The best way to resolve Sino-Japanese tension was for both countries' top leaders to develop good personal relationships, Ezra Vogel, emeritus professor of social sciences at Harvard University, said yesterday in a lecture at Chinese University.
He said President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should learn from their predecessors in the 1960s and 1970s and abandon their political disagreements.
"The most important thing is the development of personal relationships between Japanese and Chinese high-level leaders," said Vogel, who is fluent in Mandarin and Japanese.
He said Xi and Abe should find ways to explain to their people "why and how they should give concessions to each other".
One thing they could do immediately was to reach an agreement to avoid a potential crisis, Vogel said, with Beijing and Tokyo sending fewer patrol ships and planes to waters near disputed islands in the East China Sea.
To rebuild a foundation for people of both countries to improve ties, Vogel suggested that Chinese propagandists refrain from creating a narrative about Japan being "a key enemy".
He also criticised Japanese right-wing groups for denying the Nanking Massacre.