The leader of China’s largest state-owned conglomerate has called for a forum of regular dialogue between Japanese and Chinese industry executives to improve bilateral relations.
Chang Zhenming, chairman of CITIC Group investment company, made clear he thought that politics and business should be kept separate, especially at a time when bilateral relations are strained by a dispute over the Senkaku Islands.
“Cooperation between the business communities of the two nations is important,” Chang said in a recent interview with The Asahi Shimbun. “Exchanges are necessary between Japanese and Chinese companies.”
The 56-year-old Chang is among a delegation of 11 top executives from 10 major Chinese corporations visiting Tokyo. They arrived for a five-day visit on Sept. 24.
Asked about the impact of deteriorating relations on business activities, Chang said, “(The worsening of relationships) will inevitably affect both sides. But many Chinese companies believe that private-sector exchanges are important.”
China already has bilateral exchanges between private companies in the United States, Europe, Australia and other countries. Chang said Japan and China should set up a similar framework.
Chang and other executives are expected to meet with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, other senior government officials and former prime ministers during their stay. They will also hold talks with executives of Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives) as well as Mizuho Financial Group Inc., Nomura Securities Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and other Japanese companies.
The delegation includes Gao Xiqing, president of China Investment Corp., and Liang Wengen, chairman of major construction equipment manufacturer Sany Heavy Industry Co.
Chang's CITIC Group was founded in 1979 by the government to acquire overseas funds and technologies. China was moving toward economic reform and an open-door policy at the time.
According to sources, the Chinese mission was organized because many Japanese and Chinese industry executives said private-sector exchanges, including those in the enterprise sector, should be promoted separately from politics.
The Chinese government apparently gave its approval to the delegation with hopes that the mission will help improve bilateral economic relations.
Executives of Japanese companies also plan to visit China in the near future.
The Japan-China Economic Association, headed by Toyota Motor Corp. Chairman Fujio Cho, will send a mission comprising about 100 people in November. The organization is currently working to secure an appointment with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
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