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On the Sino-Japanese Relationship Essay

Bibliography: 1. Jacques Gernet. A history of Chinese civilization. Cambridge University Press. 1996. 2. Asakawa, K.. The Early Institutional Life of Japan: A Study in Reform of 645, Japan. 1963. 3. B. , Barbara; Changgen, Yu. Chinese Foreign Policy during the Cultural Revolution. New York: Columbia University Press. 1998. 4. Hagström, Linus. Japan’s China Policy: A Relational Power Analysis, London and New York, 2005. 5. Hagström, Linus. Sino-Japanese Relations: The Ice That Won’t Melt, International Journal, 2008. 6. Sansom, George . A History of Japan to 1334. Stanford University Press. 1958. China and Japan are geographically separated by East China Sea. China has strongly influenced Japan with its writing system, architecture, culture, religion, philosophy, and law. The relationship between China and Japan is very complex, in different times, the relationship changes.

At very beginning, when China was ruled by Qin Shi Huang, he “sent several hundred people to Japan to search for medicines of immortality”.(1996) Other records at the time show that Japan already had the same customs recognized today. These include clapping during prayers, eating from wooden trays and eating raw fish.

During the Sui Dynasty and Tang Dynasty, Japan sent many students on a limited number of Imperial embassies to China, to help establish its own footing as a sovereign nation in northeast Asia. “After the fall of the Korean confederated kingdom of Baekje to combined Tang and Silla forces, Japan was forced to seek out the Chinese state on its own, which in those times was a treacherous undertaking, thus limiting the successes of Japanese overseas contacts during this time.”(1963)

In AD 663 the Battle of Baekgang took place, the first China-Japanese conflict in recorded history. “The battle was part of the ancient relationships between the Korean Three Kingdoms (Samguk or Samhan), the Japanese Yamato, and Chinese dynasties.”(1996) The battle itself came near the conclusion of this period with the fall of Baekje, one of the Samguk or three Korean kingdoms, coming on the heels of this battle.

From AD 600-1600, marine trades between China and Japan are well recorded, and many Chinese artifacts could be excavated. Baekje and Silla sometimes played the role of middleman, while direct commercial links between China and Japan flourished. “The ports of Ningbo and Hangzhou had the most direct trading links to Japan and had Japanese residents doing business. The Ming dynasty decreed that Ningbo was the only place where Japanese-Chinese relations could take place.”(1996) After 663, Japan had no choice but to directly trade with the Chinese dynasties. At first the Japanese had little long-range seafaring expertise of their own but eventually the Japanese improved their naval prowess as well as the construction of their ships.

Then, it was 1890s. After the arrival of Commodore Perry and the forced opening of Japan to western trading, Japan realized it needed to modernize to avoid the humiliation of China during the Opium Wars. Friction between China and Japan arose from Japan’s control over the Ryukyu Islands from 1870, annexation of Taiwan after the First Sino-Japanese war of 1894. China was almost forced to cede more territory in Manchuria but was saved by Russian intervention. Despite this, China still paid a huge indemnity and relinquished Taiwan.

The next stage was the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II. In 1931, “Japan fully occupied Manchuria and created a new state called Manchukoku (Manchukuo), after a series of incidents culminating in the Mukden Incident and came to full scale invasion of China in July 1937.”(2008) Japan was soon able to gain control over all Chinese outlying territories.

The Japanese invaded Beijing after accusing the Chinese Second United Front troops of shooting at Marco Polo Bridge. This marked the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Chinese nationalist aircraft then bombed Japanese positions in Shanghai and marked the beginning of the Battle of Shanghai. Afterwards, the Japanese advanced and faced little resistance as the best Chinese troops were sacrificed in Shanghai. “Japanese troops massacred Chinese prisoners of war (considered shameful by Japanese Bushido) and civilians over the course of two months during the Rape of Nanking.”(2008) Actual numbers of killed vary according to Chinese or Japanese sources. Chinese sources accept 300,000 or more killed. In 1945, Japan’s unconditional surrender shows the Chinese victory of the war.

After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, relations with Japan changed from hostility and an absence of contact to cordiality and extremely close cooperation in many fields. But some Japanese fear that the economic and military power of the China has been increasing.

In December 1971, the Chinese and Japanese trade liaison offices began to discuss the possibility of restoring diplomatic trade relations, and “in July 1972, Kakuei Tanaka succeeded Eisaku Satō as a new Japanese Prime Minister. Tanaka assumed a normalization of the Sino-Japanese relations. Furthermore, the 1972 Nixon visit to China encouraged the normalization process. His visit to Beijing culminated in the signing a joint statement on September 29, 1972.”(2005) The Japanese agreed to most of the PRC’s demands, including the political status of Taiwan. Subsequently, the bilateral economic relationships grew rapidly: 28 Japanese and 30 Chinese economic and trade missions visited their partner country.

In 2001, Japan’s Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visits the Yasukuni Shrine, a dedication to the country’s fallen soldiers. His visit is seen by many Chinese as symbolizing a denial of Japan’s World Word II war crimes, specifically the Rape of Nanjing.

In 2005, Sino-Japanese “relations deteriorate after Japanese textbooks understate Rape of Nanjing atrocities. Violent anti-Japanese protests erupt throughout China, North Korea, South Korea and other Asian nations.”(2008)

Now, a series of chess moves by China and Japan over the Diaoyu islands frays already fragile relations. On Aug. 15, Japanese police arrested China activists who had sailed to the islands. This enrages Chinese all over the world, people boycott Japanese goods and anti-Japanese one after another.

From my point of view, Japan has crossed the line. We want a good relationship and a peaceful world, but we cannot accept someone warp the history and grab territory. As a Chinese student, I have special feelings toward Japan from childhood, what all I hope is Japan could be less agressive.


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