Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

China -the Emerging Superpower, and Japan's Future Course
FUJINO Fumiaki / Advisor, Itochu Corporation

December 16, 2002
There is a famous poem titled "Climbing the Stork Pavilion" by Wang Chih-huan, a poet of the Tang Dynasty. In English translation, it reads thus: "White sunlight disappears from the hillside,/ Yellow River flows on into the sea./ Desiring to scan the thousand-mile vista/ I climb another storey of the pagoda." The 16th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party has ended. How should we view the outcome?

My assessment is that China has "climbed to a greater height" towards the 21st century. The national leadership has almost completely been transferred to the next generation. This is the so-called ‘Fourth Generation’ that has descended from the Mao Zedong-Deng Xiao Ping-Jiang Zemin line. Having succeeded the Reform and Open Policy of Deng Xiao Ping, the Third Generation led by Jiang Zemin has accomplished much, realizing the return of Hong Kong and Macao, gaining membership to the World Trade Organization in 2001, holding the Asia-Pacific Economic Organization in Shanghai and bringing the 2008 Olympics to Beijing, thus elevating China to the global stage before handing over the reins to the Fourth Generation. Their achievement is worthy of high acclaim.

The Fourth Generation led by Hu Jintao is a generation that has no first-hand experience of the Revolutionary War - a highly educated group of men who are suited for the job of setting forth into the new world of the 21st century. It is also notable that the political system centered on the Communist Party is moving in the direction of reform. The new, rejuvenated Party has taken a step towards reform by offering membership to private entrepreneurs. This marks a major turning-point for the Communist Party, which has been characterized as a dictatorship by a political party for the proletariat, and to ensure that it takes root without hitch, Jiang Zemin will remain in his post of Central Military Commission chairman. The decision is aimed at realizing a smooth transition, and shouldn't be viewed as his obsession with power. He is likely to hand the post over to the younger generation in a year or two.

The Fourth Generation will endeavor to create a well-balanced and stable society – a "Well-off Society" – towards the goal of building China into a modern superpower. To that end, they will proceed with the full-fledged development of western regions that have lagged behind, and concurrently promote structural reform of the rural regions and urbanization on a nationwide scale. Once they succeed in transforming China - a country with a 1.3 billion population - into a modern, "well-off" society, it won't be long until China emerges as a superpower comparable to America as a continental nation. Bolstered by enormous domestic demand, it shouldn't be difficult for its economy to maintain an annual growth rate of 7%.

In the event, China will come forward with its traditional value system, initiating a new tide within the global order. The rise of Chinese civilization, strongly colored by Confucian values, will set the world on course towards a coexistence of different values. Thus a new post-Cold War order will begin to take shape early on in the 21st century. Asia is likely to cluster around China, resulting in a tri-polar world comprising America, Asia and Europe - including Russia, and China is expected to exert an overwhelming presence.

What course should Japan take? Will it position itself as a member of Asia, champion Western values, or seek yet another, independent course of its own? As China rises to prominence, where will Japan and the Japanese people find their identity? For the first time since World War II, we will be forced to choose. The choice will be a difficult one to make, but we should start by seeking an honest exchange of views with our neighbor China, the rising superpower. Our first task should be to develop a dialogue, instead of engaging in narrow-minded rivalries such as that over the signing of Free Trade Agreements with ASEAN nations. Now is the time for the Japanese to demonstrate such magnanimity.

The writer is Advisor and General Manager of the Institute of China Studies, Itochu Corporation.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

藤野 文晤 / 伊藤忠商事株式会社顧問・中国研究所長

2002年 12月 16日






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English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > China -the Emerging Superpower, and Japan's Future Course