China has proposed to Japan that the two countries jointly develop a controversial offshore gas field. The suggestion was aimed at dealing with Tokyo's complaint over a mainland consortium's construction of a new natural gas rig in the East China Sea near Japan's exclusive economic zone, Japanese officials said. Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing made the proposal to Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi in Qingdao , where they are scheduled to attend a regional ministerial conference today to address a range of Asian issues. His remarks came after Ms Kawaguchi asked for an explanation about the consortium's drilling project, the officials said. Tokyo has repeatedly asked Beijing for details, but been dissatisfied with the response. In their meeting, Ms Kawaguchi expressed concern that the project could infringe on Japan's rights as it could draw gas from the Japanese side of the line dividing the two countries' exclusive economic zones. Ms Kawaguchi asked for a prompt explanation of the details of the project, the officials said. Mr Li then suggested that Japan and China put their differences aside and think about engaging in a joint development project in the area, they said. But the Japanese foreign minister demanded that Beijing first provide details about the project, saying that without the information they cannot move forward on the matter. Mr Li simply suggested the two sides continued contact with each other, the officials said. The mainland consortium is constructing a new drilling facility near the intermediate line. Although the drilling facility in question is being built in Chinese waters to the west of the line, Japan is concerned that resources in Japanese territory to the east could be taken out through underground pipes. On other issues, Mr Li and Mr Kawaguchi agreed to consider a visit to Japan by State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan as a means to foster top-level exchanges between their countries, the officials said.