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Eurasian Online Seminar: Professor Ezra Vogel

On Friday, April 10, a new “Eurasian Online Seminar” was launched by the Department of International Relations and the International Laboratory on World Order Studies and the New Regionalism of National Research University Higher School of Economics. 

The first seminar was conducted by the patriarch of East Asian studies, Professor Ezra Vogel from Harvard University.

Ezra F. Vogel is the Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences Emeritus at Harvard. Professor Vogel succeeded John Fairbank to become the second Director (1972-1977) of Harvard's East Asian Research Center and Chairman of the Council for East Asian Studies (1977-1980). He was Director of the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations at the Center for International Affairs (1980-1987) and, since 1987, Honorary Director. He was Director of the Fairbank Center (1995-1999) and the first Director of the Asia Center (1997-1999). He taught courses on communist Chinese society, Japanese society, and industrial East Asia. The Japanese edition of Professor Vogel's book Japan as Number One: Lessons for America (1979)remains the all-time best-seller in Japan of non-fiction by a Western author. He officially retired in 2000 but takes part in researches and East Asia related activities. His more recent influential books include Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China (2011)  and China and Japan: Facing History (2019).

In his lecture, the professor described the main periods of cooperation between Japan and China after the end of World War II, and also made a forecast regarding the further development of relations between the countries in the next decade. Despite the horrors of the war that the people of China had to face during the Japanese aggression, the cooperation between the countries that began in 1973 and intensified during the economic reforms of Deng Xiaoping, caused by the need for an influx of investment and technological development in China, caused optimism among the populations of both countries. During this period Japan was traditionally considered by China as the main ally, and even after the events on Tiananmen Square, which led to many years of economic and political isolation of China, the Japanese emperor visited China, which increased China's prestige in the international arena.

By addressing the main reasons for the long-term cooling in relations between the two states in the period 1980-1990s, professor Vogel emphasized the need for patriotic education of Chinese youth to avoid events similar to 1989, the historical memory of China, which, coupled with an increase in the number of documentaries and feature films about Japanese aggression in the period 1930-1940, led to an increase in the negative attitude of the Chinese population towards the Japanese. Nevertheless, despite this factor, as well as the aggravation of territorial disputes regarding the Senkaku (Diaoudao) islands, relations between China and Japan, according to the professor, begin to improve, and contradictions and suspicions give way to economic and political cooperation based on rational principles.