China-Japan People to people Diplomacy

China-Japan Relations

The way international relations being conducted are when national leaders, government officials and diplomats interact each other. The power of citizen to be a part of the diplomatic talks has always been underestimated. However it has been transforming in recent years when citizens has been slowly being heard by diplomats and high level officials. This method has been complimentary with the traditional and formal diplomacy. It has a significant impact on relations between nations since bilateral relations are not sustainable without solid public support. It is well-known that the “Ping-Pong diplomacy” of 1971 helped pave the way for President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China the following year. Less talked about is the indirect role Japan played in the process. Both Chinese and American Ping-Pong players were attending the 31st World Table Tennis Championship in Nagoya, Japan at the time. When American player Glenn Cowan missed him team’s bus, he was invited to ride with the Chinese players. His conversation and gift exchanges with Chinese player Zhuang Zedong are today household stories. The Ping-Pong diplomacy that began in Japan led to the normalization of U.S.-China relations.


Improving China and Japan

The tense political relations between China and Japan has focused the attention on national leaders and how their relationship had been greatly changed. Many blamed the political move of Shinzo Abe to revise historical narratives or President Xi Jinping’s tough style and assertive diplomacy for the deterioration of bilateral relations. The recent diplomatic talks only focused on high level officials and disregarded the influence of people in making diplomacy. China used to be a top destination for Japanese tourists and numerous Japanese companies set up businesses in China. Despite political tensions, Chinese tourists continue to flock to Japan. In 2014, 2.4 million mainland Chinese visited Japan, slightly fewer than the 2.8 million from Taiwan and 2.7 million from South Korea, but mainland Chinese spent more than their counterparts from any other place. With Japan’s relaxation of visas for Chinese visitors, a weaker yen, and tax exemptions for foreign tourists, mainland Chinese could easily become the largest source of foreign visitors to Japan in 2015. During the 2015 Chinese New Year break, busloads of Chinese thronged major malls in Tokyo. Many Japanese businesses have hired Mandarin-speaking staff to better meet the needs of Chinese travelers.

Images by Guardian