed after the rest of the world had agreed on a treaty

    to stop testing, they did not need to belittle Japans acute sensitivity as if it

    were nothing more than a move to pressure China motivated by power cal-

    culations. When the Japanese reacted, the Chinese expressed alarm, stirring

    public emotions against Japan. It was not that the Chinese were uninformed;analysts reflected on the hottest issues and translators cranked out editions

    of the latest publications in Japan with remarkable speed (Motozawa, 2000).

    These were years when the quality of scholarship on Japan rose impressively,

    but the old guard who set the rules for analysis steered conclusions in a

    direction bound to harm mutual trust.

    The main downturn in mutual perceptions was precipitated by exchanges

    over Chinese nuclear testing in the atmosphere in 1995. For Japan, the target

    of two nuclear bombs and enthusiastic champion of the new global test ban,

    criticisms of the last of the existing nuclear powers to defy this ban reflecteda groundswell of public sentiment. For the Chinese, the first harsh criticisms

    since 1972 to originate primarily from the country that had wreaked havoc

    on their land and never satisfactorily apologized naturally drew mass discon-

    tent. The Chinese side did not reflect on Japans unique status as a nuclear

    victim or that this response was in keeping with a country disinclined toward

    militarization (Kamimura, 2001). Instead, China laced its criticisms with the

    idea that Japanese militarism was reviving, losing credibility in Japan and

    exacerbating domestic emotions. An understandable cause of disagreementturned into something far worse as emotions spiraled beyond control.

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    In 1995 and 1996 two approaches to regionalism and great-power rela-

    tions were on a collision course. For Japanese politicians, whether on the left

    or the right, at stake were the principles they had brought from the Cold

    War into a new era. On the left, Chinas nuclear test of 15 May 1995, in defi-

    ance of the global community and a request by Prime Minister MurayamaTomiichi during a visit to Beijing earlier in the month, aroused anti-nuclear

    feelings and there were demands that loans be suspended, as required by the

    ODA charter. On the right, that test, as well as subsequent ones in August

    and September, signaled the rise of a military power in the region, leaving

    Japanese security weakened. Both sides agreed that Tokyo must pressure

    Beijing, although the Ministry of Foreign Affairs worked hard to keep the

    response limited (Green, 2001, pp. 8082). There was a shared understand-

    ing that if Japan intended to stand behind its principles in shaping its own

    region and in the global arena it needed to be firm with China. For Beijings

    leaders the principles were no less clear: they were determined to make

    China a military power in order to exert global influence and gain the ability

    to use force, if necessary, to retake Taiwan. They were also insistent that

    Japan, given its stained history, had no right to pressure China. The Chinese

    considered ODA from Japan to be a form of war reparations, and they

    denied Japan the right to suspend it.

    If in retrospect this clash of principles was virtually unavoidable, the way

    it was handled by the Chinese side need not have been so extreme. Focusingon leaders such as Hashimoto Ryutaro and Ozawa Ichiro, they exaggerated

    the role of rightist thought in Japan (Zhanhou, 1996, pp. 623636). Seizing

    the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the ending of the war, the Chinese

    made Japans historical misdeeds an obsession, and rekindled dark memo-

    ries. Equating communist leadership with nationalism in China, they may

    have boosted the legitimacy of their party, but at a cost to their image in

    Japan and Japans image in China.

    Chinas negative shift in its view of Japan came as a shock to the Japanese

    people in 199496. One could argue that the Japanese had provoked itthrough condescension to backward Chinese in the 1980s, by taking

    Chinas isolation in international affairs for granted between 1989 and 1991,

    or by allowing Japanese nationalism focused on history to come more into

    the open in 199395. No doubt the Japanese had been overconfident and

    showed little sensitivity, but however much they preferred to retain the

    edge over China, they also sincerely welcomed its economic growth and

    partnership. The Japanese feared disorder more than rivalry, and they cham-

    pioned Chinas cause in international circles. The Chinese were not justifiedin becoming so negative, and their leaders would learn to regret the


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    The Japanese had assumed that networks forged with Chinas present and

    future leaders would lead to improving relations. By the mid-1990s the elder

    statesmen who had personally guided bilateral relations were dead, and

    nobody could fill the void. There was much hand-wringing about the

    absence of pipes to calm worries when they arose. The situation was nobetter with networks for the future. In 1992 a Japanese book surveyed the

    attitudes of Chinese students living in Japan. It noted that students generally

    start in two-year language schools before taking the entrance examinations

    to universities or technical schools. They need a guarantor, whose services

    they often buy. In addition, they defy restrictions on hours of employment

    by working in 3-D (dirty, dangerous and difficult) jobs through the late

    afternoon and evenings to cover the costs for school and living expenses.

