Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Beijing during his first days in office may have a profound impact on Northeast Asia. His trip was a surprise: it underlined the differences between him and his predecessor Koizumi Junichiro, but also between his roles as prime minister and conservative hardliner. It’s too early to predict anything certain from his visit, but the fact that he has changed the rules of the game in Northeast Asia itself is significant. Equally important is China’s quick and positive response to Abe’s initiative. This reflects Chinese President Hu Jintao’s new thinking in foreign policy.