ABOUT THE SEMINAR
China and Japan have taken some positives steps toward improving their traditionally frosty bilateral relationship over the last few months. In October 2015 China, Japan and South Korea held their first three-way summit since 2012 where they agreed to accelerate talks for a trilateral free-trade agreement and to bolster cultural exchanges. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stressed the importance of developing an amicable and stable relationship between the two countries. However, thorns in the relationship remain. Tensions continue over contested sovereignty claims in the East China Sea where three Chinese ships recently sailed within the 12-mile exclusion zone of Islands which Japan has claimed. The question for 2016 is whether Beijing and Tokyo will be able to use recent improvements in their bilateral relationship to manage their stress points and effect an overall thaw or if military skirmishes and contested claims will derail the Sino-Japanese relationship.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS
Jia Qingguo is Dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University. Professor Jia is a member of the Standing Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and a member of the Standing Committee of the Central Committee of the China Democratic League. He is also Executive Director of the Institute for China-US People-to-People Exchange of the Ministry of Education, Vice President of the Chinese American Studies Association and Vice President of Chinese Japanese Studies Association.
Masashi Nishihara is an expert on Japanese foreign and security policy, and a key policy advisor to the Japanese government. Dr Nishihara is President, Research Institute for Peace and Security, based in Tokyo. In 1986-1995, he served on the Council of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), London. In 2001-2004, he was a member of Prime Minister Jun’ichiro Koizumi’s Task Force on External Relations. He was a member of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s consultative committee on the establishment of a national security council in 2013.
In Spring 2015, he served on Prime Minister Abe’s committee advising on the commemorative statement for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. He currently chairs Minister Eriko Yamanaka’s consultative committee on territorial sovereignty.
Less than four years after Mao Zedong’s death, Deng Xiaoping declared that China needed to move away from an “over-concentration of power” by an individual leader to establish a more institutionalized system of governance. Xi Jinping’s ascension to power in 2013 promised a new era of reform of the Communist Party of China (CCP), specifically intended to preserve the party’s power. Rather than addressing governance issues, however, Xi’s actions, such as the anti-corruption campaign, have served to concentrate power in his hands, showing the weakness of political institutionalization in China after decades of collective leadership. While decision-making processes continue to be a black box, by reclaiming the CCP’s authority over policy-making, and by chairing CCP small leading groups, Xi appears to have moved China back to Mao-style authoritarian rule. The puzzles that remain are how personalistic authoritarian rule has returned to a country characterized by a growing middle class and a modern open market economy; and what this reversion to personalistic leadership tells us about the ambiguities of institutionalization in communist ruling parties.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Susan Shirk is the Chair of the 21st Century China Program, and Research Professor at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California, San Diego. Professor Shirk is also Director Emeritus of the University of California’s Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC). Professor Shirk is a globally-esteemed expert on US-China relations and Chinese politics.