    With few dormitory rooms available and most Japanese reluctant to rent to

    them, they face hurdles in living too. All of these problems are compounded

    by the impression that the Japanese look down on the Chinese as untrust-

    worthy, poor and lazy. It follows that these students really do not enjoy their

    experience or like Japan (Sukigara and Suzuki, 1992). Throughout the 1990s

    the theme resurfaced that just because Chinese people got to know Japan

    better, does not mean they will appreciate it more.

    Comparisons can be made with a previous boom in overseas study and

    the view of Japan held by returning Chinese students. Whereas from 1896 to

    the 1910s the boom of Chinese studying in Japan contributed greatly to rev-olution and reform in thinking, this second boom amounting to 200 000

    visiting students over two decades has supplied some of the necessary

    knowledge and technology for modernization. Yet, there is fear that as the

    first boom was undercut by an assertive Japanese foreign policy that led to

    boycotts of Japanese goods and growing resentment of aggressive aims, the

    second boom is not producing the strategic capital for Japans foreign pol-

    icy goals. Among the explanations cited are: (i) after the collapse of the

    bubble economy Japan has been slow to meet the financial burden of these

    students; (ii) troubles arising from small numbers of students have causedlots of real estate dealers and part-time employers to exclude foreigners and

    give the impression that Japanese society is cold to foreign students; and (iii)

    many feel spiritually isolated while struggling with language study, entrance

    exams, social adjustment and financial problems (Zhu, 2001, pp. 5457).

    Even if improvements were to be made in the infrastructure proposed to

    turn these returnees into advocates of a positive image of Japan, there would

    still be the problem of communicating frankly about history and current

    affairs in a manner that leaves both sides with increased mutual respect.After the drop in public opinion in each country toward the other, and the

    emotional response in China coupled with the indifference in Japan to recent

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    textbook revisions, it is unlikely that the Japanese will become more sensitive

    or the Chinese respect the views of their hosts.

    The Chinese governments handling of the downturn in public opinion

    reveals a lack of concern for the impact of popular thinking on international

    relations. In February 1997 whenZhongguo qingnianbaoreported on its 1996survey of 100 000 young people, it asserted that just 15% had good feelings

    toward Japan and 14% thought bilateral relations were good, while a 1997

    follow-up found that 10% like Japan and 34% dislike it (Amako, 1998, p. 24).

    The Chinese media and movie industry, under the obvious direction of the

    Propaganda Department of the Communist Party, had fostered a negative

    image through its one-sided coverage, emphasizing war history instead of

    contemporary life. This reflected an intensified effort to build a great-power

    national identity with the ideology of a strong state. To the Japanese it dem-

    onstrated the failure of two decades of goodwill efforts backed by lots of

    money in assistance, investments and exchanges. And when Chinese leaders

    took a new look at the importance of Japan for Chinas continued economic

    growth, balance in great-power relations and regionalism, they discovered

    that they did not know how to reverse this public negativity and its repercus-

    sions in Japan.

    Thomas Christensen found in his periodic interviews with international

    security experts in China a lack of empathy with Japan, stifling the opinions

    of those who did empathize. Influential figures did not understand Japaneseanxieties over Chinese actions (Christensen, 1999, pp. 7071). Intense anti-

    Japanese feelings were compounded by the unexpected nature of develop-

    ments in 1995 and 1996: increased fear of the United States when it gave

    priority to security over economics in the region; a more assertive Japanese

    government on nuclear testing; tension over the Senkaku (Diaoyutai)

    islands; and the Japanese prime ministers visit to the Yasukuni shrine. The

    redefinition of the USJapan alliance raised the most alarm (Garrett and

    Glaser, 1997). Having overreacted, Chinese leaders found it hard to calm a

    public already prepared to cast Japan as an arch villain.Having built a strong foundation for co-operation on the international

    stage with Russia and been courted by the United States from the second

    half of 1996, Chinese leaders pressed Japan harder. They seemed to be hope-

    ful about re-creating the strategic triangle of the second half of the Cold

    War with Japan left on the sidelines. Analysts embraced the vocabulary of

    triangles to depict the evolving relations among regional and global powers,

    assigning a place to Japan mostly as a force for balancing the United States

    (Rozman, 1999). Chinese reasoning on how to calculate national power andto achieve balance among nations harked back to what Japanese and Ameri-

    cans saw as Cold War logic. It privileged power concerns over regional

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    integration. Although there were moments of renewed hope for Sino-Japan-

    ese ties, such as the celebration of twenty-five years of relations in 1997, they

    did not last long. Throughout 1998 the main theme remained Japans strat-

    egy to become a political great power and Chinese efforts to resist it (Feng

    Tejun, 1998, pp. 112117),Alarmed by the downturn in public opinion, leaders in both China and

