China reaches out to Japan with high-level visits after years of mistrust.
Lately, China has been extending olive branches to all its strained neighbours, in what could be seen as its effort to shape the new world order.
Why there has been tension between Japan and China?
Japan and China have one of the most tense, yet economically intertwined relationships, which have moorings in their shared histories.
Beijing also believes Japan is yet to properly atone for its brutal invasion of China in the run-up to and during the 2ndWorld War (1931 and 1937).
Additionally, Japan has stood firm with the US camp in the post-War alignment, thereby pitting it as an adversary of China on several occasions.
Territorial dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands in the East China Sea is another pressure point in the Sino-Japanese ties.
Why has Sino-Japanese cooperation been panned till now?
Nonetheless, Japan played a vital role in China’s economic rise, which saw the country transform from an agrarian to a manufacturing powerhouse.
Notably, China-Japan trade stands at about $350 billion (by comparison, India-China trade is merely $84.44 billion).
China has overtaken Japan as the world’s second largest economy and has also eclipsed it as a global geostrategic player.
The two countries also are competitors in the South East Asian theatre, as the region has emerged as an economically and strategically significant one.
What are the developments in Sino-Japanese ties that happened recently?
Recently, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was in Japan on a three-day state visit, which was his first since taking office 5 years ago.
It was also the first top-level bilateral visit after the 2012 strain, which was caused over a chain of disputed islands that are claimed by both countries.
This thaw in was in the making for several months now, through multiple bilateral political and cultural engagements.
High level economic dialogue, which was stalled for over 8 years, has also been resumed, and a possible Beijing trip by the Japanese PM is on the cards.
The leaders are also said have engaged each other over the evolving dynamics in the Korean peninsula.
What is the scenario now?
An unpredictable U.S., North Korea and business interests are said to be driving the present bonhomie between the historical enemies.
Japan’s Worry – Trump’s America First policy and the tariffs he has slapped on some $60 billion worth of Chinese products have also impacted Japan.
Notably, Japan hadn’t managed to secure any concessions from US on the new duties on steel and aluminium imports despite being a strong ally.
Japan also hopes to seek China’s aid to influence North Korea’s temporal leadership of Japanese concerns.
Many Japanese businesses have also invested in China, which calls for bettering equations to ensure better economic prospects for all.
China’s Case – The idea of Japan’s leader asking for support on North Korea plays well domestically as an example of Beijing’s international clout.
Moreover, given the simmering possibility of a trade war with the U.S., better ties with economic heavyweight Japan are also in China’s interests.
In addition, China is keen on getting Japan to play ball with its signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
What are the outcomes of the current détente?
Japan-backed Asian Development Bank (ADB) is exploring co-financing projects with the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment bank (AIIB).
BRI – Although initially reluctant to participate in the BRI, Tokyo has presently signalled that it is not completely averse to the initiative.
But Japan has stressed that projects must meet the criteria of being “open, transparent, fair and economically feasible” if it is to participate.
In this way Japan can keep on the right side of China without necessarily committing to participation.
Uncertainty – Despite all these, current China-Japan alignment can be seen only as a provisional affair that is rooted in the geo-political realities.
While it is akin to a pause rather than a resolution of conflict, it is a positive development nevertheless, which needs to be welcomed.
WHO Report on Hepatitis virus and India
G.S, Paper 2, 3
Why in news?
WHO has listed viral hepatitis as a major public health problem throughout the world and particularly in India.
What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis A virus and hepatitis E virus are responsible for sporadic infections and the epidemics of acute viral hepatitis.
Hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus predominantly spread through the parental route and are notorious for causing chronic hepatitis.
Hepatitis C is caused by a blood-borne virus, which affects the liver, it could spread through the use of injectable drugs, unsafe injection practices and transfusion of unscreened blood.
However unlike hepatitis B, it is not sexually transmitted and there is no known vaccine for hepatitis C.
What did the WHO report say?
According to WHO Hepatitis is preventable and treatable but remains an acute public health challenge globally and in the Southeast Asia region.
Viral hepatitis kills approximately 4 lakh people every year in the Southeast Asia region and is responsible for more deaths than HIV and malaria put together.
WHO says these high numbers are unacceptable as there is an effective vaccine and treatment for hepatitis B, and over 90% of the people with hepatitis C can be cured.
What is the status of Hepatitis in India?
Water and blood-borne viral hepatitis is an important public health issue in India.
In India viral hepatitis is causing premature death and disease with over 10 million people chronically infected with hepatitis B and C, this is six times the number of HIV/AIDS patients.
The fact is that 95% of the people with chronic hepatitis do not know they have been infected and less than 1% has access to treatment.
What measures should be taken?
Union Health Ministry’s National Programme for Control of Viral Hepatitis for 2018-19, with a budget of Rs.600 crore for the next three years, hopes to screen the vulnerable population and provide free treatment where needed.
The National Hepatitis Policy will translate into better surveillance and detection of water and blood-borne hepatitis viral infections in various regions.
Availability of safe and potable water, early screening, vaccination and prevention of misuse of disposable needles and syringes will help to eliminate treatable viral hepatitis.
Easy availability of the newly discovered drugs at a reasonable price will help to make India free of viral hepatitis by 2030