Regarding the May 10 article “And now to trilateralism,” by Brad Glosserman and Bonnie Glaser: The supposed entente between China and Japan is superficial and will likely evaporate with the next insult from Japan or aggressive move by China in the East China Sea. The fundamental problem is not China’s rise or Japan’s new foreign policy assertiveness; it is the deep sense of humiliation and lingering resentment of the treatment of Chinese by Japan before and during World War II and the continued cultural and ethnic arrogance of Japanese toward its neighbors. These are not factors that can be changed by a visit from a new Japanese prime minister.

And there is very little the United States can do to ameliorate these differences. The writers’ denial that “Washington seeks to exploit or encourage the Japan-China rivalry” is not credible. Perhaps if the U.S. were to invite China to join the U.S.-Japan ballistic missile defense system (similar to its offer to Russia), it could convince China of U.S. good intentions. Otherwise, China is justified in its suspicions of U.S. strategic objectives.

Glosserman and Glaser’s U.S. bias is also demonstrated by their putting the onus on China to make “a positive contribution to regional and global problems.” They should consider the fact that the U.S. and Japan could do better in this regard. In this context, “engaging China trilaterally” is meaningless, especially to analysts and decision-makers in China.

mark valencia

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