    Japan made some efforts in 1997 and 1998 to stabilize relations. Experts in

    China appealed for patience. They argued that blossoming economic ties

    would draw Japan closer to China and lead toward multipolarization (Yang

    Yuanzhong, 1997). The United States and Japan were bound to face

    increased tensions, including over leadership in East Asia; China could take

    its time. With the uncertainty of the Asian financial crisis, the plea for

    caution took on new urgency. The focus turned to forging balanced triangles

    for regional and global relations; to allaying Japans nervous concerns, and

    allowing it time to express its real interests. It was expected that equilibrium

    would take shape in the ChinaUSJapan triangle that would stabilize the

    region as China continued its inexorable rise. Some scholars drew attention

    to Japanese psychology, especially reasons for concern over China, with

    advice that a balance of power would make Sino-Japanese relations a force

    for multilateralism (Song, 1998), but such views stayed in the background

    (Yang Bojiang, 1999).

    Sino-Japanese mutual perceptions traversed a rocky path in the secondhalf of 1998 after appearing to recover from their nadir in 1996. Chinese

    leaders could not resist taking advantage of Bill Clintons eagerness to

    improve relations to try to use triangular relations against Japan. They

    insisted on Clinton not stopping in Tokyo before or after his visit to China

    in mid-1998, and they took pleasure in a joint statement complaining about

    Japans inadequate response to the depressed economies of the region. But

    the worst moment came when President Jiang Zemin visited Japan in

    November. Jiangs visit had been overshadowed by the historic summit with

    South Koreas Kim Dae-jung a month earlier, at which Japan exchanged awritten apology about the past for a promise that the issue would not be

    raised again. In the light of this, Jiang could have reconciled himself to

    achieving only modest results, but instead he played the history card repeat-

    edly. This aroused Chinese public opinion and, in turn, virtually unified the

    Japanese people against the Chinese president. Again repairs were required

    to patch up relations. Chinas leaders realized that emotional relations on

    both sides would make the pursuit of national interests difficult.

    Clearly, Jiangs handling of his visit in 1998 had been a mistake, but it wasonly the last in a string of errors over five years that had excessively agitated

    the Chinese public. If the Japanese bear some responsibility for provoking

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    the Chinese unnecessarily, as in the construction of a lighthouse on one of

    the Senkaku islands in July 1996, the lions share of the blame for the

    Chinese publics deepening hostility in this period falls on the shoulders of

    the Chinese leadership. In 1999 they recognized their mistake and vowed not

    only to improve bilateral ties but also to convey a different image of Japan tothe public.

    The Chinese were not driven by economic interdependence to an

    increased appreciation of Japan. Rising economic ties from 1992 were,

    strangely, accompanied by deteriorating political ties. Indeed, only when the

    economic boom slowed in 199799 did efforts to stabilize political ties

    increase. Chinese sources do not do a good job in explaining the affinity

    nose-diving of 199496 or the turnaround afterwards. Many make it seem

    as if Japan was responsible, driven first by LDP extremists moved by nation-

    alism independent of economic interests, and then reversed by great-power

    strategic thinkers and business interests, each looking for balanced security

    in the twenty-first century. In addition, they claim that the United States

    keeps driving Japan away from China, only to find that Japan awakens to its

    subordination and turns back to China (Xu Zhixian, 1998). Analysts fail to

    back these assertions with any analysis of Japanese domestic politics or

    JapanUS relations, and they ignore the effect of Chinese domestic politics

    and ChinaUS relations on images of Japan.

    On the day of the fiftieth anniversary of the Peoples Republic of China,the results were published of a survey of the attitudes toward Japan of

    Chinese college students studying Japanese. Not many were taking the lan-

    guage: at the university level just one-fifteenth of the number taking English,

    and for earlier levels less than 0.5%. But this select group could be expected

    to be positive since just about all wanted to work in fields linked to Japan:

    many expected to be employed by Japanese companies, and had chosen

    Japanese because they liked Japans animation films or music. Only

    one-quarter of respondents expressed a friendly attitude, one-third were

    more or less friendly, while slightly over a quarter were split evenly betweennot feeling friendly or feeling ambivalent, and some did not know how to

    answer (Chugoku, 1999). These disappointing responses came after years of

    negative coverage, but at a time when the mass media was refraining from

    arousing emotions. They suggested how hard it would be to create in China

    a positive image of Japan.

    Attentive to the internal debate on Japan in China, Keio University pro-

    fessor Kokubun Ryosei pointed to the prospect of a Chinese effort to

    improve relations with Japan months before it became a reality. He notedthat Chinese were alarmed by the expansion of NATO and its military

    involvement in Yugoslavia, making it even more sensitive to the possibility

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    that the new USJapan guidelines would lead to containment of China.

