Sino-Japanese ties should go back to normal trajectory: Xi

By Liu Xin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Global Times, September 6, 2016
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Japan should watch its words and actions on the South China Sea and avoid disrupting joint efforts to improve Sino-Japanese relations, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday.

At the meeting after the close of the two-day G20 summit in Hangzhou, Xi said China and Japan should "put aside disruptions" in their relationship and return to normal development.

"The two countries' relations are at a critical stage where we must climb over a bump, and we'll fall back if we don't move forward," Xi said.

Xi said both sides should strive to push their ties forward, taking the opportunity of the 45th anniversary of the resumption of Sino-Japanese diplomatic ties next year, and the 40th anniversary of the signing of the China-Japan treaty of peace and friendship in 2018.

But he warned that Japan should "exercise caution in its words and deeds" on the South China Sea issue, so as not to disrupt the improvement of Sino-Japanese ties.

Japan has no territorial claims in the South China Sea. But the Abe government has several times tried to show its support for regional claimants in challenging China's territorial claims in this area.

During his Monday press conference, Abe mentioned the South China Sea issue, saying that it is extremely important to respect the rule of law and freedom of navigation.

ASEAN states are facing various problems such as the South China Sea issue. But the more complicated the issue is, the more important it is for us to come back to principles and international laws, Abe said, adding that no disputes can be solved by "power and forces."

China insists it will not accept The Hague court's recent arbitration decision on the Philippines' case over maritime territorial disputes with China.

Hu Lingyuan, a professor at the Japanese Research Center of Shanghai-based Fudan University, told the Global Times that as the world's second- and third-largest economies, cooperation between China and Japan will promote regional stability and prosperity as well as fuel the world economy.

There is also much room for economic cooperation between the two countries - China needs Japanese energy-saving technologies to develop its own energy sector, Hu said.

"Still, the Abe administration always talks of win-win policies with China, but takes actions to help the US contain China, which makes it difficult for the two countries to break the current deadlock," he said.

It will be Abe's long-term plot to use the South China Sea issue to win political support domestically as well as to support US policies in Asia, Hu said.

Wang Chong, deputy secretary general of the Charhar Institute, a think tank based in Beijing, told the Global Times that Japan needs to line up with the US and beat China in international economic competition. Abe has mentioned the South China Sea issue on many international occasions in an effort to pressure China and burnish its international image.

East China Sea issue

Wang said that the focus of China-Japan relations always lies in historical issues and territorial disputes and Japan also tries to push forward a new maritime regulation mechanism by repeatedly staging protests against Chinese vessels entering disputed waters in the East China Sea.

Tensions have been rising between the two countries since Japan voiced opposition to Chinese vessels sailing in Diaoyu Island waters in July and criticized China for hurting bilateral ties. China responded that it can conduct any activity in its own sovereign territory.

Wang said that the G20 summit offered an opportunity for the two countries to exchange ideas, but efforts are needed from both sides to end the deadlock, including launching a communication mechanism among leaders and seeking economic cooperation, especially on environmental protection and deepening exchanges among the two peoples to shorten the distance.

Abe said at a press conference after his talks with Xi that the two sides had reached a number of agreements, including speeding up negotiations toward an early implementation of a maritime and aerial communication mechanism for the East China Sea, increasing opportunities for bilateral dialogues and seeking to restart talks on an East China Sea gas development pact, according to Japanese media reports.

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