Managing a Changing Relationship: China's Japan Policy in the 1990s

  • September 01, 1996
  • Prof Robert S Ross

In April 1996, the Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute held its Seventh Annual Strategy Conference. This year's theme was, "China into the 21st Century: Strategic Partner and . . . or Peer Competitor." The author of the following monograph, Dr. Robert S. Ross, of Harvard University's Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, argues that Japan's relationship with China is a key element in the evolving East Asian security structure. From Beijing's perspective, China's Japan policy rivals its relationship with the United States in relative strategic importance. Japan's economic strength and its potential military power make it a major factor in Chinese security calculations. Many of the same factors that affect Sino-American relations and Sino-Russian relations are integral to the relationship between Beijing and Tokyo. Among these are Chinese treatment of dissidents, the Taiwan issue, economic investment, and Japanese military policy and strategy. Today Japanese and Chinese interests compete in many areas, requiring tolerance, patience and diplomatic sophistication to keep competition from evolving into conflict. In the future, these challenges are likely to grow in complexity.