Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan visited Xi in China (President Xi is now just Xi, like Mao, remember him?), and it seems that these two Asian super powers are building a “new framework” and a brand new relationship. Some of the takeaways from the meeting are as follows: jointly move to build infrastructure in third countries, boost bilateral economic cooperation and promote free trade (Trump triggered this one), resume a currency swap agreement to up to 3.4 trillion dollars in case they are faced with a new financial crisis, open a hotline to ensure that any clashes in the South China Sea can be addressed live, and work to denuclearize North Korea. Oh, and the Chinese are sending more Pandas to Japan. Just as a side note, all Pandas in zoos around the world are owned by China, they are only on loan or lease.
Japan has already announced that it will discontinue its 40 year old assistance program to China. This is important because giving assistance to China is more like giving money to a rich cousin – some shops in Japan`s Harajuku shopping district is now seeing as much as 50 percent of their overseas customers from China, with the remaining 50 percent from Europe, the US and other Asian countries.
Clearly there is one area that the Chinese and Japanese must discuss – their Navies in the South China Sea. Japan patrols area around its island chain and sometimes into blue waters while China, now focusing on its Nine-Dash Line, brings its ships within striking distance of the Japanese patrols. More importantly, Japanese ships are now engaged in joint operations with India and the US. These naval patrols will only increase in number and intensity – the hotline between Tokyo and Beijing is surely necessary.
Keep in mind that Japan has the most powerful Navy in the Far East and it is growing. China is now an expansionary power and is gobbling up islands in the region. Confrontations are possible in the future, or even likely.