    Thus, they had been debating how to separate Japan, even if only slightly,

    from the United States. After overlooking the peaceful development of post-

    war Japan and treating the USJapan security treaty as the cork in the bottle

    preventing Japans militarization, the Chinese now shifted gear, downplayingthe military danger from Japan and arguing that Chinas domestic problems

    were piling up and required a more stable environment. After Jiangs alarm-

    ingly unsuccessful visit, they tried to reassure Japanese while calming their

    own public (Mainichi, 11 April 1999, p. 6).

    4 Views of Japan, 19992001

    Chinas smile diplomacy was announced in interviews that noted a policy

    shift in the fall of 1999 (Asahi, 1999), as well as through a noticeable changein tone in the Chinese media and academic literature. Articles stressing the

    importance of friendship with Japan were commonplace by the spring of

    2000. The visibility of this effort received a boost from coverage of Jiang

    Zemins meeting with Japanese travelers on 20 May and Zhu Rongjis friend-

    ship tour of Japan from 12 to 17 October. However, Chinese internet postings

    defied the official goals, and even criticized Zhu for his message that present-

    day Japanese should not bear responsibility for the militarism and war

    against China, and furthermore that China highly appreciated Japans

    ODA (Watanabe, 2001, p. 126). Official policy and public opinion were not inaccord.

    Officials recognized this and showed signs of wanting to change public

    attitudes. Japanese publications noted a shift at the beginning of 2000 in the

    Chinese governments approach to public opinion. In the 1980s a sympa-

    thetic image of life in Japan had been conveyed through television dramas or

    movies shown to the Chinese people, then in the mid-1990s emphasis on the

    war years had eclipsed current life on television, causing viewers to see Japan

    more through its past than its present. Japanese discontent over this

    one-sided coverage came into the open in 1999 just as the Chinese were

    reassessing the negative fallout from the public relations fiasco of Jiang

    Zemins visit. But observers were surprised to find an article by Feng

    Shaokui in the first issue ofShijie zhishi of 2000 that changed the tone

    abruptly. On many themes this article stressed the positive: (i) the develop-

    ment of friendly relations and true co-operation would be of great use to the

    two countries and to the people of Asia; (ii) Chinas emotional attitude is

    not productive; (iii) the majority of Japanese do not deny the history of

    aggression; and (iv) the challenge of right-wing nationalists can be over-come. If the Japanese were pleased, Chinese readers floodedShijie zhishi

    with criticisms of the article. Now the Japanese had to acknowledge that the

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    problem was rooted more in public opinion than in government manipula-

    tion (Ryo, 2000, pp. 154155).

    Negative responses to the January 2000 article centered on many themes:

    the Japanese people have not shown the kind of remorse or understanding

    that would justify absolving them of criticism for militarism; Maos decisionto forego reparations does not mean the Chinese people and especially

    victims of the war are not justified in seeking restitution; even if Japan is

    regarded as Chinas biggest trade partner and lender, these are purely com-

    mercial undertakings and do not reflect goodwill. But the rare open airing

    of differences on foreign policy did not stop with this journal for intellectu-

    als. Soon popular newsstand magazines such as Shidiancaught the eye of

    readers with stridently nationalist headlines portraying Japan as a future

    nuclear power, a threat to China and a militaristic power that rejects charges

    of past aggression. They appealed to a deep-seated emotional antagonism

    towards Japan, filled with distrust of a people who can deny historical truths

    and forebodings of what they will do in the future. The debate had come

    into the open.

    The Japanese noted with surprise the hesitancy of two groups to resist the

    public rejection of a new soft line. One group comprises those who favor the

    United States or have close ties with overseas Chinese and share in the nega-

    tive image of Japans handling of history. The second group are those who

    have studied in Japan and know well the changes of the postwar era, butfind a lot to criticize in narrow nationalism and ethical pragmatism (Ryo,

    2000, pp. 156162). A freer press in China exposed the depths of popular

    distrust of Japan.

    By the start of the twenty-first century the quantity and quality of

    Chinese academic writings and also glossy periodicals on Japan had reached

    a new peak. Often they openly objected to past simplifications in criticisms.

    Among the many themes, studies went into detail on the character of the

    Japanese, describing positive features more than negative ones. Moreover,

    they warned that the Chinese had succumbed to negative stereotyping andneeded this kind of information to look beyond history (Yang Ningyi, 2001,

    p. 3). Having funded some of the publications and research centers, as well

    as trained the young scholars, the Japanese could take some satisfaction

    from this output. Yet by this time it was clear that the Chinese public was, on

    the whole, clinging to its negative outlook, and academic information would

    not suffice.

