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China Daily Website

Beijing hopes to meet Tokyo 'halfway' in spat

Updated: 2013-01-31 03:04
By ZHANG YUNBI ( China Daily)

Beijing called on Tokyo on Wednesday to "create conditions" for improving strained relations, in response to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's proposal for a bilateral summit.

China attaches importance to developing relations with Japan and hopes to meet Japan "halfway" to get ties back on track, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Wednesday.

Following visits to China by a succession of prominent Japanese politicians, more tangible measures are expected from the Japanese government before the timing of a top leaders' meeting can be discussed, observers said.

During an appearance on Japan's Nippon Television on Tuesday night, Abe said it is necessary to "re-establish the relationship, starting with a summit".

Although he said high-level talks are needed for the problems the two countries are facing, the prime minister, known for his hawkish style, reiterated that the territorial issue is non-negotiable.

Despite normalized ties for more than 40 years, political stability had not been ensured between the two neighbors since the impasse flared, and the heated fray has dragged economic ties into turbulence, said Jiang Ruiping, a Japanese studies expert and vice-president of China Foreign Affairs University.

"Both sides are expected to expand shared interests and exert positive energy into bilateral relations," Jiang said.

Ties were strained after the Japanese government illegally "purchased" part of China's Diaoyu Islands in September, disregarding Beijing's strong protests.

Without Tokyo's determination to face up to the problems, it is virtually impossible to make a breakthrough in restoring relations, Xinhua said in a commentary.

The Japanese coast guard is considering deploying another 10 patrol vessels in the country's southwestern Okinawa prefecture over the Diaoyu Islands situation, Japan's Okinawa Times newspaper confirmed on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, three China Marine Surveillance ships continued their regular patrols in the territorial waters surrounding the islands, China's State Oceanic Administration said.

"If the islands standoff continues for a long time in the future, both sides should reach a new consensus in crisis management to avoid tensions," said Zhang Tuosheng, a researcher at the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies.

Abe made the proposal to hold a leader summit on the same day that Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Tuesday met with Japanese guests, including former Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama.

Yang said that at "such a critical juncture" for China-Japan relations, both countries should properly handle tensions over the Diaoyu Islands on the basis of previous understandings and with a responsible attitude toward history.

Murayama, who is now serving as honorary adviser to the Japan-China Friendship Association, arrived in China on Monday for a four-day visit, accompanied by association head Koichi Kato.

His trip was the third wave this month after former prime minister Yukio Hatoyama and Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of a junior party in the ruling coalition of Abe.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

Contact the writer at zhangyunbi@chinadaily.com.cn

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