Sino-Japanese SNAFU in Hanoi: “Full Responsibility”

There’s nothing particular to say about the meeting between Chinese chief councillor Wen Jiabao (温家宝) and Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan, because the meeting didn’t take place, during the meeting of East Asian leaders in Hanoi. Then again, a lot needs to be said about why it didn’t take place. While this is, naturally, all the fault of the Japanese side, the Chinese side spares no pains to explain this natural law to the rest of the world in more detail.

Chinese deputy foreign minister Hu Zhengyue (胡正跃) accused “the Japanese side” of having constantly spread views to the press which violated China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity (日方在东亚领导人系列会议期间通过媒体不断散布侵犯中国主权和领土完整的言论), writes Fenghuang Net (Phoenix, the internet platform of the Hong Kong-based Phoenix satellite television station). In addition, the content of the talks between the Chinese and Japanese foreign ministers had been incorrectly spread, too*) , thus damaging the appropriate atmosphere for a meeting between Wen and Kan. The Japanese side had to bear the full responsibility for the consequences, said Hu. Japanese media had reported that during the talks between the two foreign ministers, Yang Jiechi and Seiji Maehara, both had agreed that talks about oil and gas development on the East China Sea should be resumed (日本媒体29日报道,中国外交部长杨洁篪跟日本外相前原诚司当天上午会见时,双方同意将恢复关于东海油气田开发问题的谈判), according to Fenghuang. A spokesperson of the Chinese delegation who attended the foreign ministers’ meeting then said that this coverage was completely out of accordance with the facts. Rather, Yang had said that Japan should continue to work together with China (与中方相向而行), to create the atmosphere and conditions for a consensus for a consensus in principle on the East China Sea issues (外交部长杨洁篪当时表示,日方应与中方相向而行,为落实东海问题原则共识创造气氛和条件).

A Mainichi Daily News article suspects that China had been quietly preparing to call off the talks from the outset. On the other hand, the suddenness of the cancellation could also mean that Chinese leaders were out of step when it comes to their Japan policy.

[All that said, JR believes that the Yellow Emperor is simply a bit frustrated and wants to see some new faces when meeting his tributaries next time.]

In another report, quoting Kyodo, Mainichi Daily News reports that Wen Jiabao had assured Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and South Korean President Lee Myung Bak – in trilateral talks – that his country would continue to supply rare earth minerals to the world.

Obviously, if this report should, at any point in time, turn out to be completely out of accordance with the facts, the Japanese side will have to bear the full responsibility.

____________

Note
*) The Fenghuang report doesn’t seem to be explicit about actual leaks from the Japanese government to the press here – 散布 (sàn bù) should be translated as “to spread” or “to disseminate” in this context, and while the Chinese anger seems to be aimed at the Japanese foreign minister, the dissemination is simply blamed on the Japanese side (日方) – it could be read as an accusation which includes the Japanese press, just as well.
The mortal sin of the Japanese, in the eyes of the Chinese delegation, seems to be that Japanese diplomatic authorities have partnered with other nations and stepped up the heat on the Diaoyu island issue (Hu Zhengyue as quoted by Agence-France Press, AFP). That the Chinese delegation criticizes Tokyo for talking about the Senkaku (Diaoyu) issue with other governments than Beijing would also suggest that Beijing did actually try the same approach some time earlier this year, on its South-East-Asian neighbors back then. The Financial Times reported in August that China had apparently told Vietnam and other stakeholders not to discuss South China Sea issue among themselves, but only bilaterally with Beijing.

Related
Strategic Commodities, October 26, 2010
No multilateral Negotiations, no Internationalization, Asia Sentinel, October 11, 2010
Kan and Wen “agree to mend bilateral ties”, Mainichi Daily News (Kyodo), Oct. 10, 2010
Rare Earth no Bargaining Chip, People’s Daily Online, October 8, 2010

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