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June 1989

The Situation in China – Main Points of Minister’s Remarks at Japan – United States Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

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The Situation in China – Main Points of Minister’s Remarks at Japan – United States Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

(Understanding of the Current Situation)

At this time, there is a recognition that the situation is returning to normal through the hardline faction of Deng Xiaoping, Yang Shangkun, and Li Peng, but much remains uncertain. We are watching to see how the current situation will settle in the end (how much trouble is caused by the holding of the Party Central Committee, the charges against Zhao Ziyang, and others).

On the other hand, no matter what sort of settlement emerges for now, it is unthinkable that China will thereby be able to secure a lasting stability. Once popular demands catch fire, they cannot easily be suppressed. In the future, too, there are likely to be occasions (such as the death of Deng Xiaoping) when they will come into the open. Thus, the situation in China is expected to remain unstable for the time being. We need to continue observing it with care.

(Japan’s China Policy)

1. Japan has supported China’s efforts these past 10 years towards “modernization” in what is called its policy of opening and reform and has engaged in cooperation to the extent possible (such as active exchanges between leaders and those below them, and the proactive provision of official development aid). Our reason for doing so has been to ensure a moderate and stable China. The basis for this is the basic thinking that the existence of such a China is desirable for Asia and, in turn, the world. Our understanding is that the US Government, too, was thinking the same way on this point.

2. Therefore, the recent situation in China is nothing but truly regrettable. In relations of exchange and cooperation, which we have actively advanced toward the development of relations with China, we have come to a situation of having to accept major restrictions for the time being.

3. The Government of Japan in response to the current situation has taken the following measures:

(1) The Government, and I myself in the Diet, have made clear the following thoughts:

(a) The recent armed suppression of the students and other is truly regrettable and unacceptable from a humanitarian point of view.

(b) The recent strengthening of the government controls against students and average citizens (including arrests as a warning to others, and encouraging people to inform on others) is, even as China’s internal affair, incompatible with Japan’s basic values. 

(c) The Government of Japan, along with calling strongly on the Chinese government for self-restraint so as not to worsen the situation, hopes that the situation in China returns to normal as soon as possible.

(2) With the exception of some regional technical cooperation, we have suspended all economic cooperation on a governmental basis.

(3) We have no intention of carrying out high-level exchanges between Japan and China or sending various missions to China until the situation returns to normal.

(4) In the event of Chinese students in Japan applying for a renewal of their period of stay for the reason of the changes in the situation in China, we will respond case by case with flexibility, taking into consideration a student’s declared circumstances.

(5) We express our willingness to provide medical supplies and other emergency assistance.

(US-China Relations)

Meanwhile, I am deeply worried over where relations between the United States and China are going. In Japan, there is apprehension that, given China’s national character, the worsening of relations between the United States and China could broaden within China into an anti-foreign movement. Some are even calling in the Japanese Diet and elsewhere for Japan to play some sort of role to resolve the Fang Lizhi issue.

With relations between the United States and China worsening, a favorable progression in Japan-China relations is impossible.

Concerning the Fang Lizhi issue, I understand that serious negotiations are taking place between the United States and China. We strongly hope that the US and Chinese sides do not lose sight of the overall situation and that they come to some sort of resolution as soon as possible. Also, although there have been some loud voices coming from the US Congress, the Government of Japan appreciates the overall restraint and balance of the US Government’s reaction to this situation. I have full confidence in the leadership of President Bush, with his deep China experience, and in yours, Secretary Baker, with your many Chinese friends in positions of authority from your time at the White House and as Treasury Secretary.

Having clearly heard in this meeting from you, Mr. Secretary, the thoughts of the US side, I would like to consider conveying to persons in positions of authority in the Chinese government why we strongly hope for the Chinese side’s calm response.

(Future Policy Toward China)

1. The situation that we are presently facing, to put it simply, is one of being pressed to reconcile two contradictory positions. That is, in response to the series of actions of the Chinese authorities, we express a political and moral position that what they have done is unacceptable. On the other hand, however, it will not do to make them feel that we are once again isolating China from international society and that the West is abandoning them or, further, to drive them into rapprochement with the Soviet Union. These are the two contradictory positions. Between them, careful and balanced judgment is required of us. On the other hand, depending on the situation of each Western country (domestic situation, relations to date with China, and such), it is probably inevitable that there will emerge some differences in how they speak of it.

