China's helm change leaves Tokyo wary of new leader Jingping's stance on island dispute

Last Updated: Wed, Nov 14, 2012 11:30 hrs

China's appointment of Vice President Xi Jingping as the new leader of nation comes at a time when its growing military expansion and tensions with its neighbors, particularly Japan, indicate towards a turbulent future.

The helm change is being initiated by the Chinese Communist Party's 18th National Congress, which is expected to usher in a new era under Jingping, who will be in charge for the next 10 years.

Saddled with a host of problems, China in many ways is at a turning point, as it remains unclear as to what diplomatic stance Jingping will take with Japan, thereby leaving Tokyo wary of the promotion.

"It's uncertain how Xi will navigate the escalating tension," The Japan Times quited Akio Takahara, a professor of Chinese politics at the University of Tokyo, as saying.

According to the paper, Hosei University professor Zhao Hongwei said said that Jingping may hold negative sentiment toward Japan based on his past experiences, which was when he first visited Japan as vice president in 2009, he may have felt insulted because the Imperial Household initially balked at his 'last-minute' request to meet with Emperor Akihito.

He apparently lost face in 2010 when Japan briefly arrested a Chinese fishing boat captain after his vessel was involved in a clash with coast guard cutters trying to shoo it away from the Senkakus, the paper said.

And the central government's purchase of the islets may have been the last straw that foreclosed on any trust Jingping might have had toward Japan, Zhao said.

"If Japan does not respond to such an overture from Jingping, China can claim to the global community that Japan is to blame for not willing to sit down at the bargaining table," said Zhao, who specializes in Chinese politics and international relations in East Asia.

"Xi might be feeling that all his efforts to build a sound relationship with Japan have been betrayed," he said.

Yet under Beijing's system of collective leadership, Jingping's position alone may not be the deciding factor, the paper added. (ANI)

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