June Teufel Dreyer
June Teufel Dreyer is Professor of Political Science at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, where she teaches courses on China, U.S. defense policy, and international relations. Professor Dreyer has lectured to, and taught a course for, National Security Agency analysts, consults for organizations including the National Geographic and Centra Technology. She is a senior fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute and a member of International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Formerly senior Far East specialist at the Library of Congress, Dr. Dreyer has also served as Asia policy advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations and as commissioner of the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission established by the U.S. Congress. Dr Dreyer’s most recent book, Middle Kingdom and Empire of the Rising Sun: Sino-Japanese Relations Past and Present, was published by Oxford University Press in 2016. The tenth edition of her China’s Political System: Modernization and Tradition, is scheduled for publication in 2018. Professor Dreyer received her BA from Wellesley College and her MA and PhD from Harvard, and has lived in China and Japan and paid numerous visits to Taiwan. She has served as a United States Information Agency lecturer, speaking in fourteen Asia-Pacific states. Professor Dreyer has published widely on the Chinese military, Asian-Pacific security issues, China-Taiwan relations, Sino-Japanese relations, ethnic minorities in China, and Chinese foreign policy. In 2017, she received the University of Miami’s faculty senate award as Distinguished Research Professor.
Middle Kingdom and Empire of the Rising Sun: Sino-Japanese Relations Past and Present. Oxford University Press, 2016
Articles by June Teufel Dreyer
China and Japan continued to vie over a wide variety of issues including economic competitiveness, jurisdiction over territorial waters, World War II responsibilities, representation in international organizations, and even Olympic and Paralympic medals. The Japanese government expressed concern with the increasingly obvious presence of Chinese ships and planes in and around areas under its jurisdiction, with Chinese sources accusing Japan of a Cold War mentality. Nothing was heard of Xi Jinping’s long-planned and often postponed official visit to Tokyo. Also, Chinese admonitions that Japan recognize that its best interests lay not with a declining United States but in joining forces with a rising China were conspicuous by their absence.
After several years of seeking to counter each other while insisting that their relations were at a recent best, Tokyo and Beijing became overtly contentious. A major event of the reporting period was China’s passage, and subsequent enforcement, of a law empowering its coast guard to take action, including through the use of force, to defend China’s self-proclaimed sovereignty over the Japanese administered Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. Heretofore reluctant to criticize Beijing over its actions in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu finally did so in April, and pledged to work with the United States to resolve China-Taiwan tensions. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned that a continuation of such moves would cause Chinese-Japanese ties to hit bottom and threatened retaliation for any interference on Taiwan. No more was heard about a long-postponed Xi Jinping visit to Japan.
Perhaps the biggest news of the last third of 2020 was that Xi Jinping’s often-postponed state visit to Japan will not take place in spring 2021 and may be postponed to September 2022, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan diplomatic relations. Both countries’ economies recovered well from the pandemic, with robust trade between them even as they continued to snipe at each other politically and upgrade their military capabilities. China continued to expand its presence in waters of the East China Sea claimed by Japan.
Major concern in this period centered around the future of Sino-Japanese relations in the post-Abe era, with most analysts predicting that there would be little change. China’s impressive, though credit-fueled, rebound from the coronavirus pandemic as Japan’s economy sharply contracted indicates that Tokyo will seek to maximize trade with the PRC.
Xi Jinping’s long-awaited state visit to Japan is on indefinite hold, with concern for the pandemic a convenient explanation for underlying multiparty opposition due to Beijing’s assertive actions in contested areas and its repressive measures in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. Differences of opinion remain on the wording of a so-called 4th Sino-Japanese Communique that is much desired by Beijing.
Politically, the major news in Japan-China relations was that Xi Jinping’s long-anticipated state visit was postponed. While the coronavirus was a factor, the two sides had also been unable to agree on the text of the Fourth Communiqué, and there was considerable opposition within Japan to the visit due to issues between them. Several major Japanese companies announced major investments in the People’s Republic of China, even as the Japanese government agreed to subsidize companies to move their supply chains out of the country.
As Tokyo continued to press unsuccessfully for a date on Xi Jinping’s state visit to Japan, frictions continued on matters such as the number of Japanese nationals detained in China, human rights concerns involving Xinjiang and Hong Kong, and Japan’s tentative reaction to participation in both the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Belt and its Road Initiative. Trade relations remained strong despite declining economic growth in China and near stagnation in Japan, with both sides continuing to enhance their defense capabilities.
