NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING

  • Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • China and Japan: Commercial Allies or Strategic Rivals?


    Robert Lee: China and Japan economies depend on each other but nationalist forces play on historic antagonisms -   October 16, 2012
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


    Audio

    Share to Facebook Share to Twitter




    I support the Real News Network because of their bravery, integrity, informative and educational - David Pear
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

    Bio

    Robert Lee is a graduate of University of Toronto with a Masters in Japanese literature. After graduating from the University of Texas Law School, he worked as a lawyer with Baker & McKenzie. In 1984, he founded his my own firm with offices in Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong. His clients are mainly Japanese and Chinese companies doing business in the region.

    Transcript

    China and Japan: Commercial Allies or Strategic Rivals?PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore.

    On October 10, Bloomberg reports that China may surpass Japan as the world's second most wealthy country by 2017. According to this Bloomberg report and a report by Credit Suisse Group AG, China will add $18 trillion in household wealth by 2017, taking its total to $38 trillion, according to the bank's global wealth report today. That would surpass Japan's $35 trillion and be less than half the U.S.'s $89 trillion. China, which is embroiled in a territorial dispute with Japan over islands in the East China Sea, surpassed its Asian rival to become the world's second-largest economy in the second quarter of 2010. It had an annual gross domestic product of $7.3 trillion at the end of last year, compared with Japan's $5.9 trillion. And that's really a question in terms of Japanese-Chinese relations. Bloomberg calls them rivals, but are they more natural allies? Or are they in fact natural rivals? And how significant is this dispute over the islands in the East China Sea?

    Now joining us to talk about all of this is Robert Lee. He's a graduate of the University of Toronto with a masters in Japanese literature. In 1984 he founded his own law firm with offices in Tokyo, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, and his clients are mainly Japanese and Chinese companies doing business in the region. And Robert is also a member of the Real News board. Thanks very much for joining us, Robert.

    ROBERT LEE, COMMERCIAL LAWYER AND ENTREPRENEUR: Glad to be here, Paul.

    JAY: So, Robert, can you recap the arguments from both sides about who owns the islands?

    LEE: Okay. Well, from China's point of view, they have records going back to the 14th century showing that the islands existed and they named them first and so on. But the islands have always been uninhabited. The Japanese first come on the scene, really, in the 1880s, when they did some geological surveys of the area around Okinawa and those islands in the South China Sea. So they then—as you know, there was a war between China and Japan in 1894 to 1895, and that was when Taiwan was ceded to Japan, and also some islands near these particular islands called the Pescadores, with the Japanese claim that they had actually put a flag on the islands separate and apart from that war. Because they were uninhabited, it didn't glom to Taiwan. There was no evidence of Chinese control. So they just claimed them more or less as explorers.

    And then we come to the Second World War and the San Francisco Peace Treaty, at which time Japan, of course, had to renounce ownership of all of the lands, all of the territories that it took through aggression not only in the Second World War but prior to that—Korea, Taiwan, and the Pescadores Islands and some other islands in the South China Sea. But the Senkaku Islands were not included in that renunciation, because the Japanese position was they'd been claimed separate and apart from that war and they were not taken as a result of illegal aggression.

    JAY: And the Chinese don't agree with this interpretation. They say they were taken during the course of this 1890s war. And that's, I guess, the hub of or nub of the disagreement, is it?

    LEE: Yes, I think so. And they also claim, of course, that long before that, they were known to the Chinese and recorded in their maps and so on. So they probably have the longer claim than Japan, without question.

    JAY: So without getting into the right or wrong of this, what's the actual value of these islands? There are apparently some energy resources around the islands. Is that significant? Or is this more the islands a symbol of a broader tension or contention?

    LEE: Well, my understanding is that the resources are significant. It's not anything like the Middle East or—. But there are significant resources in terms of gas and oil. And that's really the reason why the dispute arose, because it was only in the 1970s, subsequent to some United Nations survey, that these resources were first discovered. So—and it was only from that time that Taiwan and China started to make claims. They hadn't made any claim at the time of the San Francisco treaty in 1952.

