Wen Jiabao

The view from China: Cautious optimism over thawing of ties

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 April, 2007, 12:00am

State media yesterday applauded Premier Wen Jiabao for his 'ice-breaking' achievements during his landmark visit to Japan, but were only cautiously optimistic in their editorials about prospects for further development in ties between the two countries.

Almost every mainstream media outlet devoted generous coverage to Mr Wen's human touches - such as his tai chi moves with early morning exercisers - but there was much less analysis of the trip's overall impact.

One of the exceptions was the People's Daily.

'[The trip] told us that improving Sino-Japanese ties is not just empty talk,' a commentary in the newspaper's overseas edition said yesterday. '[Because] one of Premier Wen's achievements was that both countries reached a consensus on the need for a fundamental spirit and basic thoughtfulness [to advance] mutual strategic relations.'

The editorial said the international atmosphere also seemed favourable to the development of Sino-Japanese relations because the US and many other countries hoped both parties would reconcile.

'Indeed, the common interests of the global economy, regional integration and non-traditional security field all help further development of the two countries.' It also reminded readers that this year was the 70th anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident and the Nanking Massacre, and suggested both countries work together to head off any attempts by the Japanese right wing to create bad feelings.

In the capital, only the Beijing News published a high-profile editorial. It stressed the two countries needed stable ties, but warned that painful history should be dealt with 'properly'.

'The next five to 10 years will be an extremely important period for China,' the editorial said. 'A good, stable Sino-Japanese relationship will help China avoid unnecessary risks and crises, and exploit its development potential even further.

'While facing the future, the two countries should squarely confront their history. By properly handling the history issue, they will be able to move towards a new spring,' it said.

The China Daily pointed to the strategic logic behind Sino-Japanese rapprochement. 'Rapid economic development has made China a growing presence on the world stage, while Japan is ambitious to play a bigger political role in international affairs,' it said.

After Mr Wen recounted the case of Marshal Nie Rongzhen , who rescued and looked after a four-year-old Japanese orphan in 1940, Kyodo Media asked Mihoko Kakoi, now a 70-year-old housewife, what she thought of being mentioned.

'I am so touched by Premier Wen's speech in the parliament,' Mrs Kakoi said. 'I will continue to contribute to Japan-Sino relations.'