Chinese Official: Sino-Japanese Relations 'Back on Track'

Huang Xinyuan says Sino-Japanese relations have recovered. That’s after Prime Minister Abe Shinzo‘s second meeting with President Hu Jintao this weekend at the APEC summit in Hanoi, and after five years of stilted relations during Koizumi Junichiro’s leadership in Japan.

“Since Prime Minister Abe’s visit to China,” Huang Xingyuan, Councilor with China’s Foreign Ministry, said today in Hanoi, “China-Japan relations have improved dramatically and are now back on track.”

The two leaders met today.

“The talks today were constructive and positive and will definitely improve China-Japan relations,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing Saturday. …

“This is a sign that both countries relations are improving and developing, and that progress is being made,” Hu told Abe, according to a pool statement released to reporters today. “China-Japan relations will be at this important juncture for some time and it is important that both countries’ leaders work toward developing relations in the right direction.” …

“We will continue to talk about the East China Sea,” Huang said, “and we’ll make the East China Sea an area of peace.”

Japan has urged China to stop exploration in the area until the two energy-hungry nations can set up a system for joint use of the reserves.

Japan earlier this month filed a protest with Beijing about Chinese activity in the area after detecting flames from an apparent burn-off of oil or gas — a possible sign that China was advancing its development of the disputed reserves.

The contentious issue of the Yasukuni Shrine was not discussed among the two leaders today, a Japanese government official told reporters on the condition he not be named.

Is the U.S. Outsourcing Pollution to China?

A China Daily (state-supported media) report asserts that the “western” media ignore the environmental impact of international business moving manufacturing to China. The story is on a think tank report from the China Council for International Co-operation on Environment and Development (CCICED).

The report suggests that when trade between China and its partners exerts an environmental impact, the responsibility should be borne by all parties, including manufacturers, traders and consumers in the product chain.

For example, it has been alleged that China poses a threat to tropical forests by importing timber from Southeast Asian countries. But 70 per cent of the timber is made into furniture and exported to the United States and European Union countries.

China’s environmental impact on Southeast Asia is far more exaggerated than the economic benefits it brings to the region, the report noted.

“China has been playing its role as a global workshop in the past two decades,” said Shen Guofang, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and core expert of the CCICED. “We import the raw material, produce, send the products abroad and keep the waste and pollution ourselves.”

The Corporate Social Responsibility in Asia blog notes that the effect may be even worse than moving the pollution.

The West is basically sending its pollution to China and that benefits the West! But when you consider China’s huge energy inefficiency and serious poor implementation of environmental regulations, I fear the net impact is probably far worse.

Indeed, if businesses move manufacturing from a country with a strict set of environmental regulations to China, the motivation to be clean disappears, and the externalized cost to the environment increases.

It seems that this should be a major topic of concern for U.S. activists, who might exert pressure on U.S. businesses.

For Foreign Businesses in China, the Peril of Law and Order

Some foreign businesses in China may not see the need to register. Today brings an urgent warning from Dan Harris on China Law Blog:

Consider this China Law Blog’s first URGENT ALERT.

For the second time in a month, we are hearing of mounting Chinese government efforts to crack down on unregistered foreign companies doing business in China. We see this as part and parcel of Beijing’s attempt to moderate rising Chinese resentment against foreign companies operating in China. [link]

I found this informative blog recently. It’s worth keeping an eye on, full of reminders about the minefield of law and regulation in a marketizing China.

Murdoch Gets His Way: Hu, Abe, and Bush to Meet at APEC

Reuters reports that the leaders of the United States, Japan, and China will meet in Hanoi:

China, Japan and the United States will “exchange views on bilateral ties and international and regional issues of common concern” on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Hanoi, the official Xinhua news agency reported in a brief dispatch.

Rupert Murdoch Sees Trilateral Summit, Hosted by U.S.

Rupert Murdoch, CEO and chairman of News Corp., told a Tokyo audience that U.S. President George W. Bush should host a trilateral summit with the leaders of China and Japan, Yomiuri Shimbun reports.

“China, Japan and the U.S. have much business to get through,” Murdoch said. “There are too many misunderstandings and misread signals among these countries.”

“In these times, sensitivity in foreign relations is of unusual importance and will inevitably have an impact on domestic policy,” he said, suggesting Japan’s economy would suffer the consequences if the country fails to resolve its strained relationship with China.

It’s unclear to me why Murdoch chose to make explicit his notion that Bush should play host, but a three-way discussion would certainly bring three big players to the table. Presently, the three states only work together in the context of the six-party talks on North Korean nuclear power.

Given that context, however, it may be read as a snub to South Korea and/or Russia to be left out of other discussions. Any trilateral meeting would probably be more successful in a time when North Korea could reasonably stay off the table. Even in discussions of economics, however, some states may feel snubbed: ASEAN is an important force in regional economic integration, and it is used to a seat at the table. Australia is used to inclusion in APEC, which was founded at the suggestion of an Australian leader.

The United States may also wish to avoid a trilateral meeting, since it would be hard to stay out of China–Japan disputes if all three were in a room. All the difficulties aside, I would certainly be interested to see such a summit, if only for my own curiosity.

Murdoch also criticized closed societies in comparing the prospects of China and India, saying:

“There is a vigorous debate about the relative strengths and weaknesses of China and India, but one fact is beyond debate: The free flow of information is a crucial advantage in an ultracompetitive world. There is no doubt that India is producing thousands of managers who are capable of running any company anywhere in the world. There is also no doubt that these impressive managers would not have developed in such impressive numbers if India attempted to dam the flow of facts or of opinion.”