Toward an “Asian Century”
While China’s developmental success has strengthened its confidence in promoting and projecting its influence overseas as demonstrated by the first two chapters on the activities at the people’s level, it should be added that its developmental success has certainly affected the way other states would like to relate themselves to China. With regard to the neighboring East Asian countries, the focus of this volume, it starts with the way that Japan could relate itself to China. Analysts on Sino-Japanese relations are well aware of the occasional tensions between the two countries because of history, territorial disputes, security, power rivalry and competition. However, in terms of economics, there is actually a lot of room for cooperation for the two countries. This is precisely what this chapter on Japan by Masaya Sakuragawa is trying to suggest by exploring if China and Japan could work together for an “Asian Century”. He would like to think that in order to overcome the dominance of the international system by the West, a rising China with the support and cooperation of Japan could strengthen Asian leadership in the global order. To do that, he noted that China and Japan would have to tackle several problems. Among them could be China’s slowdown in the technological progress, rapid credit expansion and housing bubbles, trade war with the US, dependence on the dominant role of the US dollar in the world economy, and constraints in taking a leadership role. The author would like to add that Japan, just like China, has problems in taking a leadership role in Asia because of its close links with the US resulting in its inability to make decisions independently. Last but not least, it is noted by the author that China and Japan do not have experience in exercising joint leadership and this may make it difficult for the two to work together to pursue their common interests.
In the light of the problems, Sakuragawa comes up with proposals to promote cooperation between China and Japan. These proposals include trade policy, international rule making, investment in infrastructure, cooperation with ASEAN, and establishing currency autonomy. The author contends that China or Japan by itself alone cannot compete with the US. The best case scenario would be for the two to join hands and cooperate for the future “Asian Century”.