With a total trade volume of about US$300 billion, Japan is China’s third-largest trading partner behind the United States and European Union. It is China’s largest source of imports and the fifth-largest market for exports.
There is a distinct line dividing China and Japan with regard to the global manufacturing system, with Japan occupying high-end upstream sectors and exporting parts and components for assembly in China.
Over the long term, the mainland may actually benefit from the disasters in Japan. Japan has already transferred a large chunk of its manufacturing base in low-tech sectors to the mainland over the past 20 years, while still keeping its core competitive hi-tech manufacturing at home, including semiconductors, liquid display panels, and high-end material sectors. Now some companies are seriously considering relocating these bases to the mainland to mimize exposure to future natural disasters.
The post-quake reconstruction may also give a new breed of indigenous Chinse multinational companies room to flex their muscles. As an example, look no further than Sany Heavy Industry and its 62-meter concrete pump that is playing a vital role in pumping water to help in the cooling of the damaged reactors of the Fukushima nuclear power plant.