    As China was striving to assuage rumpled Japanese feelings in 2000, the

    Japanese right insisted that the real problem was heightened dislike of Japanin China as a result of mind control (Sankei shimbun, 30 October 2000).

    Blaming the Chinese government, these Japanese regarded the belated

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    acknowledgement of gratitude for Japanese ODA (Jin, 2000) and of the

    marked differences between present-day and wartime Japan as a paltry

    effort. While the political right conveyed an image of Chinese citizens

    aroused by anti-Japanese propaganda into emotional hostility that left little

    possibility of reaching them with a more positive picture, others suggested amore complicated situation.Asahi shimbunpointed to an August 2000 gath-

    ering in Beijing of 2000 Japan fans despite the mood of loathing for Japan

    (kennichi) just a week later at the annual remembrance of the war (Asahi

    shimbun, 20 March 2001, p. 1) For the most part, the Japanese left, a mere

    shadow of its once feisty self, bemoaned the state of Chinese opinion toward

    Japan. While citing examples of more sympathetic media coverage, such as

    praise for Japans womens marathon gold medallist at the Sydney Olympics

    as the pride of Asia, it too pointed to evidence that many of the millions of

    educated young people on the internet were airing their hostility towards

    Japan and even calling Zhu Rongji a traitor for his assertion to Japanese

    reporters that China does not want to hurt Japanese feelings over historical

    matters. Even two years after Jiangs visit, Chinese public opinion was not

    softening, the Japanese were told (Mainichi shimbun, 2 November 2000).

    Since recent Chinese government efforts to portray Japan more favorably

    were having little impact, some Japanese called for more state action, includ-

    ing a re-examination of educational content at many levels, while warning

    that increased open debate in China might only exacerbate the problem seenon the internet.

    Chinese views of Japan often appear bifurcated between positive impres-

    sions in localities that are most active as both research centers and economic

    partners and negative images in the center of the country, especially where

    security is the focus. Along the south-east coast and in cities such as Dalian

    and Tianjin one finds the most favorable commentaries, while criticisms have

    been most intense in Beijing institutes that deal with great-power relations.

    On the whole, young scholars trained in Japan and the United States exam-

    ine global or regional integration and their promising implications forbilateral ties, while, on the other side, older international security specialists

    warn of Japan using the Asian economic crisis or the prospect of the yen

    becoming a regional currency to boost its power at the expense of China.

    Many see Japan through a narrow lens, harking back to zero-sum notions of

    regional leadership or to Cold War ideas of contradictions between Japan

    and the United States. Despite close economic relations, the constituency for

    good relations remains shaky.

    Some Japanese are alert to a continuing positive impact of Japanese massculture on the Chinese, especially young people. Already in the early 1980s

    some of Japans most popular dramas were riveting Chinese audiences. In

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    the 1990s Star Television continued to air recent dramas originating from

    Hong Kong, while video rentals were widely publicized in newspapers and

    magazines. Chinese college students are from a generation raised on Japan-

    ese animations aimed at young children, followed by manga as they grow

    older. Indirectly, Hong Kong and Taiwan echo Japanese culture or becomeconduits for fashion originating in Tokyo. Again in the second half of 2000

    articles on Japanese dramas became more numerous, indicating that pop

    culture retains its hold among the Chinese public (Watanabe, 2001,

    pp. 122124). Yet the intense popularity of shows seen by large numbers of

    Chinese in the mid-1980s was not repeated, and such shows are unlikely to

    be commercially viable now. As relations became more politicized, popular

    culture no longer offers a promising shortcut to trust. The Japanese should

    have recognized the enormous opportunity that they had and done much

    more to reach the Chinese public earlier.

    Explaining the degree of antagonistic feelings that the Chinese have

    toward Japan, analysts have argued that China not only responded to insuf-

    ficient Japanese reflection on the past aggressions, but, in addition, Chinese

    students in Japan had reported that prices were high, Asians were looked

    down on, it was hard to find a decent part-time job after the collapse of the

    bubble economy, scholarships were difficult to get, and in general Japan was

    not a good place to live. Chinese working for Japanese firms in China also

    were dissatisfied. Finally, recent troubles between Japanese students inChina, admitted without tests and often more interested in having a good

    time than studying, and Chinese students also overlapped with history.

    Such problems led respondents to view the Japanese as arrogant. In a poll

    of 100 000 Chinese conducted byZhongguo qingnianbao, 90% answered that

    they were worried by the militarization of Japan, while only 5% were not

    (Watanabe, 2001, p. 125). An agreement to exchange 15 000 young people

    from 1999 to 2003 offered only a small ray of hope of changing this situa-

    tion. This forward-looking agreement which was overshadowed by the

    November 1998 summit did not reassure some in Japan as when the firstgroup arrived in Beijing, their visit began at a museum dedicated to the war,

    and Jiang Zemin greeted them by speaking of historical responsibility

    (Beijing ribao, 25 October 1999).