Chinese and Japanese relations have been cordial during the summer months, but tensions over history, economics, disputed territories, and military expansion continue to simmer. Several meetings failed to reach consensus on issues. China continued to tighten its de facto control over disputed territories as Japan reinforced its capabilities to defend those areas. Several major Japanese corporations announced plans to move production out of China, citing concerns with the US-China trade war. Worsening relations between Seoul and Tokyo, and in particular Seoul’s decision to end an intelligence-sharing agreement, could weaken plans for joint resistance to Chinese and North Korean activities. No date has been set for Chairman Xi Jinping’s long-delayed reciprocal state visit to Japan.
Sino-Japanese interactions were less prominent in the early months of 2019, with the Chinese government focused on its Belt and Road Forum and the Japanese with the imperial abdication. Although President Xi Jinping has committed to attending the G20 Summit in Osaka in late June, no date has been set for a state visit to reciprocate Prime Minister Abe’s fall 2018 visit to Beijing. There is speculation that the Chinese are seeking prior commitment to a fifth communiqué, which would be controversial in Japan. The generally cordial atmospherics of lower-level talks belied tensions over territorial disputes, intellectual property rights, and cybersecurity.
Prime Minister Abe’s long coveted visit to Beijing gave the appearance of better China-Japan relations, although Chinese President Xi Jinping has yet to confirm a date for the expected reciprocal visit. Trade ties were strong, with Japanese firms taking tentative steps toward participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). As China’s GDP growth slowed, Japan’s showed modest gains. Instances of economic rivalry in Southeast Asia and Africa continued even as both affirmed the need for cooperation. Each side expressed alarm at the other’s robust defense preparations, amid numerous, though somewhat diminished in numbers, complaints from Japan about incursions into its territorial waters and airspace. Tokyo continued to court countries that share its concerns about Chinese expansion.
Government-to-government relations were cordial over the summer, with the public expression of differences minimized to emphasize their common opposition to US protectionist trade policies. Bilateral trade and tourism posted impressive gains. Both leaders seemed likely to continue in office, though China’s annual Beidaihe meeting of power brokers allegedly criticized the disappointing results of President Xi Jinping’s economic restructuring program, his aggressive foreign policies, and the excesses of his cult of personality. Unimpressive popularity polls notwithstanding, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō had solid support for re-election as president of the Liberal Democratic Party and is therefore likely to win a third consecutive term as prime minister. Abe remained optimistic about receiving an invitation for a state visit to Beijing. However, Japan continued to complain about China’s military expansion and to strengthen its defenses. Summing up China-Japan relations 40 years after normalization, the Yomiuri Shimbun noted that coolness persisted despite bilateral exchanges of people and money.
Chinese President Xi Jinping successfully presided over the Boao Forum indicating progress toward establishing China as the fulcrum of the international trading system. Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzō’s political future was clouded by the Moritomo Gakuen scandal. Formal high-level dialogue between Beijing and Tokyo, interrupted since September 2010 was cautiously reinstated in April. In the same month, lower-level military exchanges resumed after a six-year hiatus. Despite talk of resetting relations, there was no resolution of key issues such as the disposition of disputed islands in the East China Sea or of present-day Japanese responsibility for the country’s conduct during World War II. As for trade, although both China and Japan are committed in theory to early conclusion of the Regional Economic Cooperation Partnership agreement, Japan favors a deal closer to the Trans-Pacific Partnership while China wants additional concessions to support its economic reform goals. Nonetheless, China hopes to obtain Japanese participation in its Belt and Road Initiative.
As China’s President Xi Jinping entertained national leaders in Beijing, Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzō made appearances at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly and the New York Stock Exchange, and authored an op-ed in The New York Times. Abe’s common theme was denunciation of North Korea’s provocative behavior, adding that China must play a greater role in curbing its activities. Abe also indicated Japan would consider supporting companies that participated in the Belt and Road Initiative and partner with China in underwriting aid to African countries, while hinting strongly that he would like an invitation for a state visit. China is holding fast to its conditions for a formal meeting: Japan must agree there is a dispute over Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands ownership and show that it has come to terms with its misconduct during World War II. At yearend, Beijing’s Global Times asserted that bilateral ties had broken out of their slump while Japanese papers reported a senior LDP official as stating the two sides had pushed their relations to a new state, enabling them to discuss the future.
The pattern of warm trade and cold politics continued over the summer of 2017. No discernible progress was made in resolving issues between Japan and China. Leadership interaction was limited, while economic relations showed some signs of improving and tensions in the East China Sea dominated defense activity. At the end of September, the government-sponsored China Daily opined that it was “no exaggeration to say that the past five years have been among the darkest days in Sino-Japanese ties since the two established formal diplomatic ties.”
Though free of the large-scale anti-Japanese demonstrations and acerbic exchanges that have characterized the recent past, the cold peace between China and Japan continued in the early months of 2017. There were no meetings of high-level officials, and none were scheduled. Mutual irritants continued on familiar topics: defense and territorial issues, Taiwan, trade and tourism, and textbooks and history.