Xinhua Insight: Chinese, Japanese leaders meet to thaw ties

2014-11-11 00:30:32 GMT2014-11-11 08:30:32(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English
Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hold a meeting at the request of the Japanese side ahead of the 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting in Beijing, China, Nov. 10, 2014. (Xinhua/Ma Zhancheng)Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hold a meeting at the request of the Japanese side ahead of the 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting in Beijing, China, Nov. 10, 2014. (Xinhua/Ma Zhancheng)

BEIJING, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday held their first meeting since the duo took office in a sign of thawing ties between the world's second and third largest economies.

Xi met Abe at the request of the Japanese side on the sidelines of the 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting.

Stable and healthy development of Sino-Japanese ties is in line with fundamental interests of people in both countries as well as the common aspiration of the international community, Xi told Abe.

China hopes that Japan should continue to follow the path of peaceful development and adopt prudent military and security policies, Xi said.

China and Japan have seen their relations sour since the Japanese government's "purchase" of the Diaoyu Islands in September 2012. The last formal meeting between a Japanese prime minister and a Chinese president was in December 2011.

Yang Bojiang, deputy head of the Institute of Japan Study of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said the Xi-Abe meeting might serve to thaw frosty ties between the two countries, and put them on the right track of steady improvement.

China was invaded by Japan in the first half of the 20th Century. Abe's visit last year to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors WWII war criminals, put already cool bilateral relations into even freezing point.

"Severe difficulties have emerged in Sino-Japanese relations in recent two years and the rights and wrongs behind them are crystal clear," Xi told Abe.

He added that Tokyo should "do more things that help enhance mutual trust between Japan and its neighboring countries, and play a constructive role in safeguarding the region's peace and stability."

Abe said Japan is determined to continue the path of peaceful development, noting that the current Japanese administration will maintain the same views held by previous governments on the history issue.

"China's peaceful development is a significant opportunity for Japan and the world," he added.

A long-speculated Xi-Abe meeting came true days after the two countries reached last week a four-point principled agreement to improve bilateral ties, in which the two sides agreed to resume political, diplomatic and security dialogue while acknowledging different positions on the Diaoyu Islands.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the agreement was "a major step" toward the improvement of Sino-Japanese relations when he met his Japanese counterpart.

In his meeting with Abe, Xi expressed hope that the Japanese side should properly handle related issues in line with the agreement.

He said Japan must follow the political documents between China and Japan and honor the commitments made by successive Japanese administrations, including a speech by former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama who stated that Japan, through colonial rule and aggression, had caused great damage and suffering to people of many countries, particularly in Asia, and that no such mistake should be made in the future.

Only in this way could Japan develop friendly and forward-looking ties with its Asian neighbors, he said.

Xi said the Chinese government has always attached importance to its ties with Japan, and has advocated pushing forward Sino-Japanese ties on the basis of the four political documents reached between China and Japan and in the spirit of "taking history as a mirror and looking forward to the future."

The four political documents refer to the China-Japan Joint Statement inked in 1972, the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1978, the China-Japan Joint Declaration of 1998 and a joint statement on advancing strategic and mutually-beneficial relations in a comprehensive way that was signed in 2008.

According to Qu Xing, president of the China Institute of International Studies, the Xi-Abe meeting is the reaffirmation of the four-point principled agreement reached last week.

Yang Bojiang said Abe is now facing mounting pressure from home and abroad, both economically and diplomatically, with political strain taking a toll on Japan's diplomatic and trade ties with neighboring countries.

His words were echoed by Gao Hong, deputy head with the CASS Institute of Japan Study.

Gao said provocations by the Japanese side had brought forth negative changes to Sino-Japanese ties which rippled also through economic and cultural exchanges between the two countries.

As a result, businesses and some political parties are now pressing Abe to resume dialogues and communications with China, he said.

However, Qu Xing cautioned that there still exist "structural contradictions" in Sino-Japanese ties which "cannot be fixed by just one or two meetings," he said.

Qu said dialogues between China and Japan should be carried out in a step-by-step fashion, but said the Xi-Abe meeting is an important step for the two countries to meet halfway.

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