2. In response to the recent situation in China, while adhering to a firm position of saying what needs to be said publicly or in private, Japan has responded on the whole with caution, at least in its official statements, regarding the situation in China. While there may be some in Japan unsatisfied with such a political response, such a careful response on the part of the government has by and large gained domestic support. In the background to this is the following:

(1) There are many regrettable points in the course of action taken by the Chinese authorities, but one has to say that the matter is basically the internal affair of China, a country whose political system, social system, and values differ from those of the West.

(2) Loudly criticizing from one side according to the yardstick of Western values may drive China all the more in the direction of isolation. Furthermore, one point of difference between Asian countries and the advanced countries of the West is that Asian countries are having a hard time establishing modern political societies. I believe that arguing right and wrong in applying the standards of Western countries to the realities of Asia will not contribute to the stability of this region.

(3) Taking the position that the maintaining of stable relations between Japan and China in East Asia is indispensable to peace and stability in the region, we would like to avoid by all means the wide-ranging Japan-China relations that we have toiled to build coming to naught. It is recognized that the public is understanding and in agreement concerning these points.

3. An explanation regarding Japan’s future economic cooperation with China is as follows:

(1) We will continue cooperation to the extent possible so long as China adheres to a policy of modernization and opening.

(2) Japan will abide by its agreements and keep its promises, including political promises, to the Chinese side.

Our thinking is to quietly continue with projects to which we are already committed, while waiting for improvement in the implementation environment. Meanwhile, we will not send out survey teams and the like. Our thinking is that, even if delays develop, it cannot be helped.

(3) We are postponing new projects to a certain extent for now, in consideration of various circumstances, and keeping an eye on the situation.

We will not break our promise on the Third Yen Loan (810 billion yen over the six-year period of 1990 – 1995), which Prime Minister Takeshita announced in August last year.

4. A lively exchange of views on the situation in China is expected at the July Summit and elsewhere. Even if an expression of some sort of recognition regarding this situation is possible at the Summit, as long as the situation in China continues in its present state, Japan will have difficulty agreeing to anything beyond what has already been said, such as joint sanctions on the part of the West, due to our basic thinking, which I have already mentioned.

5. China will probably experience future setbacks like this one in the process of its modernization. I think that the key here is for us to avoid overreacting or becoming pointlessly emotional and to keep a close watch on the Chinese side’s situation with patience and as much warmth as possible.

Between Japan and the United States, although there are differences in specific policy measures, it would be unacceptable for there to emerge a major divergence in the direction of our respective policies on China. As the situation in China remains fluid, I would like our two governments to continue holding close consultations on this issue at all levels.

(Questions and Answers: Main Points)

(Concerning the return to China of Japanese trading company employees and others)

I have also taken note of this matter. In press conferences and in the Diet, I have called on the companies involved to show restraint. Given the accomplishments to date in Japan-China economic relations, there is certainly an internationally conspicuous aspect to them. The government will continue to convey this thinking to the business community in various ways.

(Concerning the strengthening of repression, including executions)

1. Although this has taken place basically within China’s judicial framework, one cannot deny that China’s image in international society has been greatly damaged by the Chinese government’s recent series of measures, including the strengthening of controls.

2. Concerning the situation since June 4, countries all over the world, including Japan, are concerned or worried on the basis of their particular positions. I hope that China will listen to such international voices.

(Also, if questioned whether you will make a representation to China)

We are not thinking to make a representation concerning the handling of individual cases.

Highlights Japan’s ongoing understanding of the situation in China following the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989, Japan’s China policy, implications of U.S.-China relations to Japan, future China policy, and an explanation regarding Japan’s future economic cooperation with China.

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2020-0545, Act on Access to Information Held by Administrative Organs, published online by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Translated by Stephen Mercado.


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