Promoting China-Japan relations through culture

By Zhou Mingwei
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, June 18, 2014
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Zhou Mingwei, president of China International Publishing Group (CIPG) [Photo/]

Zhou Mingwei, president of China International Publishing Group (CIPG) [Photo/]

Recently, China-Japan relations have aroused a great deal of public concern. Last year, although non-governmental exchanges increased, the barriers between the two countries intensified, especially on questions of history, territorial sovereignty and security. Forty years after the normalization of their diplomatic relations, the world's second and third largest economies still face historical and territorial conflicts which are seriously affecting their mutual relationship.

Despite there are many problems waiting for solution relating to trade and cultural exchanges, mutual trust, the security mechanism and environmental management, the Japanese government has a tendency to emphasize contradictions about the war of aggression which deeply hurt the feelings of both the Chinese and Japanese people. Furthermore, the Japanese government often provokes conflicts about the Diaoyu Islands issue, which easily stirs up the nationalist sentiments of the Chinese people.

Forty years of experience have proven that the two sides are able to solve the contradiction and conflicts if historical and territorial problems can be dealt with properly. However, the Japanese government intentionally picks up on the two most sensitive and complicated issues, which spoils bilateral relations and obstructs the development of a normal relationship.

In my point of view, there are two reasons that have led to the current situation.

Firstly, some Japanese people have wrongly understood China's development and the changes it has gone through over the past 30 years. Some Japanese politicians, who still have a Cold War mentality, cannot accept China's development, and even seek to demonize it. Since China has surpassed Japan becoming the world's second largest economy, several Japanese extremists have become irrational and have gone out of control.

Secondly, Japan is currently provoking historical and territorial conflicts for its own political purposes. During the past year, Japanese leaders have visited more than 40 countries, and attempted to make China an enemy of Japan and the international community. Actually, what they really want to do is to make up excuses for constitutional amendments and arms expansion.

However, there are different voices in Japan about whether China's economic development damages the interests of others, whether it is an opportunity or challenge, and whether China is a threat or partner.

As a country with a population of 1.3 billion, China's motivation for development over the past 30 years is to improve the living standards of its people, rather than considerations about the ideological or social system. China's economic development never aims at surpassing or threatening any country, including Japan. On the contrary, China's progress has provided a great opportunity and development space for Japan to get common prosperity.

In order to participate in the world economy, China needs a peaceful, cooperative and stable international environment. By the end of last year, China had become the largest trade partner for over 130 countries across the world. A peaceful, cooperative and stable international environment is in line not only with Chinese future economic development, and the Chinese dream, but also the regional and global economy, and world peace and stability. For this, China wants to build a new type of relationship between major countries, and further its friendly relations with neighboring countries.

Following a path of peaceful development is not only China's basic state policy, but also the requirement of Chinese traditional culture and contemporary reform and development. A renowned American scholar once said that if you treat China as a friend, it will be your friend; whereas if you see it as an enemy, it might become your enemy. Japan is the only country in Chinese history that has interrupted China's modernization process, on two occasions. But on the path of peaceful development, China still hopes to cooperate with Japan, and expects to see more responsible Japanese leaders to work for long-term friendly bilateral relations together with China.

Culture exchange plays an important role in bilateral communication and relations. Even under the current conditions, people-to-people cultural exchanges are still expected to play a special role. I think China and Japan need to do the following four things, to work together for a better future.

Firstly, be passionate. Only passion can make cultural exchanges more attractive and contagious. The exchanges and communications between the two countries should be vigorous, enduring and far-sighted.

Secondly, make use of famous figures. Celebrities in the academia, arts and other areas of culture should become cultural exchange ambassadors to lead bilateral communications and attract more people, especially young people, to take part in exchange activities.

Thirdly, make friends. Friendship groups at all levels should try to make friends with each other during various activities. Friendly relationships can be the foundation for people-to-people exchanges which would achieve more in bilateral cultural communication.

Last but not least, set up mechanisms. To make cultural communication activities more practical and efficient, three kinds of coordination committees should be established: coordination committees composed of official Chinese and Japanese and non-government organizations; coordination committees focused on media exchanges, and coordination committees for youth exchanges between China and Japan.

In addition, new mechanisms are also required for economic and trade exchanges. Major cooperation projects can support and promote bilateral economic and trade exchanges. China and Japan should establish major cooperation projects in areas such as environmental protection, urban management and new energy, where Japan has technical advantages and China has huge market demand.

The author is a CPPCC National Committee member and president of the China International Publishing Group (CIPG).

This article was written in Chinese and translated by Lin Liyao.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

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