Dialogue to pave way for closer ties with Japan

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 November, 2007, 12:00am

China and Japan will open their first high-level economic dialogue in Beijing on Saturday, focusing on macroeconomic issues, energy conservation and environmental protection, the Ministry of Commerce announced yesterday.

One international relations analyst said the countries were hoping the talks, the fruit of Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Japan in April, would pave the way for better communication on economic, financial and environmental issues and become a key mechanism in the strategic relationship.

'The dialogue is a good systematic arrangement. A regular system will be impervious to any personnel change in the two countries,' Tsinghua University professor Liu Xiangyong said. 'The number of firm components in Sino-Japanese relations is increasing.'

The dialogue would feature talks between officials led by Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan and Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura, said Ministry of Commerce spokesman Yao Shenhong .

Lu Kejian , the ministry's Asia department director, said China would explain its macroeconomic policies, plans to boost domestic demand and pursuit of sustainable development. It would also push co-operation with Japan in environmental protection, seek understanding of product quality standards to ease trade friction and urge Japan to loosen grips on hi-tech exports.

'There are pressing issues in bilateral economic and trade co-operation,' Mr Lu said. 'For example, Japan should recognise China's market economic status. China is willing to solve the problems through friendly dialogue.'

The dialogue will also cover intellectual property rights protection, food safety, climate change and transparency in fiscal policies, the ministry said. Japan was likely to push China to make progress in those areas, Professor Liu said. 'The dialogue is expected to be carried out in a friendly mannerThey will reach agreements in big directions, and disagreements on concrete issues will remain. It's impossible to solve the problems in one dialogue.'

Sino-Japanese relations have fluctuated in recent years. Ties were strained by former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi's annual visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, but 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.

In Singapore last week during the first meeting between Mr Wen and Yasuo Fukuda, who replaced Mr Abe in late September, Mr Wen appealed to Mr Fukuda to seize the opportunities presented by warming ties, saying relations were at an 'important turning point'.

President Hu Jintao is planning a visit to Japan next year.

Down to business

Despite a chequered history of ties, trade between the mainland and Japan has grown. Japanese exports to the mainland in October showed a year-on-year rise of: 19.2%