Ezra F. Vogel, 85, a sociologist at Harvard University, has spent a lifetime studying China and Japan, writing a best-sellingbiography of the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and producing widely read studies of Japanese society. Now, dispirited by mounting tensions between the two countries, he has set out to promote a deeper understanding of the relationship between China and Japan across time. Mr. Vogel is working on a book that will explore moments in history when China and Japan were in closest contact, beginning with Japanese missions to China during the Tang dynasty (618-907) to study Buddhism, medicine and architecture. He will examine the period of 1895 through 1937, when many Chinese went to Japan to study, as well as the legacy of Japan’s invasion of China in what became World War II, played out in continuing disputes over history and territory. He also plans to investigate the export of Japanese culture into China, including movies and technology, in more recent times. In an interview during a visit to the Stanford Center at Peking University in Beijing, he discussed relations between China and Japan, as well as some of the challenges facing Chinese leaders today.
現年85歲的哈佛大學社會學家傅高義(Ezra F. Vogel)傾畢生精力研究中國和日本，他撰寫的中國領導人鄧小平的傳記相當暢銷，他對日本社會的研究也贏得了許多讀者。如今，這兩個國家之間日益加深的緊張令他失望，於是他着手向人們介紹，中日兩國之間源遠流長的關係。傅高義正在寫一本書，探討兩國密切往來的歷史時期，以唐代（618年至907年）日本遣唐使到中國研究佛教、醫學和建築為開端，陸續談到1895年至1937年，很多中國人前去日本留學的那段時期。他還會談到，日本在二戰之前和二戰期間侵略中國的過去，在持續不斷的領土和歷史糾紛中發揮的影響。他還計劃探討日本近年來對中國的文化輸出，包括電影和技術方面。傅高義前往北京大學斯坦福中心訪問時，接受了記者的採訪，討論了中國和日本之間的關係，以及中國領導人如今面臨的一些挑戰。
Q. It has now been 70 years since the end of World War II, but animosity persists, and Chinese leaders routinely call on Japan to apologize for its wartime actions. Why has it been so difficult to find common ground?
A. The Chinese feel they are an awfully grand civilization, and that the world was turned upside down after the mid-19th century when the imperialists came in. They think: “We have suffered. Finally, we’ve made it. Japan has been looking down on us since the late 19th century. Now our economy has passed Japan’s. Bow down and apologize for all the horrible things you did.” That’s a fundamental psychological underpinning.
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Secondly, I think World War II was not discussed and dealt with in a kind of open way. The Cold War interfered, and they didn’t talk to each other much. They never really worked out their feelings about the war, and there were never formal agreements about reparations and things like that. I also think that the anti-Japanese movement has been helpful for Chinese leaders after the Tiananmen incident [the military suppression of democracy protests in 1989], in providing a motif to get the students to support the leadership.
Q. To mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the war in September, President Xi Jinping presided over amilitary parade in Beijing. What message was China trying to send?
A. They wanted to show that China is a major power, but they also wanted to show the people that this is a strong government, and that they have a lot to be proud of. They want the military to be in line, and the whole country to be unified.
Q. How would you describe the attitude of China’s leaders today toward Japan?
A. The current leadership did not have much experience in foreign policy when they came into power. They are the Cultural Revolution generation. They didn’t have direct contact with foreign countries or cultures in their formative years. There’s a kind of mixture now between the pragmatic people, who realize they need Japanese technology and trade and tourism and so forth as part of the global international picture, and those who are furious and think that to unify the country, unity against Japan is very important.
A. The Chinese situation has a lot of differences. I think they’re trying very hard now to deal with the inequality problem. Xi Jinping and his generation don’t have enough experience. They think they can get rid of it in five years, but that’s unrealistic. My own guess is — I’m not an economist, I don’t get involved in those details — but 6.5 percent economic growth for five years sounds to me a little high. I think you sort of go with the punches, you don’t panic, you don’t let the bubble get too much bigger. The Japanese did make mistakes in the 1980s in letting the bubble get too big.
A. Ma Ying-jeou is a very principled guy who really cares about doing good things for his Taiwan. I think he feels that at the end of his career he wants to do something really constructive, to take a big step toward closer relations that cannot be undone. This is very dramatic.
For Xi Jinping, my hunch is that he wants to show he’s making some progress in the relationship — that he’s not a weak character. I think he must calculate that this will constrain Tsai Ing-wen [presidential candidate of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party], assuming she becomes the new leader in Taiwan.
Q. You have studied the life of Deng Xiaoping in great detail. How does he compare with President Xi, who is often said to be the most influential leader since Deng?
A. Xi Jinping wants to be a game changer. He wants to have one centralized authority. I think in that sense you can compare him with Mao and Deng. I think Deng was undertaking a very basic reform structure. And what Xi Jinping is trying to do is take a structure that’s pretty well formed now and adapt it to deal with various problems.
I disagree with people who think Xi Jinping is the strongest leader since Mao. Deng Xiaoping was a military hero, he had spent six years abroad, he was a local leader, he had been one of the first thousand or so members of the Communist Party, he had foreign policy experience, he had a breadth and depth of contact.
Xi Jinping is the new man on the block. He had no work experience in Beijing. To get control over a large organization, you can’t compare with the power and authority that Deng had. Xi’s got tough problems to deal with, but it will take him a while to do it.