China seeks ties with Japan based on ‘co-operation’
April 30 2016 11:07 PM
Kishida with Wang at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.


Beijing wants to establish a relationship with Japan based on “co-operation, not confrontation”, China’s foreign minister told his Japanese counterpart yesterday.
Various territorial and historical disputes have soured bilateral relations in the past, but they have thawed more recently.
Fumio Kishida was on a three-day visit to China – the first by a Japanese foreign minister in four and a half years.
The two diplomats last held talks in Beijing in November 2014 on the sidelines of an international conference.
“We certainly wish to develop healthy, stable and friendly relations with Japan,” said China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a meeting with Kishida.
But he added: “This relationship must be built on the basis of an honest view of history, respect for promises, and co-operation, not on confrontation.”
Beijing and Tokyo are embroiled in a fierce dispute over the sovereignty of uninhabited territories in the East China Sea – islands administered by Japan as the Senkaku, but claimed by China under the name Diaoyu.
Relations between the two countries deteriorated in 2012 when Tokyo “nationalised” some of the islands.
Since then, the two largest Asian economies have taken steps to mend fences, with meetings between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
But abuses committed by the Japanese military in China before and during World War II still fuel tension, with Beijing regularly accusing Tokyo of downplaying its role in the atrocities.
Meeting at a state guest house, Wang told Kishida that relations  had fallen to a low: “We have recently seen the Japanese side repeatedly expressing its hope of improving the bilateral relationship. You have also shown your willingness to take the first step. If you come with sincerity, we welcome you.”
“As the Chinese saying goes, we should make a judgment based on not only what people say but also what they do,” he added. “Facing up to history, abiding by promises and co-operation rather than confrontation should be the basis of China-Japan relations.”
The reasons that China-Japan relations have gone through twists and turns in recent years are best known by Japan, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported Wang as saying.
Kishida, speaking later to Japanese reporters, said that there had been a “frank exchange of views” in what he called an extremely significant visit.
“At this meeting we confirmed the importance of Sino-Japanese relations and agreed that both sides would strive for further improvement in ties,” he said, according to Japan’s NHK broadcaster.
“We really want to regain relations in which we can visit each other frequently,” Kishida added. “The two countries need each other at a time when uncertainties are growing in the international economy.”
During his visit, Kishida will discuss Sino-Japanese territorial disputes and North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme, according to Nippon Television Network.
Talks will also focus on the establishment of a “hotline” for direct communication between the two capitals in case of increased tensions over the East China Sea dispute, according to Jiji.
China’s foreign ministry said Wang made suggestions for how to improve relations, using forceful language that underscores the suspicion in Beijing about Tokyo.
Wang urged Japan to have “a more positive and healthy attitude toward the growth of China, and stop spreading or echoing all kinds of ‘China threat’ or ‘China economic recession’ theories”.
Kishida later met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

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