Tensions in the Asian Trinity: China – Japan – U.S.A.


René Wadlow – TRANSCEND Media Service

26 Jan 2023 – After five years of growing tensions among China Japan and the U.S.A., U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will make an official visit to Beijing on 5-6 February 2023.  There is a long list of possible issues to discuss although the list of common actions may be much shorter.  Probably at the head of the list is the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its geopolitical and economic impact.  There follows the status of Taiwan.  Some have made a parallel between the Russian intervention in Ukraine and a possible attack on Taiwan. Russian difficulties in Ukraine have no doubt been discussed in Beijing, and the parallel discarded.

The role of North Korea and its military potential is a concern to China, to the U.S.A. and also Japan.  The economic ties of North Korea to China as well as relations between North and South Korea are aspects of the same Korean issue.  The dramatic growth of Japanese government investment in the military and security sector, no doubt related to its view of Chinese power, will be an aspect of the China-U.S.A. talks. A full two days is ahead of the delegations.

Tensions among China, Japan, and the U.S.A. in the 1930s led to the Asian theatre of World War Two at the start of the 1940s.  The war transformed the three countries helping to bring the Communists to power in China, re-structuring power and economic relations within Japan, and establishing the United States as a world power ready and willing to play an active role in world politics.  Events in Asia led to the start of the Cold War and even a “Hot War” as the 1950 War in Korea started.

It is unlikely that current tensions will have as dramatic an impact.  However, the “rise of China” is real and will transform – or at least modify deeply – relations in Asia.

At this stage, it is not clear what Track Two Diplomacy (informal contacts between academics, journalists and NGOs) can do.  There are a good number of bilateral contacts among students – Chinese students in the U.S.A. and Chinese students in Japan, but there are few contacts of the three together.  Informal discussions among the Asian Trinity should be considered and preliminary contacts made.


René Wadlow is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He is President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation and problem-solving in economic and social issues, and editor of Transnational Perspectives.

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 30 Jan 2023.

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