    The Japanese pointed to two sharply conflicting views of Japan that were

    prevalent in China. One, as expressed by Zhu Rongji in his visit to Japan of

    October 2000, said that postwar Japan had followed the path of peace and

    development, achieving tremendous success. The other insisted that militar-

    ism was being revived in Japan. Some in Japan found Zhus message insin-cere, a tactical response with little chance of overturning the effects of a

    campaign that had loudly spread the negative image. Others said that it was

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    a significant change that could be expected to improve feelings toward Japan

    (Yomiuri shimbun, 7 November 2000, evening). At the center of the debate

    was whether the positive approach was just a short-term device to win some

    benefits or whether it reflected the true sentiments of Chinas leaders and the

    public.Within China some analysts warned against the demonizing of Japan and

    finally managed to present a fuller, more objective image of that country. In

    the early 1990s they were concerned that Chinas excessive fear of rising

    Japanese power threatened to undermine relations. In interviews they took

    exception to three lines of criticism of Japan.8 (i) They worried that Chinas

    insistence on regionalism based on horizontal relations would not give

    adequate weight to the requirements of long-term, large-scale investment.

    Continuously charging Japan with plotting to forge a vertical division of

    labor aimed at keeping China backward did not bode well for winning

    Japans support for regionalism. (ii) The critics were concerned that the con-

    stant rhetoric that Japan has no right to become a political great power as

    well as a military great power is an attempt to stop the inevitable. It was

    unrealistic and also potentially damaging to bilateral relations to expect a

    hierarchical political relationship between China and Japan. (iii) Critics

    doubted that USJapan relations would decline allowing China much lever-

    age, as the mainstream position argued.

    In 19992000, critics of Chinas approach to Japan had some success,making five main arguments.9 (i) Japanese power and its chances of being

    used aggressively have been exaggerated. Analyses of Japans weakness

    turned to the cultural roots of a society that relies on borrowing rather than

    creativity in developing new knowledge, and concluded that Japan would

    lose competitiveness and grow increasingly dependent on its East Asian

    neighbors. It follows that the goal for China should be not to block Japans

    inevitable rise as a political power, but to channel that rise within a frame-

    work where China can create a balance and deflect the more serious threat

    of Japan becoming a military great power. (ii) China must recognize thegrowing threat of US hegemony and focus on Japan as the weak link in the

    security alliance. The Japanese must believe that they can use China for

    leverage in great-power relations and have an outlet when they feel that the

    United States is controlling them. The decision to use the term strategic

    partnership for Sino-Japanese relations symbolized this new approach.

    Newly sensitive to the psychology of the Japanese people, who have been

    Chinas changing images of Japan, 19892001 117

    8 These interviews were conducted during a research stay in China in the fall of 1992 and the springof 1993 as well as at later dates.

    9 While my review of Chinese writings lends support to these conclusions, I rely also on interviews

    during two visits to China in October 1999 and December 2000.

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    frustrated in their aspirations in the 1990s, Chinese analysts called for a care-

    ful, reassuring approach. (iii) The Chinese should recognize the need for

    regionalism as a means to overcome the inherent limitations of bilateral ties

    with Japan. That way they can use South Koreas role as a constructive third

    party as well as remove Sino-Japanese relations somewhat from the shadowof Sino-US relations and their destabilizing effects. (iv) The Chinese must

    recognize their need for Japans economic help. In 1999, as the economic

    growth rate in China dropped, plans to reform state-owned enterprises

    proved difficult, and warnings were heard that entry into the World Trade

    Organization (WTO) could be perilous; co-operation from a country with an

    economy six or seven times that of China seemed essential. This could not

    be taken for granted after the downturn in Japanese investment and exports

    that had just occurred (Zhao, 1999). As it increasingly recognized its own

    weakness and became sceptical about ties with Russia, especially the poor

    state of economic relations, China better appreciated its need for Japan,

    including the value of ODA. (v) Chinas leaders must be more concerned

    about the emotions of its own citizens. Aware that the Chinese as well as the

    Japanese were losing their friendly feelings for each other, many feared that

    this would interfere with great-power calculations. Moreover, the vitality of

    the grass-roots movement demanding reparations from Japan looms as a

    threat to relations in the future.

