Saturday, October 30, 2010

Let’s Hope Mr. Fukuyama Has Worked Out His Announcement with His Chinese Counterpart

According to this Sankei report, Prime Ministers Kan and Wen did have a chat around the ASEAN summitries in Hanoi after all. Tetsuro Fukuyama, the Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, the two prime ministers held a ten minute chat in the waiting room for heads of state/government this morning (October 30), less than 24 hours after the Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue unilaterally announced that China was cancelling the eagerly awaited post-Senkaku bilateral meeting between the two and delivered a blistering tirade against the most recent Japanese actions surrounding the Senkaku Islands and the South China Sea gas fields. Fukuyama reportedly told the media that the two heads of government shared a common understanding that they:
a) regret that the summit meeting did not occur this time;
b) appreciate the resumption of the private sector exchange between Japan and China;
c) will strive to promote the strategic mutually beneficial relationship; and
d) will create an opportunity in the future to talk at their leisure.
I hope that Fukuyama has worked out his latest statement with his Chinese counterpart—the Japanese announcement of the bilateral meeting reportedly was marred by conflicting reports by government officials about a Chinese cancellation, which turned out to be true—so that it will not be followed yet another dressing-down by the Chinese deputy foreign minister or worse. After all, Wen (if, yet again, reports are to be believed) is under some pressure from hardliners for his more conciliatory policy regarding China’s relations with Japan. To look at this from a different angle, if Fukuyama is not directly contradicted by the Chinese authorities, that would be strong indication that the fix is in, and that the Chinese authorities are really serious about rapprochement.

Note that the Chinese gripe about the gas field announcement appears to have been the result of an erroneous AFP wire that was subsequently corrected after a Japanese MOFA protest. Does this give enough wiggle room to Wen? Hard to believe; it sounds too trivial. But you never know. It’s certainly not encouraging to know that the Chinese side didn’t bother to confirm the wire service report before acting.

1 comment:

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