Since the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and Japan in 1972, the ties between China and Japan have undergone constant development, the economic and trade relations and economic cooperation have maintained the momentum of steady growth. The official goodwill visit to be paid by Premier Zhu Rongji to Japan in October this autumn, which is a major event in Sino-Japanese relations at the turn of the century, will give further impetus to the development of the bilateral relations.
At the advent of the new century, Premier Zhu Rongji's planned visit to Japan in October, which is another major event in the ties between China and Japan, will spur Sino-Japanese relationship to advance in a down-to-earth manner along the direction set by the China-Japan Joint Declaration published at the end of 1998-the friendly and cooperative partnership devoted to peace and development.
As we review the 28-year development course since the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and Japan, we have found that although there have been twists and turns occurred from time to time, friendship and cooperation, however, has always been the mainstream, the present relations between the two countries are good, friendly exchange and cooperation in various fields have undergone significant development, reaching an all-time high both in breadth and in depth.
China and Japan are neighbors facing each other across the sea. In their exchanges over a period of 2,000 years, the two great nations of China and Japan have learned from and influence each other and jointly created splendid civilization of the East, the tremendous influence of ancient Chinese culture on Japan is today still infiltrating every corner of Japan. In modern times, Japanese militarism launched wars of aggression against China. When he was alive, Premier Zhou Enlai once observed this section of unfortunate past by placing it in the long history and briefly summarized Sino-Japanese relationship as "2,000 years of friendship and 50 years of confrontation". Our task is, in the spirit of "taking history as the mirror and looking forward to the future", to correctly treat history and constantly develop friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries.
The post-war international situation has been intricate and complicated, the sharp confrontation Cold War pattern, in particular, has put the Sino-Japanese relationship in an almost 'cut-off' state. During the period when Chinese-Japanese relationship was in difficulties, some friendly personages, fearing no hardship and danger, rushed about, shouting "Sino-Japanese friendship, never going to war again", which aroused widespread echo in various social circles. In October 1954, I followed the Chinese Red Cross Delegation in a visit to Japan, that was the first delegation visiting Japan after the founding of New China. Japanese newspapers all called the delegation the "Chinese communist delegation", making it seem that the delegation had come to Japan to propagate "revolutionary struggle". The delegation, however, held high the banner of Sino-Japanese friendship, everywhere we went, I saw with my own eyes that thousands upon thousands of people, holding the Five-star red flags, spontaneously accorded us a warm welcome, some people were so moved that tears filled their eyes, those images and scenes vividly show what a large patent energy Sino-Japanese friendship had among the Japanese people. Friendly personages and far-sighed statesmen have brought along Japanese people to continuously work for Sino-Japanese friendship and have experienced all sorts hardships and dangers, with civilians stimulating the officials, Prime Minister Tanaka's visit to China was finally realized in September 1972,and the Sino-Japanese Joint Statement was signed, bringing about normalization of diplomatic relations between China and Japan at one stroke. Six years later, and after traversing a tortuous course, in the second half of 1978, through Prime Minister Fukuda's decision and Foreign Minister Sonoda's tenacious efforts, the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship was concluded.
In the 70s, China and Japan established State relationship on the basis of genuine equality. The signing of the Sino-Japanese Joint Statement and the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship laid down the basic norms for guiding the relationship of the two countries, laying a political foundation for the relationship between the two countries. The good beginning made in the development of bilateral ties was inspiring. In the 80s, the friendship and cooperation between the two countries, after surmounting obstacles, gained all-round development in various official and unofficial fields. In the 90s, at the time of the 20th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relationship in 1992, President Jiang Zemin visited Japan in the first half of the year, and in the second half, Japanese Emperor Akihito visited China. This first visit by Japanese emperor in the 2,000-year history of exchanges between China and Japan is of major significance. Because of his social influence, the emperor's visit affected the feeling of the Japanese nationals. The highly successful visit not only enhanced the friendly relations between the two countries but also increased the Japanese nationals' sense of closeness to China. At the turn of the century in the late 90s, President Jiang Zemin visited Japan at the end of 1998 during which he published the Joint Declaration of great significance together with Japanese leaders, signed a 33-point pragmatic agreement on friendly cooperation, established the framework of Sino-Japanese relationship in the 21st century, charted the orientation for future development, thus ushering the relationship of the two countries into a new stage of development.
At present, the important topics placed before the two peoples of China and Japan are still the conscientious implementation of the important political common understanding and cooperative projects reached by President Jiang Zemin and the Japanese leader during his visit to Japan, work in this respect has progressed smoothly and phased results have been gained. The 28-year experiences gained in the normalization of Sino-Japanese diplomatic relations, boiled down in one point, is that both sides should strictly abide by the principles of the China-Japan Joint Statement, the Sino-Japanese Treaty of Peace and Friendship and the China-Japan Joint Declaration. When these are done, the relationship between the two countries can remove obstructions and ensure smooth development, otherwise, the bilateral relations will face troubles. It is believed that under the guidance of these three historic documents, the friendly, cooperative relationship between the two countries will definitely experience healthy and steady development in the new century.
Economic and trade, and scientific and technological cooperation is an important component of Sino-Japan relationship. On the basis of equality and mutual benefit, the two countries have become mutually dependent important trade partners. The total volume of trade between China and Japan is estimated to have new breakthroughs following the record high of US$66.2 billion scored last year. Japanese investment in China has undergone steady development. We highly evaluate the long-term preferential yen loans provided by the Japanese side to China in support of the modernization drive of our country. We will not forget Japanese support of China for an early entry into the WTO. Thus far, achievements have been gained in scientific and technological cooperation and greater efforts are required for this. Close economic and trade cooperation will promote the development of the political relations between the two countries, satisfactory political ties between the two countries will, in turn, give strong impetus to economic and trade cooperation.
In his speech given last May, President Jiang Zemin stressed, "Sino-Japanese friendship, in the last analysis, is friendship between the two peoples", Looking into the future, we place hope on the two peoples for the Sino-Japanese friendship in the 21st century, and all the more on the young people of the two nations". This speech has evoked strong repercussions from various social sectors because it voiced the aspirations of the two peoples. We should carry forward the tradition featuring Sino-Japanese people-to-people friendship and make great effort to strengthen work in this aspect, expand contacts between the two peoples, particularly between the young statesmen of the two countries and we should work hard to train successors to the Sino-Japanese cause of friendship. With successors of one generation after another, the development of the cause of Sino-Japanese friendship will have a sure guarantee.
Facts have proved that friendship between China and Japan is in the interests of the two countries and the two peoples, benefits the future generations, and facilitates regional stability and development. Let's make joint efforts to meet the challenges of the new century. The slogan, "Let the Chinese and Japanese peoples be friends from generation to generation" earlier raised by Premier Zhou Enlai, has gone deep into the hearts of the people. We should look forward to the future, and we should work hard in a down-to-earth manner for the realization of our lofty objective of Sino-Japan friendship in the 21st century and in future generations to come.
The author of this article Yang Zhenya is chief member on the Chinese side of the 21st Century Committee for Sino-Japan Friendship.
(Peoples’ Daily 09/30/2000)