China said that the Japanese government is "indisputably" responsible for the adoption of a history textbook that whitewashes Japan's wartime past, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a regular press conference on Thursday in Beijing.
Local education authorities in the east Japan city of Otawara decided on Tuesday to adopt a history textbook compiled by a right-wing group at a total of 12 municipal junior high schools.
The textbook "tries to weaken and evade the political and moral responsibility Japan should take for its wartime aggression war," Liu said.
"It even tries in vain to overturn its history of aggression," Liu added.
Otawara is the first municipal government in Japan to adopt history and civics studies textbooks compiled by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, and published by Fusosha Publishing Inc.
"The entry of this kind of textbook into the classroom cannot but mislead and poison the mind of the Japanese juvenile," Liu said.
Relations with Japan took a turn for the worse yesterday when the Japanese government awarded local firm, Teikoku Oil Co., test-drilling rights in a disputed area of the East China Sea.
"It is true that China and Japan have disputes over the demarcation of East China Sea, but this issue should be solved through negotiations," Liu said. "If Japan is bent on doing such things, it constitutes a challenge to China's rights of sovereignty and makes the situation in the East China Sea more complicated," he added.
Japanese Trade Minister Shoichi Nakagawa pledged yesterday that the government would provide full support to Teikoku's test-drilling. "Since we gave drilling rights, I expect (Teikoku) to proceed," Nakagawa told a news conference, according to Kyodo news.
In EU-related news, Liu again called for the European Union (EU) to recognize China's full market economy status.
"That is not only a simple economic or a technical issue, but also one that requires political decision-making," Liu added.
Commenting on the upcoming six-party nuclear talks, Liu said that China welcomes any proposal that will help facilitate the process.
The Republic of Korea (ROK), for example, is willing to provide electricity aid directly to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) if the latter agrees to abandon its nuclear program, the ROK Unification Minister Chung Dong-young said on Tuesday.
The first round of six-party talks was launched on August 27, 2003 at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in downtown Beijing.
But after the third round of the talks, the DPRK announced its decision to suspend its participation in the talks, citing the US policy of hostility as a reason for the pull-out.
However, the DPRK last Saturday announced that it will return to nuclear disarmament talks in the week of July 25, after a 13-month boycott.
When asked what form the next round of talks will take, Liu said it is "not important."
"What is important is how we can ensure we achieve real progress," Liu said.
Moving on to other matters, Liu expressed China's opposition to Israel's building of a separation wall, which it said would only deepen the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The building of the separation wall goes against the efforts of the international community and the two sides concerned to promote peace in the region, Liu said.
The Israeli cabinet decided on Sunday to set September 1 as the completion date for the building of a barrier around Jerusalem, whose status remains disputed.
Israel insists that the barrier will help fend off Palestinian militant attacks on Israeli targets while the Palestinians see it as a land grab.
On state visits, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero will pay an official visit to China from July 21 to 23 at the invitation of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
"China and Spain will also sign a number of cooperation agreements involving economy, trade and culture. We will also organize activities like seminars on economy and trade," Liu added.
Bilateral trade volume reached US$7.223 billion last year. The figure for the first five months of this year reached US$3.981 billion, up 48.3 percent year-on-year.
Liu also announced that the Foreign Minister of Papua New Guinea, Rabbie Namaliu will pay an official visit to China from July 17 to 24 at the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing.
(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily July 15, 2005)