Pekin’s hope of Japan-China ties is partly backed by the steady diplomacy of the presidents of both countries and by their consolidation of power. In comparison to 2012, Japan and China’s foreign ministers meet more regularly, both countries have been cooperating to implement the RCEP and have begun third-country infrastructure cooperation in Thailand as a test case for how they can work together as a result of the visit of Abe to meet Xi in October 2018.
Certain warming barometers include a decrease in anti-Japanese rhetoric in oratory from Beijing, Chinese newspapers and TV shows, and an increasingly positive outlook for Japan among Chinese citizens.
Despite the positive signs, the major security difficulties in the East China Sea over the Senkaku Islands, the fears of Japanese (and other countries ‘) militarized artificial islands in the South China Sea and wider geopolitical Chinese ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region remain unanswered during the recent visit.
This list doesn’t include several evaluations of China’s reaction to nuclear weapons possession by North Korea, especially its ability to live with a Beijing friendly North Korea. Nor does the new Chinese march to bifurcate its industrial eco-system or to intensify the internal abuse demonstrated by widespread persecution of Chinese citizens as well as internment in re-education centers of the Uighurs of Ethics.
The major challenges to taking ties past one-dimensional trade ties, commonly called the seikei bunri (separation of economy and politics), lie in these structural issues in the relationships and treatment of home affairs.
With this in mind, China would not appear to be based on a structural change in the system on protection and political grounds, in contrast to the course of relations between Japan and China.
The next issue is the Chinese perspective on the status of relations between Japan and the US. Again, the Chinese assessment has been one of the key links in danger with the view that the United States is a declining power in the region, that White House leadership is mercurial and just not strategic, and that the connections between the US and Japan at a fundamental level are superfluous and even unhealthy relative to the deep historical-cultural ties that have been formed.