Greater China and Japan: Prospects for an Economic Partnership in East Asia

Greater China and Japan: Prospects for an Economic Partnership in East Asia

Greater China and Japan: Prospects for an Economic Partnership in East Asia

Greater China and Japan: Prospects for an Economic Partnership in East Asia

Synopsis

Robert Taylor explores the ambiguous relationship between these regions and shows that its development is crucial to the future of Asia in the 21st century. The study also examines the growing momentum towards sub-regional integration.

Excerpt

Contemporary relations between China and Japan have been conditioned by the responses of the two nations both to the military, economic and cultural impact of the West since the mid-nineteenth century and to the great-power rivalries of the cold war years. China and Japan each responded differently to the Western challenge. Historically, Japan was more predisposed than China to meet that challenge effectively. It had a tradition of cultural borrowing and took over the Chinese written language and Confucian social status system, even though with modifications, while the socioeconomic changes that occurred in Japan immediately prior to the Western impact were similar to those which had been present in early modern Europe and which had facilitated the industrial revolution.

Thus the Japanese were more receptive to adopting the technology and firepower necessary to resist the Western powers on their own terms; infringements of sovereignty like the loss of tariff autonomy were short-lived and the achievement of a high rate of literacy through universal education, as well as conscription, forged national unity, as did a modern, though authoritarian, political system, with the Emperor as the focus of loyalty. So successful were such modernisation policies that by the early years of the twentieth century Japan had become a major industrial power and, lacking raw material resources, had embarked on a series of colonial conquests in China, rivalling the Western powers. Ultimately, defeat in the Pacific War ended Japan’s aggression in China, leaving a legacy of bitterness which still informs China’s ambivalent attitude towards economic cooperation with the Japanese.

In spite of wartime devastation, pre-war infrastructure provided the foundations for Japan’s post-war recovery and ascent to economic superpower status.

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