China and Japan have agreed to hold more dialogues to manage their rising tensions despite a heated exchange between the senior officials on the subject of Taiwan . During a seven-hour meeting in Tianjin on Wednesday, Yang Jiechi, China’s foreign policy chief, told Japanese national security adviser Takeo Akiba that Taiwan was an inseparable part of China, while Akiba expressed concern about Beijing’s military exercises . State news agency Xinhua described the talks as candid, in-depth and constructive – a diplomatic formula that usually signals a heated exchange. It is the first senior political dialogue between the two nations since 2020. “Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The Taiwan question concerns the political foundation of China-Japan relations and the basic trust between the two countries,” Yang said, according to the report. Yang said the Japanese side should focus on the fundamental long-term interests of the two nations and their people and work to really understand China, adding that Tokyo should properly manage differences with Beijing. Beijing sees Taiwan as breakaway territory and most countries, including Japan, do not recognise the self-governed island as an independent state. However, Japan along with the United States and many other countries, opposes any attempt to take back the island by force. Beijing staged high-profile military drills against Taiwan in retaliation for a visit to the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi , blockading the island and firing 11 DF series missiles. China, Japan at turning point as cold politics put hot economics to the test According to the Japanese Kyodo news agency, Akiba laid out Japan’s stance on the Taiwan Strait tensions to Yang, expressing concerns about five Chinese missiles falling into Japan’s exclusive economic zone . He also echoed Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in “condemning and protesting” against Beijing’s recent show of military might, according to Agence France-Presse, which cited an unnamed official from Japan’s National Security Secretariat, which Akiba heads. China had earlier said there was no exclusive economic zone in the waters where the missiles landed because the two nations had not agreed on the limits. Akiba and Yang also discussed a perennial controversy over the long-running dispute of the Diaoyu Islands – also known as the Senkakus – in the East China Sea, according to the official. Relations between China and Japan have plunged, with Tokyo growing more vocal about Beijing’s military deployments and alleged human rights violations, while Beijing sees Tokyo as being more aligned with the US. A meeting between the foreign ministers of China and Japan on the sidelines of a regional forum in Cambodia this month was cancelled after the Group of 7 slammed Beijing for its military drills against Taiwan. The Chinese foreign ministry said the G7, of which Japan is a member, had no right to comment on the Taiwan issue. But both Yang and Akiba said it was important for the two nations to step up high-level talks. Yang said both nations should “stay focused and avoid internal and external interference” in managing their bilateral relations. “Facing the complex situation in the world, the regional and global significance of China-Japan relations has become more prominent,” Yang was quoted as saying. Akiba and Yang agreed on the importance of face-to-face dialogue and multilevel communication, Kyodo reported. US-Japan-South Korea joint defence drills held amid China, Pyongyang threats Chinese President Xi Jinping had a phone conversation with Kishida in October in which Xi said the two nations should “properly handle major and sensitive issues”, such as grievances over the history of World War II and Taiwan. Kishida said maintaining stable bilateral relations was important for the region and the international community, but that Japan would “say what needs to be said” regarding China’s perceived shortcomings in upholding human rights and the rule of law. Liu Jiangyong, a Japanese affairs specialist at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said the high-level security talks were “timely” and “a good starting point”. “It remains a major test for Tokyo to define its relations with China in Japan’s forthcoming National Security Strategy later this year,” he said. “I think the Tianjin talks are just a beginning. In the coming weeks, the Kishida government is likely to engage with China at various levels, through government officials, media, think tanks and academics.” Liu said Tokyo, which appeared unsure how to approach China, had three options in the face of the US-China rivalry: align more closely with the US, drive wedges between the two to advance its own regional ambitions or try to act as a mediator. But he said the last scenario, which Beijing might prefer, was “not very likely” at the moment. “Unlike the US, Japan has territorial disputes with China over the Diaoyu Islands and it tends to view Taiwan as being linked with its own national security. For China, Japan – along with the US – has effectively become the biggest obstacle on the Taiwan question,” he said.