    JAY: And if I understand correctly, that [dZoUn'laI] had made a deal, after the Chinese Revolution, with the Japanese which essentially was, you know, let's just both forget the claim and just see what we can do in terms of cooperation. And that was done more, even, under Deng Xiaoping, that they agreed—there was some kind of agreement, I think, for a joint energy development of some kind, but not really much happened. And then recently tell us what happened, because there's some kind of nationalist forces on both sides, but in Japan some of the kind of really nationalist forces were—I think they'd made a trip to the islands and planted a Japanese flag there and such. But they were also privately owned. It's a little confusing.

    LEE: Yeah. It really first came to my attention recently in Hong Kong when a boat manned by Hong Kong residents decided to make a trip there and assert Chinese sovereignty. This has happened before. And because these trips often lead to tensions rising, the previous administration of Hong Kong prevented boats from leaving Hong Kong to go to those islands. But this didn't happen recently. We've had a change of chief executive, as you know, and the new chief executive is regarded as more pro-Beijing.

    JAY: And I should—Robert, I should tell people—I think I didn't do this in the introduction—that you are based in Hong Kong, and that's where you are at the moment.

    LEE: That's right. So there is some suspicion that Beijing was able to put pressure on or allow the new chief executive, C. Y. Leung, to permit this boat to go, knowing that it would cause a reaction. But I think prior to that there had been this sale of the islands. And I learned some background about this from a client who happens to be a longtime friend of Ishihara, the mayor of Tokyo, that started the purchase.

    Apparently, the family that owns a number of the islands and has owned them for decades was in need of money and went to Ishihara, who they knew I don't know how, but they knew of him and said, we want to sell our islands, we need the money to pay off some debts. And Ishihara, who is no great friend of China and agreed to do this, the price was about $2 million, a little less than JPY200 million.

    Well, he had to announce that, of course, because it was Tokyo City. And as soon as he did, and perhaps even before, a lot of other people showed some interest, including Chinese groups and Chinese companies. And, of course, Ishihara is not about to sell the islands to a Chinese concern. So it started to become a bit of a news item.

    And that's when the central government stepped in in Tokyo. And, again, I'm not sure whether they did it on their own or whether they were somehow manipulated by the Chinese, who would be starting to protest about this purchase by the City of Tokyo. Anyway, the central government decided to take over the transaction and agreed with the owners to buy the islands for ten times the price, $20 million.

    Now, according to my source, the family had agreed with Ishihara not to sell to anyone other than him, but this was just too big an increase, and they went to him and bowed and said, we're sorry, we're going to have to sell to the central government. And that's what happened.

    And that's when things really blew over the Chinese, because it's a little different between the city buying these islands and the national government, because of course while Japan has always claimed sovereignty, actually buying the islands is nationalization. It amounts to taking open steps to try and legally enforce your sovereignty. So that was something that the Chinese really had to respond to. I think the Japanese miscalculated in terms of the reaction.

    JAY: Now, in terms of the broader question of whether China is and Japan are naturally rivals or are they allies, you're involved in a lot of Japanese-Chinese trade, so there's a lot of interpenetration between the two economies, a lot of Japanese investment in China. Talk a bit about the extent of that. And what do you make of this question, rivals or friends?

    LEE: Yeah. Well, China is a more important trading partner than the United States with Japan now. So Japan sells its equipment, its factory equipment, its cars, its electronic products, and it manufactures a large portion of them in China. So there's no question that there's an inevitable deep economic relationship. And China has benefited from that. Both countries have benefited from it. In fact, the recent slowdown in China as a result of the financial crisis and the euro crisis was softened quite a lot by the fact that trade with Japan did not diminish as much as trade with Europe. Purchases with Europe and the States fell off, but not so much from Japan. And that was very important in maintaining China's growth and is an essential part of Chinese growth in the future.

    JAY: You'd think as the world develops more into these regional blocks that there's a potential global powerhouse with a closer Japanese-Chinese relationship. But is this history too much for that to happen?

    LEE: If they could be natural allies, there probably would be no need for the United States to have very much of a presence in Asia. And in a sense, Japan has been America's proxy for Asia ever since the Second World War, although now America is again trying to come back and play a direct role. So, yeah, it's difficult to see China and Japan fighting openly over control for Asia.

    JAY: But it sounds like you're suggesting the rivalry is in U.S. interests. It wouldn't—the United States would not like to see such a close—a closer Japanese-Chinese relationship, especially if it ever became strategic.