    Above all, Chinese scholars posited Japan at a crossroads, where it couldmake China a partner or turn it into an opponent. By choosing the former,

    Japan could look forward to a beneficial triangle with the United States and

    maximum flexibility as a great power, including political power now recog-

    nized as inevitable. Japan would become more independent politically. It

    would gain through regional economic integration. And its decision not to

    press for Western values in Asia would make it more acceptable to its neigh-

    bors (Liu Jiangyong, 2000, pp. 295324). If some of these arguments seem

    too self-serving for China, they at least open the way to joint exploration of

    common ground.If Chinas leaders accepted some of these arguments, this does not neces-

    sarily mean that they really favored a long-term process of reconciliation

    and respect. Those who are dubious that the change is more than tactical

    note that the positive tone dominant in Sino-Japanese relations between

    1990 and 1992 resulted mostly from US-led efforts to counteract global iso-

    lation, and likewise, in 19992000 Chinas newfound closeness to Japan

    accompanied a shift in domestic power to conservatives and worsening

    USChina relations. More than Tokyo, Beijing fears an imbalance in theChinaJapanUS triangle and adjusts its policy toward Tokyo accordingly.

    Since Tokyo closely monitors Chinese coverage of Japan, Beijing also has

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    been obliged to change the tone of domestic media and the foreign policy

    establishment to make its case to Japan. One can doubt that this means

    much when Chinas leaders are drifting in a more nationalist direction both

    in domestic propaganda and in global strategy.

    From 27 February to 23 March 2001 Sankei shimbuncarried a series oftwenty-one articles on the teaching of history in China. These articles

    offered detailed support for what many had been writing: the Chinese lead-

    ership buttresses growing nationalism by presenting Japanese history more

    negatively and stirring public opinion towards increased animosity. This, in

    turn, has become the foundation of worsening Sino-Japanese relations. It is

    worth examining theSankeiarguments closely in order to follow this logic.

    The series begins with the contention that Chinese absolutism needs to

    portray China as a victim by creating an historical consciousness that justi-

    fies its own evolution. It devotes an extraordinary amount of its historical

    education to Japan, almost all of it to the war of resistance. Coverage starts

    with six- and seven-year-olds learning of Japans invasion and cruelty,

    including vivid visual images. Even the contents of Chinese language

    instruction are crammed with fervent patriotism and political consciousness.

    Right after reading about Japans cruelty, including killing tens of millions

    of Chinese, the children learn of the wonderful Chinese Communist Party

    that spilled its blood to do everything for the nation and finally defeated

    Japan. By the time children are nine they read of the various cruel ways usedby soldiers who took pleasure in murder games.

    Much attention centers on what the Chinese side claims was the killing of

    more than 300 000 disarmed soldiers and unarmed civilians in Nanjing.

    After quoting many details in middle-school textbooks on the Nanjing mas-

    sacre, the sixth article in the series volunteers that the objective of historical

    education is connected to instilling hatred of present-day Japan. Compari-

    sons follow with earlier middle-school textbooks. They show a rise from

    1980 to 1992 from 150 to 520 lines on the Nanjing incident, a shift from crit-

    icism of the army to Japan in general, and playing up the story with visualeffects. Pointing to changes that started with a decision under Jiang Zemin,

    the series views historical consciousness as a political tool. Without the

    Chinese Communist Party liberating the country, there would be no new

    China, children are taught.

    It is not only the war of the 1930s40s that is distorted, according to

    Sankei. Chinese middle-school students are taught a negative historical view

    of Japan as a backward feudal country in which only class struggle eventu-

    ally brings the end of the era. Textbooks are further criticized for grossdistortions of the Sino-Japanese war of 189495. They overlook that Korea

    was a dependency of Qing China, that the Qing had sent troops to suppress

    Chinas changing images of Japan, 19892001 119

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    a rebellion in Korea, that Japan liberated Korea from China, and that Russia

    was heading south and threatening Japan. Instead, Chinese textbooks con-

    clude that Japan from the early Meiji era had a plan to invade China aimed

    at satisfying the greed of the rising capitalist class. When covering the Boxer

    Rebellion and other foreign interventions, the textbooks point the arrow ofblame at Japan. In discussing Japans invasion of Taiwan, they neglect to

    mention that Chinese control did not really extend to it and that, according

    to international law, Japan was entitled to sign an accord with China grant-

    ing it this land as part of a treaty after a war. In article 12 readers learn that

    Chinese children are taught to equate pro-Japanese with traitors. Later they

    are reminded that in the 1990s coverage of the 1937 start of all-out war

    changed in tone, ignoring the background of the time. The Japanese paper

    also questions the figures for casualties and damages in the war, noting that

    they were raised sharply from the 1991 to the 1995 texts. The message on

    Japanese cruelty is pervasive, even appearing in music class textbooks.

