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Economic Ties 'Key to Sino-Japanese Relations'

Sino-Japanese relations may be at a low ebb politically, but on the economic front ties are developing apace.


That was the view put forward by Long Yongtu, secretary-general of the Boao Forum for Asia, yesterday in Beijing.


"Economic ties are increasing and deepening even though political relations are experiencing some turbulence," Long said, noting that bilateral trade volume reached a record high last year.


"I think this is grounds for optimism. Economic ties will become stronger and stronger," he said.


Citing the revival of the Japanese economy and China's solid annual growth of 8 to 9 percent, Long said the current situation bodes well for future growth of economic relations.


Long and his co-panelists discussed "the problems and prospects of Sino-Japanese ties" during a two-day Beijing-Tokyo Forum, which concluded yesterday in the Chinese capital.


Long said he strongly opposed politicizing economic ties, and called on the two sides to treasure the current hard-earned business ties.


Foreign direct investment from Japan in China is increasing dramatically, he said, a shift expected to eventually smooth bilateral political ties because it will lead to increasing numbers of Japanese people working and living in China and coming to better understand the country.


"Economic cooperation should function as a mediator and buffer when diplomatic relations are in trouble and help promote comprehensive communication between the two sides," said Long.


According to Long, as major oil buyers, China and Japan share common interests, and the oil sector is one where more progress can be made.


Long's remarks were echoed by Xu Dunxin, former Chinese ambassador to Japan, who said he was cautiously optimistic about ties.


Xu called on the two sides to establish a mechanism to seek cooperation instead of competition in the field of energy, urging the two to shelve disputes over energy exploitation in the East China Sea.


Although it is 60 years since the end of World War II, political relations are far from smooth, with exchanges between top leaders put on hold and China protesting Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 Class-A WWII war criminals are honored.


Xu said he hoped Koizumi would back his August 15 statement, in which he apologized for past aggression and said he seeks to improve ties with neighbors, with actions.


In examining ties, the forum agreed the media in both countries are playing an unprecedented role in shaping relations.


The Beijing-Tokyo Forum was jointly held by China Daily, School of International Study of Peking University and Genron NPO of Japan,


Next year's forum is expected to be held in Tokyo.


(China Daily August 25, 2005)


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