    LEE: Yes. It's interesting. From the Chinese point of view, the Japanese are always suspected of helping out the Americans. And, in fact, one of my close Chinese friends in Hong Kong or Hong Kong friends said quite openly that he thought America was behind Japan's actions in this dispute.

    JAY: The island dispute.

    LEE: The island dispute, yeah, which doesn't make a lot of sense when you realize that [iSi'hAr@s{n] is almost as anti-American as he is anti-Chinese. But nevertheless, the Chinese see America's hand behind any action by Japan to be more assertive.

    JAY: On a straight economic level, with the amount of trade and transactions you see between China and Japan, there's a lot of economic rivalry at the heart of all this. Does some of this push U.S. interests around? I doubt it pushes them out, but does it kind of give them a pressure they'd rather not have, especially Japan as a competitor in China?

    LEE: Yeah. I think America has been able to take Japan for granted as an ally right up to the present time, and they certainly would not be comfortable with Japan and China having too close a relationship. But it's—this particular dispute is likely to result in exactly that, I think, because [incompr.] it really isn't a Japanese-Chinese dispute.

    I think from the Japanese perspective, you'd happen to come up in this island dispute. But Japan is looking to be a little more assertive. Japanese people want to see their government take a more effective role in the international scene. That doesn't mean they want it to be militaristic. But they really do think that their government has been too weak internationally. And that is going to change, I think. And that doesn't necessarily mean that they'll—right-wing extremists are going to push for bad relations with China, but I think it's going to mean that both the United States and China are going to have to recognize that Japan does have a more assertive role and that things such as what happened here in the [s{n't{gw@] Islands are not really as serious as they think. I mean, they—.

    JAY: Well, does Japanese public opinion want to see more independence from the United States?

    LEE: Yeah, and I think you can see, because of the dispute with China and because of the natural rivalry economically, you're going to see some shift away from China to Southeast Asia. Japan has naturally more allies in Southeast Asia. The image of the Japanese is far better among Southeast Asians than the image of China, for instance. So there is definitely among my clients and Japanese business acquaintances, some of them have realized that they—while they will not abandon China and you can't ignore that market, they're looking for what they call China+1, or maybe China+2, by shifting some of their production to Southeast Asia, opening up the new markets in [crosstalk]

    JAY: But, of course, China has the same plan, and the U.S. is there and wants to expand as well. So rivalry amongst all three I guess we're going to be seeing more of.

    LEE: Yes. I think—in that rivalry, though, I think Japan and the United States will have an advantage over China, because the Chinese have always been in Southeast Asia. There are large Chinese overseas populations in most of the countries of Southeast Asia, and generally the relations are not always that good. There's already too much influence, overseas Chinese influence in a lot of Southeast Asian nations. So they're always looking to reduce that. And that will give Japan and the United States a continuing edge in Southeast Asia.

    JAY: Right. Alright. Thanks very much for joining us, Robert. We'll continue coming to you and talking about these issues.

    LEE: Okay.

