As agreed in the telephonic conversation between Chinese premier Xi Jinping and new Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga that there should be more high-level contact to promote regional & international stability, the sources have claimed that the Chinese Foreign Minister may visit Tokyo as early as October. He would hold talks with the Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. It may seem normal to laymen, but China-watchers have raised their brows.
This is because when seen in the context of ongoing Chinese escalations in the East China Sea against Japan, humanitarian excesses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, it looks like Beijing’s attempt to reset the relations and salvage some sort of normalcy. It becomes further clear as Suga-san will be meeting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, when he comes to Tokyo for a meeting with his counterparts from India, Australia and Japan, (basically the first ministerial-level QUAD meet) and he is reaching out to South Korea for normalisation of bilateral relations.
Xi Jinping’s Japan visit which was planned for earlier this year got postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, remained stalled and till the end, Shinzo Abe was not too keen to hold a banquet for Xi Jinping. As has been previously reported by TFI, “Xi Jinping is looking for a new schedule to take off for the official visit to the eastern neighbor. However, Shinzo Abe does not seem so keen to welcome the Chinese leader.”
One doesn’t need to search too deep to find the reasoning behind it. Let us start with the Chinese decision of hiding the details and severity of COVID-19 in January and early February add to that the fact that China stopped domestic or interstate movement but continued with the international travel, the new security law in Hong Kong, industrial level of atrocities in Xinjiang, an uptick of provocative activities by Chinese vessels in Japanese waters near Senkaku Islands and many more.
As it has maximized its zones of confrontation, Beijing is looking at ways to contain the conflicts so that it can handle the conflict ready situations in the Himalayas and the South China Sea.
China has been playing a lot with fire recently, they try to escalate the matter in the East China Sea to a level that they can assert their claim to the Senkaku Islands but not to a level that it forces Japan to move to the International Court of Justice as Japan has been dependent on China economically. However, this time Beijing has stretched too far, and Japan is not only encouraging its companies to move production out of China but by leading the formulation of a statement of criticism for Chinese actions in Hong Kong, proved that Japan is the real sleeping dragon which China has dared to wake up. Getting the wind of it and to avoid any further humiliation, China has moved with godspeed to salvage any semblance of peace and seek reset in ties with the new boss man at the helm, that is, Yoshihide Suga.