DIIS Reports / Danish Institute for International Studies 2011:01
The Sino-Japanese relationship is a highly complex one, marked both by Japan's aggressive wars from the 1930s on and the present economic interdependence between the two countries. Focusing on the role of the territorial conflict in the East China Sea, this DIIS Report considers how China's leaders handle anti-Japanese nationalism by adopting a Janusian stance and pursuing both China's basic interest in close economic relations with Japan and also domestic stability. After a review of Chinese and Japanese sovereignty claims in the area and of the rise of nationalism since the early 1980s, four crises over the East China Sea are examined to identify the character of and changes in China's policy. For the last ten years China's leaders have attempted to conduct a more pragmatic policy towards Japan and evade the pernicious shadow of history. But this policy faces critical problems both in a growing popular nationalism in China and in the Japanese government's lack of willingness to restrain their own nationalists and the absence of legal possibilities for them to do so.