    JAY: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

    End

    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Comments

    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

    Comments


    Latest Stories


    The Modern History of Venezuela and Popular Democracy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (9/9)
    Obama's Wrong Headed Approach To China
    Assessing the U.S. Environmental Movement on Earth Day 2014
    UAW Case Shows Weakness of Labor Law
    Exclusive Investigation Uncovers How BP Uses Bribes To Do Business
    The Modern History of Venezuela, The Protests and Democracy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (8/9)
    Greek Politics 4 Years After The Financial Crisis
    CBO Report Confirms U.S. Deficit Back to Normal Level
    Israel Uses Refugees as "Currency" in Arms Trade with Africa
    Who Will Pay for Climate Change Disaster?
    Canada Shifts to Right Under Harper, Mimicking the United States
    The Savings and Loan Crisis Demonstrates the Importance of Glass-Steagall
    South African Platinum Miner's Struggle Challenges ANC Leadership
    TRNN Original Report: Manning Determined to Fight Back After Army Upholds 35- Year Sentence
    Hundredth Anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre
    The Bundy Ranch Standoff Demonstrates Values Shared by Corporations and the Far Right
    The Resegregation of American Schools
    The Modern History of Venezuela, Why Still So Much Crime? - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (7/9)
    What Role Has Russia Played in Eastern Ukraine?
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (2/2)
    University Sit-In Targets World's Largest Private Coal Company
    The Modern History of Venezuela and the Need for a Post-Oil Economy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (6/9)
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (1/2)
    One Percent of Environmentalists Killings Lead to Convictions
    Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper Attack on Protestors
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Ukraine Transitional Gov't Moves Militarily To Reclaim Seized Buildings
    IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions
    The Modern History of Venezuela: The Bolivarian Revolution - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (5/9)
    Obama Signs Directives to Reduce the Gender Wage Gap
    Eastern Ukraine Lacks Political Representation in Kiev
    Demystifying the Role of Mitigation in the Most Recent IPCC Report
    Hypersurveillance State Won't Prevent Another Boston Marathon Bombing
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Univ. of Maine Faculty Reinstated After Students Protest Against Cuts
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1908 to 1973 - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (2/9)
    IMF Will Address Global Inequality, Says Managing Director Christine Lagarde
    Raising Big Banks' Leverage Ratio Good, But Not Nearly Enough
    TRNN Replay: Austerity Road to 19th Century
    Has Palestinian Maneuvering Revived Peace Talks?
    Late Jackson Mayor Lumumba's Son Wins Primary to Replace His Father, Runoff Election Ahead
    Quebecers Reject PQ and Elect a Liberal Government Representing Big Business
    TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. Legalization
    The Beginning of the Chavez Era - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (4/9)
    "Off With His Head": Court Upholds Obama's Power to Kill
    Workers at Nation's Top Hospital Strike For Fair Wages
    From Exile to Radicalization in Venezuela - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (1/9)
    Rwanda 20 Years Later: Genocide, Western Plunder of Congo, and President Kagame
    Ukrainian Protesters in the East Demand More Autonomy From Kiev Government
    Hunger Strikers Demand President Obama Halt His Record 2 Million Deportations
    Indian Parliamentary Elections - A Primer With Vijay Prashad
    West Looks to Carve Up Ukraine & Privatize Industries Held by Kleptocrats
    Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?
    The Multiple Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia (5/5)
    Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?
    Republican Presidential Hopefuls Pay Homage to Billionaire Casino Tycoon Sheldon Adelson
    Will Extremist Lieberman Become Israel's Next Prime Minister?
    Why do the Saudis Want the US to Attack Iran? (4/5)
    Immigrant Advocates and Families Tell President Obama 'Not One More'
    Elections, Pipelines, and Protests - The Canada Panel
    Chris Hedges on "Israel's War on American Universities"
    Baltimore Residents Decry Lack of Affordable Housing
    Yellen Talks the Talk But Will She Walk the Walk?
    Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against "Poverty Wages"
    Will Venezuela's New Floating Exchange Rate Curb Inflation?
    The European Central Bank's War on Wages is Pushing Europe's Economy to the Brink
    Supreme Court Decision Opens Floodgates for More Campaign Cash
    Charles Keating, the Financier Behind the Savings and Loan Scandal, Dies at 90
    Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
    Maryland Residents Voice Opposition to Natural Gas Fracking Export Facility
    Supreme Court Ruling Gives Wealthy Individuals More Influence Over Elections
    What are the Saudis Afraid Of? - Madawi Al-Rasheed (2/5)
    Baltimore's MICA Adjunct Professors Set to Vote on Unionization
    Boycott of Israel Moving to Next Level?
    Hypocrisy Dressed Up as "Realism" Justifies American Alliance with Saudi Dictatorship
