The Chinese administration of President Xi Jinping has officially been renewed for a second term by the National People's Congress. Close Xi ally Wang Qishan was also appointed vice president, one of a number of personnel decisions that indicate that the Xi government will be putting special emphasis on foreign affairs.
The People's Congress also did away with a constitutional provision limiting presidents to two terms, setting China's domestic political course with Xi firmly at the helm. It seems the greatest source of worry for the management of the Chinese government is international diplomacy. And if the Xi administration is going to cooperate with the global community, then it will be desirable for Japan. A line was also added to the Chinese Constitution declaring the country will "adhere to the peaceful development path," but will China follow this to the letter? We will watch this closely.
Vice President Wang has joined negotiations with the United States on economic issues and is tremendously well connected in that country. He has also resigned from his Communist Party of China (CPC) post and is thus independent. It seems likely Wang was chosen to help prevent increased trade friction with the increasingly protectionist administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, old Japan hand and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has also been granted the rank of state councillor, boosting the strength of his voice within the Chinese government. And Yang Jiechi, a former ambassador to the U.S. and former Chinese foreign minister, has become the first diplomat in 15 years to join the CPC Politburo. We can sense the importance of foreign relations figures in the ranks of the Chinese leadership.
President Xi is looking to promote his "Belt and Road" initiative, and has created a new external support department to help back the project. We understand that, as a new major economic power, China's interest in the world community and its desire to vastly expand its international presence is growing.
However, the Belt and Road initiative has led to serious internal disputes of nations including Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Major powers tend to make major waves, and Beijing must be mindful of local powers such as India, which is concerned that China's increasing international presence has geopolitical influence.
Meanwhile, China's expansionist doctrine in the South and East China seas has caused friction with Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines and other nations in the region. It's time for Beijing to re-evaluate this policy.
Elsewhere, North and South Korea, as well as North Korea and the U.S. have agreed to talks, and it seems that there is finally movement toward resolving the North Korean crisis -- the greatest destabilizing factor in East Asia. China must be deeply engaged in any final settlement.
The same way we say "Trump's America," we can also refer to "Putin's Russia" and now "Xi's China." If these phrases all came to mean leaders who always put the interests of their own countries first, it would reduce regional stability. This is to be avoided.
We have worries about the system of state power in China, but to build an ordered and stable East Asia, talks between Japan and China are indispensable. First of all, let us see what attitude the Xi government takes.