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Chinese President Hu Jintao plays table tennis with Japanese teenage player Ai Fukuhara.

China and Japan Try to Repair Relations During Hu Visit

May 08, 2008 12:21 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
by Josh Katz
Chinese President Hu Jintao is visiting Japan May 6–10, the first time a Chinese president has made the trip in a decade.

30-Second Summary

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Hu is only the second Chinese head of state to ever visit Japan, and the two nations have a long history of tense relations. Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda visited China last fall in an effort to mend the relationship, and Hu is now responding in kind.

When Hu became President in 2002, he sought closer relations with Japan, but Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi pursued a “nationalistic agenda,” according to Wenran Jiang in The Guardian, pushing China away. Japanese Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe and Yasuo Fukuda, who followed Koizumi, have moved closer to China.

Relations between the two nations are still somewhat chilly. China and Japan are engaged in a conflict over the disputed ownership of islands in the East China Sea, potentially rich in oil and gas.

Japan has been wary of Chinese products after 10 people came down with food poisoning in January, allegedly from Chinese dumplings. China also continues to be aggravated by Japan’s attitude toward its wartime record.

But trade between the two countries is now closely linked, even though Japan and China continue to be circumspect of one another: Michael Auslin calls it a “balancing act,” in the International Herald Tribune.

On Hu’s visit, China has offered two pandas to Japan, and even engaged in a form of pingpong diplomacy.

Adding to the tension of Hu’s visit is the international uproar over China’s treatment of Tibet and the troubled journey of the Olympic torch. Protests have followed Hu to Japan.

Headline Link: ‘Hu, Visiting Japan, Vows China Won’t Spark Arms Race’

Background: Hu’s trip to Japan

Historical Context: China–Japan relations

Opinion & Analysis: The significance of Hu’s visit

Relatic Topic: Olympic torch greeted with protests

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