World News

Are better China-Japan relations on the horizon?

Are better China-Japan relations on the horizon?

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has given a warm welcome to visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, as they work to improve bilateral relations.

Besides the hotline, Wednesday's pact also provides for regular meetings between both nations' defence officials and a mechanism for their naval vessels to communicate at sea to avert maritime incidents.

China's relations with Japan have also always been poisoned by what Beijing sees as Tokyo's failure to atone for its occupation of parts of China before and during World War Two.

"As close neighbours and major economies of the world, long-term, healthy and stable relations between China and Japan are mutually beneficial and in line with the peace, stability and prosperity of the region and the world", Li was quoted as saying by state-run Xinhua.

Over the past 40 years, bilateral ties made productive achievements guided by principles set in the treaty, despite twists and turns, Li said.

During a meeting with Tadamori Oshima, speaker of the House of Representatives in Japan's parliament, or Diet, the premier said President Xi Jinping sent a clear message to the world at the 2018 Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan province that China will firmly open its door wider.

Talks on the hotline had stalled in 2012, after the Japanese government bought the disputed islands, known in Tokyo as the Senkaku, and in Beijing as the Diaoyu, from a private landowner.

Railroads connecting them to China and South Korea would be a good start, certainly.

But signs of warming ties emerged late past year, when Abe attended a celebration marking China's National Day at its embassy in Tokyo, and expressed interest in joining Beijing's "Belt and Road Initiative" spanning Asia, Europe and Africa.

The two sides also signed on Wednesday a series of memorandum on service trade and third-party market cooperation among others.

Premier Li Keqiang engages in conversation on Thursday with Japan's Emperor Akihito (left) at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

Sun Cheng, a Japanese affairs expert at the China University of Political Science and Law, said while Li's visit was a good sign for bilateral ties, suspicions ran deep between the two sides.

The premier called on Japan to align its development strategies with the Belt and Road Initiative, boost cooperation in innovation and high-end manufacturing.

In the political area, Li said at Thursday's reception that China and Japan have agreed that they will use history as a mirror while keeping a future-oriented mind, and maintain high-level exchanges.


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