Beijing not coveting Japan’s role as top U.S. ally: China expert


China has no intention of replacing Japan as Washington’s principal Asian ally, a Chinese expert on foreign policy said Friday in Tokyo.

Although some experts have predicted the U.S. may be inclined to favor China and its expanding economy over ties with Japan, Victor Gao, a director for Beijing-based think tank China National Association of International Studies, said that will not be the case.

“China is a friend of the U.S., but we are not in a strategic alliance. There is no major military cooperation, whereas Japan operates almost in sync with the U.S.,” Gao told The Japan Times.

“China doesn’t want to replace Japan,” he said, adding it has “every intention of remaining a very independent country in terms of its military orientation as well as its diplomatic position in the world.”

Gao, in Tokyo to attend an international conference, said China and the U.S. have been the two major growth engines in the global economy and thus their ties are the most important in the world.

Gao, who has worked for the Chinese government and as an English interpreter for the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, expressed hope that President Barack Obama will promptly revive the American economy without resorting to protectionism, which he believes would impair the global market.

Meanwhile, Japan also has a crucial role to play in China’s growing economy thanks to its expertise in efficient energy use and technology, he said.

Because their economies are so different in nature, Japan and China should be able to complement each other instead of competing for profit, Gao added.

Additionally, he foresees Tokyo and Beijing remaining the key stabilizing forces in Northeast Asia.

Regarding the six-party talks, Gao urged the delegates to stay focused on achieving the ultimate goal of North Korea’s denuclearization. Although the abduction of Japanese by Pyongyang is “a shame and must not be forgotten,” the parties involved “should not allow major issues like the abductions to stand in the way of achieving a much, much greater objective,” he said.

As for U.N. reform, Gao said China is ready to wholeheartedly welcome Japan as a member of the Security Council as soon as Tokyo clarifies its wartime responsibility.

“This is not a big request,” Gao said, though he noted that the respect paid to Class-A war criminals enshrined at Yasukuni Shrine continues to tarnish Japan’s image.