Beijing, April 30 (IANS) Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida held talks in Beijing on Saturday in a bid to relieve tensions that have sparked mistrust between the world’s second and third largest economies.
During the opening remarks, Wang stressed that China-Japan ties must be based on respect for history, adherence to commitment, and on cooperation rather than confrontation, Xinhua news agency reported.
China and Japan are neighbours, Wang said, stressing that China is willing to develop a healthy and stable relationship with Japan.
“We hope that your visit will play a positive role in actual improvement of China-Japan ties,” said Wang.
The visit comes against the backdrop of simmering tensions between the countries over the sovereignty of some islands in the East China Sea for almost four years now, as well as over historical conflicts due to wars and the Japanese occupation of China in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Wang also praised Japan for having offered to take the “first step” to improve ties, echoing the words of Kishida before he embarked on the tour.
Kishida is also expected to meet with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang today to set the groundwork for a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, EFE news reported.
According to a Chinese foreign ministry statement, which does not include statements by the Japanese minister, Wang expressed China’s wish to establish a relationship of cooperation instead of confrontation between the two nations, but remarked it had to be done “facing up to history”.
Chinese media, however, said the latest actions by Japan are at odds with such “positive” signals, indicating, among others, Japan’s decision to send twelve vessels to patrol an area close to the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands in early April, after a legislative package awarding greater powers to the Japanese Army came into effect.
The reform, which Tokyo says will strengthen its alliance with Washington, is seen by detractors, including China, as a way to end the pacifism so far favoured by the Japanese Constitution.
They also mentioned recent visits by Japanese leaders, including Prime Minister Abe, to Tokyo’s Yasukuni shrine, seen as a symbol of the country’s militaristic past by China.