SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

Li Yanming “SGRA Café #11 Report” (The Complex Triangular Relationship of Japan, China and Taiwan)

The 11th “SGRA Café” was held at Kajima Hall on July 28 (Sat.), titled “the Complex Triangular Relationship of Japan, China and Taiwan”.  In the middle of the café, unfortunately, we were visited by heavy rain and had to give up on holding the BBQ party at the inner court.  Instead, we had more time for questions after the lecture and had a very fruitful discussion with the close to 30 participants.


The lecturer was Professor Lim Chuan Tiong (Assistant Researcher of Central Research Academy, Taiwan) who came up with the concept of the “East Asian frontier”. He was a former scholarship recipient of the Atsumi International Foundation.  Representative Ms. Junko Imanishi first explained that the SGRA Café was started for scholarship students who have been active in their own fields after graduation in order for them to share their thoughts and opinions frankly.      


The keywords of this café were “complex triangular relationship”. In order to grasp “how complex” or understand the “China factors” which have come to be a cause for concern in Japan-Taiwan relations, Professor Lim started his lecture from the history of the colonialization of Taiwan as the result of the Sino-Japan War. 

He emphasized that Taiwan, which has been separated from China since after the war, could instead experience a “modern nation state” which came to be the basis of a  different identity from China.

He referred also to the fact that there are still different perceptions by China and Taiwan of the Japan-China War after the defeat of the Kuomimtang (Taiwanese Nationalist Party) and coming into Taiwan as the result of the war, and discussed how the image of the Communist Party was constructed in mainland China as well as the split in Taiwan (between the people from mainland China and the immigrants from China to Taiwan). Following this, he summarized the main factors which the Chinese Government had to pay attention to in the Japan-Taiwan relationship, explaining the formation of a new “Japan–China relationship“ after the war, namely the relationship between Japan-PRC (People’s Republic of China) and Japan-ROC (Republic of China-Taiwan) and “the 1972 System” which was established after “the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China” . In other words, Taiwan as an un-unified land of the Chinese Government was an essential part for establishing their modern state. It is the core of legitimacy of the PRC Government.


Prof. Lim then presented a future prospect of the triangular relationship between Japan, China and Taiwan by explaining the main tendencies of Japan-Taiwan relations in recent years and the “China factors” which would affect Japan-Taiwan relations. After 2013 in particular, he observed an ossification of Japan-China relations and strengthening of Japan-Taiwan relations happening at the same time.  The Chinese Government, along with the strengthening of their own power, showed a tolerant attitude toward Taiwan. However, at the same time they also exerted pressure on the government of Ts’ai Ing-wen by showing strong precaution.  As a result of these moves by China, Taiwan is compelled to approach Japan and America more closely instead.

It is not easy for China to break their promises with Japan and America. Prof. Lim reached his conclusion that this state of complex relations and complicated diplomacy with China would continue.


During the question and answer session, many people mainly asked about current problems. However, some people also asked un-academic general questions related to everyday life, such as wanting to know for how long Taiwan would be ill-treated by China.  I think the basis of such questions demonstrates that China does not understand Taiwanese society well, although this understanding should be the basis of Chinese government policy. The audience included ex-diplomats as well as businessmen working in economic exchange, and they discussed their own experiences as well as personal perspectives. These opinions nicely complemented the content of the lecture.


The lecture was followed by a BBQ, during which the discussion and pleasant banter between lecturer and participants continued. The number of participants in the SGRA Café has increased recently, and I think our motto of sharing knowledge from a variety of perspectives with honesty and candor has been sufficiently realized.


(photo of the day)


Report in Japanese (original)


(Li Yanming / Associate Professor, Faculty of Liberal Arts, The University of Tokyo)     



Translated by Kazuo Kawamura

English checked by Sonja Dale