Mon, September 20, 2010
China > China & World > China-Japan ship collision row

Illegal detention of Chinese trawler's captain harms Chinese public's trust in Japan

2010-09-20 14:24:42 GMT2010-09-20 22:24:42 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BEIJING, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- Observers of Sino-Japanese relations said Monday the prolonged detention of a Chinese trawler captain "severely harms" Chinese people's trust in Japan and undermines the "sound interactions" the two countries have achieved in recent years.

China has already adopted a series of countermeasures and "follow-up" measures are possible, experts said, warning that Japan should seriously consider the possible consequences of the continued detention of the skipper.

Zhao Lei, associate professor at the Party School of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, told Xinhua Japan, China's important neighbor and a leading power, is doing something that damages the strategic mutual trust that was gradually building up between the two nations.

Japan has "shifted its strategic focus to Asia" and its future development needs China's support, Zhao said, adding that the incident will harm Japan's own interests and "do no good" for its long-term development.

"Trust between the two nations should be based on Japan's respect for China's core interests," he said.

Dr. Xu Jin from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), a key government think tank, said Japan applying its domestic laws to the incident in the sea area around the Diaoyu Islands "not only severely infringes Chinese sovereignty but also reduces the Chinese public's trust in Japan."

Zhang Zhirong, associate professor of the Institute of International Relations at Peking University, said the incident reflects Japan's lack of respect for human rights.

"The skipper's grandmother died from shock upon learning of the detention. The traditional mid-autumn festival, a time for family reunion, is approaching but the skipper cannot come home," he said, adding that it was "extremely inhumane" for Japan to act in such a way with its "hidden political motives."

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Guangya made solemn representations to the Japanese ambassador to China Sunday evening, expressing China's deep indignation and protesting Japan's prolonged detention of the Chinese skipper, Zhan Qixiong.

Wang warned China will take countermeasures if the Japanese side fails to release the Chinese captain immediately and unconditionally, adding that how the situation develops depends completely on the choices the Japanese side makes.

"Japan shall suffer all the consequences that arise," he noted.

Two Japan Coast Guard patrol ships and the Chinese fishing boat collided in waters off the Diaoyu Islands on Sept. 7. The Japanese side illegally seized the Chinese trawler and fishermen and continues to illegally hold the Chinese captain, despite China's protestations.

China had already suspended bilateral exchanges at and above the provincial and ministerial level. It has also suspended talks on increasing civilian flights between the two nations.

Such countermeasures are "unprecedented" in the 38 years since the two nations normalized diplomatic relations in September 1972, said Gao Hong, vice director of the CASS's Institute of Japanese Studies.

Gao said economic cooperation between the two countries is also being affected as political relations deteriorate.

A bilateral meeting on coal has also been postponed and the number of Chinese tourists visiting Japan has plunged, the ministry said.

The planned "10,000-Member Tour Group to Japan" initiated by a Beijing-based company has been canceled and some Hong Kong residents have also called for reducing the number of trips to Japan.

"If the Japanese government does not take action, more Chinese will agree to canceling their trips to Japan," Gao said.

After the Democratic Party of Japan formed government in Japan in 2009, the government planned to increase the number of Chinese tourists visiting Japan from 1.01 million people in 2009 to 6 million in 2016, he said.

Currently, each Chinese tourist spends an average 10,000 yuan (1,470.6 U.S. dollars) in Japan, and Chinese tourists will spend about 60 billion yuan each year in Japan until 2016, he predicts.

But Gao said under the current circumstances, Chinese tourists may not gift Japan such an amount.

Prof. Zheng Yongnian, director of the East Asia Institute at the National University of Singapore, said what Japan has done is pandering to some of its domestic nationalists, which "does no good" to Japan's long-term interests.

Zheng said Japan's economic recovery can not be achieved without China, adding that China has been running a trade deficit with Japan.

He suggested China mobilize those in Japan who have benefited from Sino-Japanese trade to serve the development of Sino-Japanese relations.

Zhao from the Party School of the CPC Central Committee said trust between nations should be built on "sound interactions."

"Japan should do more to ease the tension between the two countries, so as to make up for the harm it has inflicted on China over history," he said.

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