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  • The framework of the countries around the Japan Sea – Pulling out of the Cold War and the movement of China –

The framework of the countries around the Japan Sea – Pulling out of the Cold War and the movement of China –


Nobody anticipated that the post-Cold War framework of the countries around the Japan Sea would change so dramatically at such an astonishing speed as it has in the last few months. The transition originated from the summit in the Korean Peninsula between the leaders of North and South Korea from July 13th – 14th. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s first visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (the DPRK) from November 22nd to 24th, and her two days of meetings with its leader, Mr. Kim Jong Il, from November 23rd to 24th, have pushed the two countries towards reconciliation remarkably and laid the groundwork for a visit by Mr. Clinton.

Moreover, the Third Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) was held in Seoul from October 19th – 21st, where the leaders of 25 countries assembled. It was one of the few international summit conferences which Japan has attended without the presence of a US representative.

Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji participated in the ASEM summit after visiting Japan from October 12th – 17th. He had talks with South Korean President Kim Dae Jung and launched the expansion and reinforcement of bilateral ties between the two countries. They agreed to enlarge their cooperative ties from economic sectors such as trade and investment into “all sectors”, including the military sector, such as Chinese and South Korean military vessels exchangeing port calls. The agreement is another sign that South Korea and China will enhance joint efforts to maintain peace and stability and settle the issue of influence on the Korean Peninsula.

As soon as he returned to Beijin, Premier Zhu Rongji hosted the second China-EU Commercial Dialogue (the Economic Summit Meeting) on October 23. It is reported that nearly 400 enterprisers from China and the EU participated and discussed cooperation in the Information Technology (IT) industry and supporting China’s bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). China demonstrated its preparations in terms of opening the “insurance” market and ratifying the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which is a companion of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Consequently, the country has succeeded in obtaining the support of the EU in its long-running attempt to become a member of the WTO.

Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan has already released “Foreign Minister’s Talk” to the press in the foreign edition of the People’s Daily on October 23, and has talked about Premier Zhu Rongji’s remarkable diplomacy. He evaluated that the visits to Japan and the KOR were “important diplomacy” and that the ASEM was “practical, favorable and successful”.

What does Japan think about the Chinese diplomacy? So far as I can see from the tone of mass communication, they don’t look on Premier Zhu Rongji’s visit to Japan as a part of the developing diplomacy around the Japan Sea bloc. They regard it merely as bilateral foreign policy. If they understand the situation in those terms, it must be impossible for them to view the whole framework of the diplomacy among the interested countries that has developed intensively for months in the Korean Peninsula.

China announced the 10th Five-year Plan for National Economic and Social Development for the 21st century, which was adopted at the Communist Party of China’s Fifth Plenary Session of the 15th Central Committee on October 11. It sets the goal as doubling the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2010, as compared to that of 2000, and indicates the new situation after China enters the WTO. Meanwhile, the People’s Bank of China, the central bank, has implemented a revised administrative system for the interest rates of foreign currencies since September, so that the lending rate of foreign currencies has been liberalized. We have to keep our eyes on the two movements. I hope that ERINA considers these movements from a general viewpoint with an independent, critical mind and penetrating eyes, so that it can release the results inside and outside the institution.

[Translated by ERINA]