East Asia at Crossroads – China and Japan as Historical Mirrors, and Contemporary Images in International Relations

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: East Asia at Crossroads – China and Japan as Historical Mirrors, and Contemporary Images in International Relations
Stream: International Relations
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Egas Moniz Bandeira, Tohoku University, Japan (presenter)
Ernest Ming-Tak Leung, Chinese University of Hong Kong, China (presenter)
Shahana Thankachan, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India (organizer, presenter)
Keyi Jiang, Chinese University of Hong Kong, China (presenter)
Juan Luis Lopez Aranguren, University of Zaragoza, Spain (discussant)
Toshihiro Minohara, Kobe University, Japan (discussant)
Srabani Roy Choudhury, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India (Chair)


The relationship between China and Japan remains a pivotal aspect of Asia in the 21st century. As Japan adjusts to China’s growing power so does China try to determine what it means for itself to be a big power. The sentiment that today’s China is mirroring early 20th century Japan, as well as the emulation of Beijing’s securitization of its environment by Tokyo, are contributing to building further resentment on both sides.
This panel will investigate the historical and political process whereby both countries have been interacting with each other. It will show that shifting power balances have been changing political discourses since the late 19 century, but also that a complex mixture of rivalry and cooperation has brought about not only contradictions but also similarities in appraising and responding to new developments.
The first paper looks at how the Japanese notion of an unbroken line of Emperors was appropriated by Chinese leaders to advance a nationalist cause at the beginning of the 20 century. From this comparison, the subsequent paper will argue that, historically, China’s development model was a product of Japanese appropriation of European economic thought. The following paper investigates the present developmental aid model that China and Japan joust to implement in Africa. As Japan decries China’s approach to aid in Africa, the fourth paper investigates the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute to show how issues of humiliation and pride affect Japan’s relations with China. The final presentation reveals the negotiations on pan-Asianism between Japan and China and how their roles have shifted from the 1930s to today.
By the end, the audience will have a new appreciation for the modern China-Japan relationship beyond rivalry, but as a complex intertwined connection that mirrors as much as repels the other.