China’s Asian Relations

China's Asian Trade


CORRECTION: The previous version of this image, seen below, confused East Timor (yellow) with Indonesian-controlled West Timor (orange).

China's Asian Relations

This image demonstrates China’s economic importance to the Asia-Pacific. China does more international trade than any other country on the face of the earth. China’s exports – as well as its growing demand for resources, food, and consumer goods – are transforming the economic landscape of the Asian continent.

Also of note: China is the most important trading partner to Japan, Vietnam, and India, even in the midst of their territorial disputes.


December 8, 2013 · 1:14 pm

Biden avoids publicly discussing China’s ADIZ in Beijing

Vice President Biden has not publicly discussed China’s recently-established Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) during his trip to Beijing. While in Tokyo, Biden was more stringent, calling the ADIZ an effort to “unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea”, and warning, “This action has raised regional tensions and increased the risk of accidents and miscalculation.”

However, once in China Biden’s tone became rather conciliatory. Talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping focused on areas of mutual interest, although important disagreements were brought up. Biden said “Candor generates trust” and Sino-American relations should be “based on trust and a positive notion of each other’s motives”. Vice President Biden also met with American journalists in Beijing, were he stressed the need for freedom of information:

“Innovation thrives where people breathe freely, speak freely, are able to challenge orthodoxy, where newspapers can report the truth without fear of consequences…We have many disagreements, and some profound disagreements, on some of those issues right now, in the treatment of U.S. journalists.”

In recent months several prominent American journalists have lost their legal rights to report from China. Biden’s call for people to “breathe freely” has somewhat humorous undertones, given the severe air pollution of Beijing.

Meanwhile, official Chinese media coverage of Biden’s visit is somewhat contradictory. A piece in People’s Daily says Biden and Xi had frank talks about disagreements over the ADIZ, while another article is entitled “Why Didn’t Biden Challenge Xi Jinping?”

Also of note: just before Biden’s visit, a spokesperson for China’s Defense Ministry made a lengthy clarification of the new ADIZ, saying  it “will not affect the freedom of overflight, based on international laws, of other countries’ aircraft”. Along with these reassuring words was a rather confident assertion of power to regional rivals and the United States: “The Chinese military’s determination and volition to safeguard the security of national territory and territorial airspace are unwavering, and the military is fully capable of exercising effective control over the East China Sea ADIZ.

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Beijing’s Cairo Declaration

Beijing has used the 70th anniversary of the Cairo Declaration to reiterate its territorial claims over the Diaoyu Islands – and Taiwan.

The Cairo Declaration – jointly made on December 1, 1943 by wartime allies Churchill, Roosevelt, and Nationalist China’s Chiang Kai-shek – stated, in part:

“The Three Great Allies are fighting this war to restrain and punish the aggression of Japan. They covet no gain for themselves and have no thought of territorial expansion. It is their purpose that Japan shall be stripped of all the islands in the Pacific which she has seized or occupied since the beginning of the first World War in 1914, and that all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa, and The Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China. Japan will also be expelled from all other territories which she has taken by violence and greed.”

China’s ambassador to Egypt has stressed that the document assures Beijing’s sovereignty over all territories seized by Japan before and during World War Two. Furthermore, a symposium has held in Beijing’s Anti-Japanese War Memorial to discuss the Cairo Declaration and its implications.

The front page of People’s Daily carried an article entitled, simply enough, “Cairo Declaration proves the Diaoyu Islands belong to China”.  

Also of note, the leader of the “Other China” – the Republic of China in Taiwan – mirrored Beijing by hosting the Cairo Declaration 70th Anniversary Exhibition and International Symposium” yesterday in Taipei. President Ma called the defeat of Japan the most important historical event for the Chinese people.

The twin symposiums demonstrate an interesting parallel in both Taiwan and Mainland China. While Taipei and Beijing remain rivals in many respects, they can be united over nationalistic feelings – especially against Japan.

Beijing has long used arguments based on international law to advance its claims over Taiwan and the Diaoyu (Senkaku) Islands. See, for example, Li makes his Potsdam Declaration. These legal arguments are important, especially since they are now coupled with strategic and military moves. China’s recently-announced Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) covers the Diaoyu Islands, which are currently controlled by Japan.



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