Hu Deping, the son of the late Chinese reform leader Hu Yaobang, visited Tokyo on April 8 and talked with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in separate meetings. Hu is a close friend of Chinese President Xi Jinping and many in the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hope that he will be instrumental in ushering better ties with China.
In the meeting, Suga stressed the importance of developing a “mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests” to Hu, who described the relations between the two countries as “inseparable” and essential to each other’s economies. Ties between the two powers went on a downturn on the issue of the disputed islands in the East China Sea and views on wartime history. Japan welcomed Hu’s visit as a sign that China is willing to bend its hard-line attitude and begin communications with Abe’s administration.
While some sources claim that Hu is one of the few pro-Japanese advocates who enjoy a direct line with President Xi and may be the best liaison between the two governments, some remain skeptical that his visit will have a huge impact on the nations’ icy relations. “It is unrealistic to expect Hu to act as more than a mere messenger,” noted a member of China’s Communist Party and further added that higher-level officials may not follow the visit with another. Meanwhile, some Japanese officials mulled over Hu’s trip, describing it as confusing. “It is extremely difficult to figure out what message China is trying to convey by sending Hu to Japan,” said a Foreign Ministry official.
[via The Asahi Shimbun]