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China, Japan try to ease tensions with talks
Latest Updated by 2006-05-10 10:13:21
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China and Japan concluded a three-day strategic dialogue Tuesday in southwest China's Guizhou Province with a glimmer of hope that tensions might be easing between the two countries.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said the two sides agreed to hold a fifth round of talks on the East China Sea issues in mid May.

Early this year, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said that the two countries have disputes over the demarkation of the East China Sea and the Chinese side holds that such disputes should be handled through consultations.

Early report said that Japan would never accept China's suggestion on jointly exploring the East China Sea resources and Japan would possibly take confrontation measures if China conducts gas and oil exploration on the East China Sea.

China on April 21 once again stressed that it doesn't accept Japan's unilateral claim of the so-called "median line" in the East China Sea.

Liu said Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo and Japanese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Shotaro Yachi, who headed the two delegations, discussed the possibility of a meeting between the two Foreign Ministers.

Jin Linbo, a professor with the China Institute of International Studies, said results of the strategic dialogue, the fifth in a year, sent out a positive signal against the backdrop of strained China-Japan ties.

"Such a mechanism works as an important channel for the two countries, which have no high-level contacts, to exchange ideas," he said.

Since Oct. 2004, China and Japan have convened four rounds of consultations on the East China Sea issues. Last round of talks was held in Beijing in March this year.

Spokesman Liu said the previous four rounds showed that China and Japan were still greatly divided on East China Sea issues and the situation was "rather complicated".

Despite great differences, Liu said China and Japan were still willing to solve problems through consultation and to find a final solution.

"Such consultations are helpful," he said.

On the possible meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and his Japanese counterpart Taro Aso on the sidelines of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue to be held in Qatar on May 23 and 24, Liu declined to give a clear answer, simply saying, "It would depend on the result of consultation."

Leaders of the two countries have suspended exchanges since Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro began paying homage at the controversial Yasukuni war shrine soon after he took office in 2001. The two Foreign Ministers have rarely had contact.

Liu said China had taken the opportunity to elaborate its position on bilateral ties and urged Japan to work with China to remove the political obstacles which prevented ties from improving.

He said Vice-Foreign Minister Dai pointed out that Japan should take corresponding measures to work with China to reach the common goal.

Chinese President Hu Jintao had explained China's policy on China-Japan relations On March 31 in a meeting with the heads of seven Japan-China friendship organizations.

Hu made it clear that the major obstacle in China-Japan relations was Japanese leaders' insistence on visiting the Yasukuni Shrine which honors Japan's war dead, including 14 class A criminals of World War II.

But Hu also pointed out that the Chinese government believed the Japanese people's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine were different from the leaders' visits, and ordinary Japanese soldiers who were forced into war were different from the few militarists and class A criminals of war.

Professor Jin said the Chinese government had taken many measures to reverse the downturn in China-Japan relations, including encouraging non-governmental exchanges between the two countries.

China's repetition of its position on bilateral ties, especially on the shrine visit, indicated its hope that Japan would respond positively to its efforts to jointly improve relations, Jin said.

Editor: Yan

By: Source: China View website
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