Contacts on an unprecedented scale between China and Japan this year are conclusive evidence of the two neighbors' closeness on the 30th anniversary of the normalization of their diplomatic relations.
Both sides have held activities, and an exchange of visits has been made by people from various circles of the two countries.
A delegation of 13,000 Japanese from all walks of life -- the largest ever civilian contingent to visit China -- arrived in Beijing for a grand celebration on September 22. The visit reflects the goodwill of the Japanese people in cementing friendship with China.
A large number of Chinese people were reciprocally invited to Japan to join the celebrations in Tokyo.
Local governments from both sides have also been active. More than 250 Chinese cities have established friendship ties with their Japanese counterparts.
Frequent people-to-people contacts, which preceded the two governments' efforts to normalize diplomatic relations in 1972, continue to act as glue in consolidating ties.
The relationship between China and Japan has become one of the most important for both nations.
When celebrating the 30th anniversary, we should take this opportunity to salute all those who have made efforts to pave the way for better relations.
China and Japan normalized diplomatic relations in September 1972 after Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka visited China. This was followed by a long-term trade agreement in February 1978 and a treaty of peace and friendship in August that year.
The present relationship between Japan and China is based on two documents: the 1972 Sino-Japanese Joint Statement, which formed the basis of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and the 1978 Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which committed the countries "to develop relations of perpetual peace and friendship between the two countries on the basis of the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful co-existence."
When President Jiang Zemin paid an official visit to Japan in November 1998, the two countries issued a China-Japan Joint Declaration on Building a Partnership of Friendship and Cooperation for Peace and Development and a 33-article Joint Press Announcement on Strengthening Cooperation between China and Japan towards the 21st Century.
The two documents spelt out the action program for the two countries to achieve their common objectives.
In past decades, these landmark documents have laid the foundation for the healthy development of bilateral relations. The two sides have reached consensus that to strengthen and develop friendly and cooperative relations between them not only serves the fundamental interests of their peoples, but also contributes to peace and development in the Asia-Pacific region and the world. These documents should continue to be the lighthouse for further development of bilateral relations.
The economies of China and Japan -- the two largest in Asia -- have become highly complementary. Japan has been China's largest trading partner for the past eight consecutive years, and China is the second largest of Japan. A better relationship between the two nations will definitely have a strong impact on the prosperity and stability of the region as a whole.
Despite the fact that the desire to develop good relations has been the main trend of the times, mistrust also lingers from time to time between the two countries and some problems remain unsolved.
Now and then we hear harsh sounds and see irresponsible acts by a few in Japan, whose denial of the criminal past of Japanese militarists has irritated its neighbors.
History is not an issue that Japan can and should bypass. Only by facing its history, especially the darkest chapters, squarely can Japan win the hearts of once-victimized countries.
There are also some concerns in Japan over Japan's economic recession and China's economic growth. The "China threat" assertion is both unsubstantiated and irresponsible. The reality is that Japan has benefited from its economic ties with China and momentum will surely continue to benefit both countries.
It is our belief that the people of China and Japan will cherish and continuously push forward the friendship and cooperative partnership they have so far established, although the road ahead may be bumpy at times. A better relationship will require far-sightedness and greater efforts of the leaders and peoples of the two countries.
(China Daily September 30, 2002)