Holding a banner of welcome, Chinese navy personnel greet the Japanese destroyer Sazanami in a welcoming ceremony as the Japanese warship docks at the naval port in Zhanjiang, Quangdong Province, on June 24, 2008.
"China, Japan Beating Swords Into Plowshares"
Op-Ed, The Korea Times
July 20, 2008
Author: Shacheng Wang, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2007-2008
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security
A Japanese destroyer named Sazanami sailed into a Chinese port on June 24 in the first port call by one of Japan's warships to China since World War II.
In this historic event, what part does the warship play? Is it a deterrent, a tool of communication, or a messenger of peace?
It is not a deterrent. During the postwar years, Japan has actively engaged in peace-building, education, and science and technology. It has made brilliant achievements.
For this progress, Japan has gained wide respect from the international community. In line with its officially pacifist constitution, Japan maintains a ``maritime self-defense force'' rather than a navy.
The warship's five-day visit is very low-key. As proposed relief flights to the quake zone in Sichuan province in China by Japanese military aircraft were ruled out by Chinese people in May, Japan is considering the possible reaction of the Chinese people more and more.
The Japanese media has not focused attention on this visit, and the warship arrived loaded with disaster-relief goods including food, blankets, hygiene masks, disinfectants and other items for the Sichuan quake areas.
It is a tool of communication. Nowadays, the warships are not simply the instruments of war and sometimes are the information-exchanging platforms between countries. China's welcome for the destroyer demonstrates her genuine desire for this communication.
The relationship between Japan and China is delicate. Apart from Japan's conquest and occupation of China between 1931 and 1945 and the Nanjing Massacre in December 1937, a Taiwan fishing boat with 16 crew and deep-sea anglers aboard, sank off the Diaoyu islands in a collision with a Japanese frigate this June.
For the mutual benefit of China and Japan, it is essential to build a "very high degree of trust'' between them.
Past experience, if not forgotten, is a guide for the future. The two countries can draw lessons from history and collaborate on further developments. Of course, civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof.
As China's comprehensive national strength has increased and livelihoods have continued to improve in the past 30 years, China now dares to accept new challenges. By welcoming the visiting worship, the Chinese are signaling that they are more confident than ever.
It is a messenger of peace. China and Japan should inherit and carry forward the historic tradition of a friendship that has existed since ancient times. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the China-Japan Peace and Friendship Treaty and has been a year of friendly exchanges for the youth of the two countries.
"Our China visit will not only help us build trust between Japan and China, but also peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. We'll do our utmost to boost our friendship,'' Rear Adm. Shinichi Tokumaru said in a televised departure ceremony at the destroyer's home port of Kure in southern Japan.
"We hope to work together with our Japanese counterparts, sow the seeds of friendship, deliver a message of peace, and make due contribution to the friendliness between the two nations for generations to come," said Lieutenant General Su Shiliang, commander of China's South Sea Fleet.
The visit means China and Japan will start a new page of cooperation and will promote a strategic, mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests in the 21st Century.
As both countries work toward world peace, progress, and international cooperation, they should resolve to achieve the noble objectives of peaceful coexistence, friendship for generations, mutually beneficial cooperation, and common development for their two nations.
China and Japan now have more in common. Energy security, environmental protection, poverty, contagious diseases, and other global issues are common challenges that the two countries face.
The first step is always the hardest and also the most important. China and Japan have begun to beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.
Wang Shacheng is a research fellow at the Belfer Center's International Security Program at Harvard Kennedy School and a Ph.D. candidate in intelligence at the Department of Information Management at Peking University. He can be reached at email@example.com or Wang_Shacheng@ksg.harvard.edu.
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