The Impact of Chinese National Identity on Sino-Japanese Relations - CWP Fellow Alumni He Yinan
Sino-Japanese relations have been in another volatility cycle since the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands disputes flared up again in 2012. While recent meetings of top leaders and their foreign ministers laid down conditions for relationship improvement, mutual distrust and animosity continue to fester at both official and popular levels. In addition to realist explanations of power shift and geostrategic rivalry, a widening gap between their national identities is highly relevant. This paper studies the impact of Chinese elite representations of national identity on Sino-Japanese relations since 2015. The Xi Jinping government has promoted national reinvigoration that emphasizes Chinese history and culture, the socialist model, and defense of core interests. However, this national identity conception runs counter to that of Abe Shinzo's Japan, a democratic and historically revisionist country. As a result of their sharp identity conflict, both China and Japan are suspicious that the other country is trying to upset the international status quo, without realizing that their own ideological insistence may have biased their perceptions. Each country has, thus, prized a stick policy aimed at deterrence against the other, over a carrot policy for mutual reassurance and accommodation.
Yinan He (何忆南) is an associate professor in the Department of International Relations at Lehigh University. She received her Ph.D. in political science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on politics of memory and reconciliation, East Asian international security, Chinese and Japanese foreign policy, and national identity mobilization and nationalism in East Asia. She is the author of The Search for Reconciliation: Sino-Japanese and German-Polish Relations since World War II (Cambridge University Press, 2009). The book is the first systematic, scholarly study on post-conflict interstate reconciliation. In addition to her fellowship from Princeton-Harvard China and the World program, She has held An-Wang Postdoctoral Fellow in Chinese Studies at Harvard University, John M. Olin Fellowship in National Security at Harvard University, Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar Fellowship of the United States Institute of Peace, MacArthur Fellowship on Transnational Security Issues, and Japanese Government Mombusho Scholarship sponsored by the University of Tokyo, among others. In 2011-2013, she was selected as a Public Intellectuals Program (PIP) fellow of the National Committee on United States-China Relations. In AY 2012-2013 she was a Visiting Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University. She holds a B.A. from Peking University and M.A. from Fudan University in international politics.