    Immigration Reform in the Shadows of Cesar Chavez's Legacy
    Leaked Senate Report Shows Use of Torture As "Ineffective"
    UN Report Says Climate Change Will Threaten Food Production Worldwide
    The Hypocrisy of US Calling for Enforcement of International Law
    How the Ecuadorian Economy Grew in a Global Recession
    'Shadows of Liberty' Trailer
    Kristina Borjesson on Why CBS Shut Down Her investigation into Flight 800 (2/8)
    Glen Ford on Racism in the American Media (3/8)
    Paul Jay on What Drives Corporate Media and What Drive The Real News (4/8)
    Creating a New Media Paradigm After Citizens United (5/8)
    Should The Left Engage with the Mainstream Media? (6/8)
    What Is the Financial Backing For The Real News? (7/8)
    Standing up to Character Assassination (8/8)
    Oligarchs, Fascists and the People's Protest in Ukraine
    TRNN Debate: Is Obamacare In the Interest of Workers?
    Too-Big-To-Fail Advantage Remains Intact For Big Banks
    Obama and the Saudi Agenda
    TRNN Replay: Investigating the Saudi Government's 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disilliusionment - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 1
    The Iraq War's Real Legacy
    Petitions with 100,000+ Signatures Call for Snowden's Passport to be Reinstated
    We Need to Harness People Power - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
    BC Pipeline Fight and Quebec Elections - The Canada Panel
    Jonathan Schell - 1943-2014: Board Member of TRNN on Why We Need The Real News
    Teachers on Strike from the UK to Argentina
    Connecticut Poised to Become First State with $10.10 Minimum Wage
    Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife and Local Economy
    DC School Test Scores Up, But Poor Black Kids Are Doing Worse - Andy Shallal on RAI (3/4)
    Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
    How Google, Apple & The Biggest Tech Companies Colluded to Fix Workers' Wages
    An American Should be One that Questions Their Government - Andy Shallal on RAI (2/4)
    What's Driving Putin & Obama's Posturing on Ukraine?
    Hundreds of Students & Faculty Occupy College Campus to Fight Cuts to Public Higher Ed
    Due Process 'Impossible' In Harsh Death Sentencing Of Over 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members
    Has Anglo-American Capitalism Run Out of Steam?
    Being the "Other" in America - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (1/4)
    TRNN Debate: Should Baltimore 'Ban The Box'?
    How Fallujah Became the Iraqi Government's New Battleground
    Why I Decided to Blow the Whistle on the NSA
    NASA Climate Predictions Show Serious Threat To Humanity
    Professor Who Teaches Israel-Palestine Conflict Accuses College of Violating His Academic Freedom
    CIA and NSA Wrongdoing Requires Independent Investigation, Says Former Church Committee Staff
    Are Tuition Breaks Enough To Combat High Student Debt And Low Graduation Rates?
    Industries Across the U.S. Are Stealing Wages From Their Lowest Paid Workers
    Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?
    NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (2/2)
    BP Gets Green Light to Drill in Gulf, But Has Safety Improved?
    Residents Still Not Drinking Tap Water Two Months After West Virginia Spill (1/2)
    Libya's Descent Into Turmoil Three Years After NATO Intervention
    From Pipelines to Peladeau - Canadian Report
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (1/2)
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Strikes Back Against Austerity
    Libya Three Years Later - Chaos and Partition
    Why Was Gaddafi Overthrown?
    Should Ukraine and West Accept De Facto Crimea Joining Russia? (2/2)
    Tony Benn Saw Socialism as the Culmination of Democratization
    Why Didn't Bush/Cheney Attack Iran and Can Obama Make and Sell a Deal? - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (3/3)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi? (2/2)
    Crimea Referendum: Self Determination or Big Power Manipulation? (1/2)
    Sen. Graham: President Must Side with Openness About CIA and 9/11
    Manufacturing a Narrative for War - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (2/3)
    Protesters Hit the Streets of Brooklyn to Demand $15 Minimum Wage
    Hammer: 'Moral Bankruptcy' Behind Massive GM Recall
    White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA Probe
    I Grew Up Believing in Time Magazine's Version of America - Gareth Porter on RAI (1/3)
    Western European Banks Vulnerable to Ukrainian Sovereign Debt Crisis
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (2/2)
    CIA vs. Senate: Who Is Obama Protecting?
    Will Tipped Workers Get Excluded Again From Minimum Wage Hike?
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (1/2)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi?(1/2)
    TRNN Replay: A Look at Who's Poised to Become No.2 at the Fed
    How Right-Wing Nationalism Rose to Influence in Ukraine (2/2)
    Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase
    Moving Towards a Police State - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (7/7)
    Fighting Reagan's Secret, Illegal Wars - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (6/7)
    Puerto Rican Independence Movement and Cuba Further Radicalized Me - Michael Ratner on RAI (5/7)
    The Butcher of Attica - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (4/7)
    MLK and a Radicalizing Moment in American History - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (3/7)

    RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting