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Sino-Japanese Relations Symposium
Date: 10-11 June 2008 

Thirty years ago, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and Japanese Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda signed the 1978 Treaty of Peace and Friendship, in hope that they could build upon the 1972 diplomatic normalisation and enhance the relationship between China and Japan after decades of hostilities. The 1978 Treaty was not merely a product of strategic exigencies and political convenience; the spirit behind the Treaty was supposed to provide the very foundation upon which future bilateral relations were to be constructed.  Three decades have gone by since the signing of the 1978 Treaty, and in retrospect, one might find it hard to agree that Sino-Japanese relations is marked by peace and friendship. The latter half of the last thirty years has been particularly challenging. From 1995 onwards, hardly a year went by without major diplomatic flare-ups and political friction between China and Japan. Nationalism, realpolitik concerns, conflicting strategic interests and clashing identities have been attributed to be responsible for the difficulties we are witnessing in Sino-Japanese relations today.

History, however may go on to show that 2008 would be a critical and noteworthy year in East Asia, not only because this year marks the 30th anniversary of 1978 Sino-Japanese Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Neither is it because Japan and China have reached a formula by which they can resolve their differences in the historic year which China is hosting the Olympics. Rather the significance of this year could be attributed to the fact that China and Japan seems to have reached an inflection point in their bilateral relationship. The respective visits of Japanese PMs Abe and Fukuda in 2006 and 2007 to China and the anticipated return visit of President Hu later this year; the visit of the Chinese warship Shenzhen to Japan and the relatively low key way in which various disputes are being handled this year all seem to stand in testimony that both the government and the people in Japan and China recognise that something has to be done in order to improve bilateral relations.  2008 could well be the year that for the first time in the post Cold War era, China and Japan are moving to reconcile their differences at the highest level, with popular domestic political support and corresponding diplomatic will. Yet, the all important questions still remain: Which way forward for Japan and China? How do they find lasting peace and friendship ?

The HKU Department of Japanese Studies is proud to present a symposium to commemorate this critical year in Sino-Japanese relations. This symposium will be held on 10th and 11th June 2008. The purpose of this symposium is to:

- take stock on the achievements and the challenges of Sino-Japanese relations since the signing of the 1978 Treaty of Peace and Co-operation, particularly in the post Cold War era.
- provide an in-depth discussion of the different difficulties within this set of bilateral relationship, for example over territorial dispute, historical legacies, energy competition, theatre missile defence, bilateral relationships with the US, the Taiwan issue, Korean nuclear crisis etc.
- assess bilateral or third party efforts to effect reconciliation between the two nations and the policies and measures instituted to enhance of relations fostering co-operation.

Details information:

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