G8 summit invitation leads to possibility of return visit in July

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 May, 2008, 12:00am

President Hu Jintao could visit Japan again in July after Beijing said it would 'seriously consider' Tokyo's invitation to him to attend the Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido.

China News Service said Tokyo also proposed hosting a leadership summit involving Japan, China and South Korea in the autumn. It said China would consider the proposals and continue its 'strategic dialogues' with Japan.

For its part, Beijing has invited Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda to attend the seventh Asia-Europe Summit in October. CNS reported the Japanese side would seriously consider the invitation.

Meanwhile, the two countries have agreed to set up high-level military exchanges as the long-time rivals seek to ease suspicions between them.

A number of top People's Liberation Army generals - including a deputy chief of the army's general staff, air force commander General Xu Qiliang and navy commander Admiral Wu Shengli - would visit Japan this year. Japanese Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba would visit Beijing, while a fleet of Japanese warships would visit China in June, the report said.

The two sides had also agreed to set up a regular communication mechanism between the two navies 'as soon as possible'. The mechanism is aimed at preventing incidents from spiralling out of control through miscommunication.

The high-level military exchange is part of the agreements in the fourth joint communique issued by Mr Hu and Mr Fukuda this week.

China and Japan, the two major powers in East Asia, have been long-time rivals.

Beijing is suspicious of Japan's rearmament programme and its close link with Taiwan. Tokyo, in turn, is wary of the rapid modernisation of the mainland military.