China’s vice president calls for improved ties with Tokyo

August 19, 2014

By NANAE KURASHIGE/ Correspondent

BEIJING--Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao says that both Tokyo and Beijing should cast aside minor differences to pursue common interests.

His comment, to a multipartisan group of young and mid-level Japanese lawmakers during a meeting here Aug. 18, was a clear indication of his country’s desire to mend soured ties with Tokyo.

“It is required for both Japan and China to lay minor differences aside and aim for unity on the main points,” Li told a delegation of the Japan-China next-generation exchange committee.

The group was led by Kiyohiko Toyama, a Lower House member of junior coalition partner New Komeito, and included Goshi Hosono, a Lower House member of the Democratic Party of Japan, the main opposition party.

Toyama and Hosono held a news conference the same day to explain how the meeting went.

Members said the group received a request from Beijing a week or so ago to prolong their stay in China so that “a meeting with a VIP” could be arranged. The group members said they had not asked the Chinese side to organize talks with a Chinese political leader.

It was the first time for Li to meet with incumbent Japanese lawmakers since he became vice president in March 2013.

According to the Japanese politicians, Li displayed a positive attitude toward improving bilateral relations, badly strained by a territorial row, among other issues.

“Having a strategic vision, we will emphasize the future development of the China-Japan relationship to the world,” Li was quoted as saying. “It is clear that economic and trade cooperation between China and Japan has receded. The public sentiment has been badly damaged.”

Li went on to cite “the lack of strategic mutual confidence between the two countries” as a cause for those problems.

The vice president reiterated Beijing’s stance that disputes exist between Tokyo and Beijing with regard to interpretations of shared history and the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Referring to a Japan-China summit meeting suggested by the Japanese side at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum scheduled for November, Li said, "We have to create a proper environment and atmosphere to remove political obstacles.”

When the Japanese lawmakers proposed that Beijing start working to establish mutual reporting systems as early as possible to remove the risk of a clash at sea or in the air, Li replied: “We have put a high priority on risk management in the sea and the air. We will be tackling the issue of enhanced communication aggressively.”

By NANAE KURASHIGE/ Correspondent
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Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

  • Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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