    Children are taught to loathe Japan; almost nothing appears on the postwar

    country. Both friendly postwar Sino-Japanese relations and Japans peace

    orientation are omitted, as is mention of the huge assistance it has given to

    China. Article 16 concludes that teaching a history of hatred cannot be for

    the purpose of understanding and amity.

    Apart from textbooks, the Japanese are troubled by reports of the image

    of their country conveyed in the media and academic writings in China.Convinced that they live in a country of peace with a mission to oppose

    nuclear testing and a new arms race, they faced a growing sentiment in

    China that not only was their country still plagued by the bushido fighting

    spirit seen in the war years but it was also bent on becoming a military

    power again (Cho, 1998, p. 113). Taking little heed of recent improvements,

    the right wing in Japan suggests that a media blitz continues to show the

    Chinese people a distorted image. While this is correct to a degree, the multi-

    tude of historical distortions in these rightist attacks on Chinese views pose

    an even more serious danger to mutual understanding.The new textbooks approved in Japan in the spring of 2001 damaged

    Japans image in China further. Repeatedly, China criticizes these junior high

    textbooks for glorifying a war of invasion. Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan

    summoned Japans ambassador to warn that the textbooks, which claim that

    Japan fought to liberate Asian countries, could disrupt bilateral relations

    and undermine the trust of the Chinese people. He added that the Chinese

    would now be wondering if Japan can keep its solemn commitment on his-

    tory as long as the Japanese are being seriously poisoned by their historyeducation (China Daily, 5 April 2001).

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    The exchange of opinions over the Japanese textbooks sharpened negative

    sentiments on both sides. Chinese views towards Japan hardened as the

    Japanese right-wing press revived the reasoning of the war years. The

    Chinese could read accounts that Manchuria was not Chinese territory and

    Japans co-operation with Manchuko should not be labeled an invasion ofChina, that Japan used military force to liberate Asia from European and

    American colonialism, and that Koreans, Taiwanese and South-east Asians

    fought alongside Japanese and wished for a Japanese victory in the war. This

    was nothing less than a frontal assault on the verdicts of the Tokyo tribunal

    (Nakamura, 2001.)

    When the textbook issue arose in late 2000 and early 2001, Chinese com-

    ments showed restraint, but after Diet members made provocative state-

    ments e.g. that the Greater East Asian War ended colonialism in Asia

    and the Japanese government made clear that this time changes in proposed

    revisions would not be a political concern, the Chinese attitude changed. On

    27 February 2001 Jiefang junbao asked how a country that lacked the

    courage to look squarely at its history could win the trust of its neighbors.

    (Tokyo shimbun, 28 February 2001, p. 3). The mood in China was hardening

    after more than a year of smile diplomacy. When Japans leaders rejected

    all entreaties to revise the textbooks, explaining that it was a matter of free-

    dom of speech, and when Koizumi only moved his visit to the Yasukuni

    shrine forward instead of canceling it, the message left with the public wasthat Japan was glorifying its wartime aggression in Asia.

    Sino-Japanese relations soured in the first months of 2001 due not only to

    textbook revisions in Japan but also to what the Chinese called discrimina-

    tion by Japanese firms, and the Japanese called the bashing of Japanese

    companies. The media demanded an apology from both Japan Airlines and

    All Nippon Airlines for forcing Chinese passengers to spend the night in

    Japanese airports while treating other passengers differently. An outcry arose

    after Mitsubishi Motors recalled cars in the United States but refused to

    recall similar models in China. Matsushita refused to honor consumerclaims over defective cellular phones in China in a similar manner

    (Chugoku, 2001). Even as the Chinese government was striving to reduce

    criticism of Japan, consumer consciousness offered fertile soil in which com-

    plaints could flourish.

    Chinese criticisms of Japan in the mass media, on the internet, in labor

    troubles, in trade disputes and at the official level reached such a peak in

    the middle of 2001 that one nationalist Japanese journal called it Japan

    bashing fever (Sonoda and Yuasa, 2001, p. 167). Chinas government couldnot control the outpouring of emotions from below, blaming Japanese com-

    panies for discrimination in treatment of customers and types of goods sold,

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    accusing Japanese politicians of rekindling historic animosities, and, in

    essence, charging the Japanese people with violating the trust from China.

    As one problem after another was added to the list, the antagonisms were

    compounded. Relations and images have hit another low.

    In the midst of repeated acknowledgements that China is sincerelyendeavoring to create a new, forward-looking framework for bilateral rela-

    tions, many are suspicious. They suspect that the change from late 1999

    was just a tactical shift, largely due to anger with the United States. Some

    Chinese experts respond that it was, in fact, a sea change based on a

    far-reaching reassessment and recognition of the terrible e