Leaving aside guesswork on Chinese motives, I think that the first report is a sign that the Chinese authorities want to limit their reputation risk abroad while containing discontent at home—the demonstrations have all occurred in the less prosperous interior provinces (and Chongqing, a special city in the interior), the most recent ones spilling over into domestic complaints—which means that Hu will show, the only suspense surrounding the status of a bilateral that should take place on the sidelines. The second report? A reminder that the US is the other big dog in the neighborhood, as well as possibly a manifestation of the Chinese authorities’ desire to localize if not completely isolate in the minds of the Chinese public the undesired elements of the Japanese political establishment. There is no mention of the near-universal if low-key Japanese aversion to Chinese actions around the latest Senkaku incdident***.
(Addendum) More to the point, this Global Times editorial puts the blame squarely on Maehara’s shoulders. Note also that Maehara has risen to the top of the preferred politicians in Japan according to the latest Nikkei-TV Tokyo public opinion poll. I don’t think that this is a delayed recognition for his JAL bankruptcy workout efforts, or his less commendable work on the Yamba Dam project.
* Is it just me, or is AFP generally less reliable than, say, Reuters?
** Damien, you will remember, blogs at the Atlantic website, a considerably more prestigious piece of virtual real estate than my more modest efforts. Little known fact: Damien played lead guitar for Johnny Cash’s studio recordings in the country legend’s last years. He is also quickly becoming an authority on rare earth elements. True story.
*** The Chinese belligerence took the Japanese public by surprise and captured its attention in a way that reminded me of the national response to the revelations of the North Korean abduction of Japanese citizen albeit in a much more low-key way. So many people in Japan, including those who had shown little to no interest in Japan’s international relations, or politics for that matter, woke up and took note.