Envoy confirms Hu's plan for Japan visit

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 November, 2007, 12:00am

President Hu Jintao is planning a state visit to Japan next year - the first such trip by the nation's top leader in a decade, a Chinese diplomat confirmed yesterday.

'China is now actively preparing for President Hu Jintao's state visit to Japan next year,' China's new ambassador to Japan, Cui Tiankai, said.

'This will mark another visit by a Chinese head of state after 10 years, and it will certainly produce important and far-reaching consequences.'

Mr Cui added that both sides had to take advantage of such a 'turning point' to deepen mutual trust and co-operation, and properly deal with issues that the countries faced so that Sino-Japanese relations could develop in a healthy and stable way.

The confirmation by Mr Cui came a day after the first meeting between Premier Wen Jiabao and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda in Singapore.

Japan has often invited Mr Hu to visit Japan as the two countries have sought to ease long-standing tensions, and it was reported that Mr Fukuda had repeated the invitation when he met Mr Wen on Tuesday.

Sino-Japanese relations have fluctuated in recent years. While mutual ties were strained by the annual visits paid by former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, ties warmed after Shinzo Abe replaced Mr Koizumi last year and visited Beijing almost at once. Mr Wen's visit to Japan in April was also hailed as an 'ice-breaking' trip.

Li Guangmin, director of Qingdao University's Politics and International Studies Institute, said the meeting between Mr Wen and Mr Fukuda marked a good foundation on which Sino-Japanese relations could continue to develop.

'The meeting shows that Fukuda is willing to accept and continue the co-operation framework which Wen Jiabao and Shinzo Abe had agreed on before. Prior to this meeting, the Chinese side was concerned whether Fukuda would work under this framework,' Professor Li said.

Mr Wen and Mr Abe issued joint statements on boosting co-operation in economic, energy, environmental and other areas to build strategic ties during Mr Wen's visit to Japan.

While the Taiwan issue was also discussed during Tuesday's meeting, Professor Li pointed out that it remained an issue which the Chinese side would watch closely because of the importance that Mr Fukuda attached to Asian relations, including those with Taiwan.

'I expect both sides' relations will proceed in a stable way at least for a certain period of time,' he said.