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Thawing Bilateral Ties
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After a cold spell, Sino-Japanese relations are warming again.

China and Japan are working hard to keep the momentum that their relations have gathered since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to China on October 8-9.

Abe's China trip has been followed by surprisingly frequent contacts between the two countries.

A delegation from the House of Councilors of the National Diet of Japan - headed by its president, Ogi Chikage - is in China for three-day discussions with the National People's Congress of China (NPC). They are the guests of Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC.

Wang Jiarui, director of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, left for Tokyo for the second round of exchanges between the ruling parties of the two countries. Members of his delegation are expected to have heart-to-heart talks with their Japanese counterparts, including the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komei Party. The meeting is part of the Sino-Japanese ruling parties' exchange mechanism, which was initiated in 2004 and formally launched in February of this year.

Such a frequent exchange of visits between high-raking officials of the two countries, which began shortly after Abe's China trip, will solidify the consensus reached by their leaders at their summit.

The trip symbolized the thaw of the deadlocked China-Japan political relationship and opened the window of hope for a better one between the two neighbors.

China and Japan were of the same view that they should overcome the political obstacles hampering the development of bilateral relations and promote the development of friendly and co-operative ties.

They agreed that their relations are one of their most important bilateral arrangements.

More contacts between the two countries, at both the official and person-to-person levels, will help them understand each other better.

Ogi Chikage is the first President of the House of Councilors of the National Diet of Japan to visit China in seven years, since former president Saito Juro's trip in 1999. Chikage's discussions with her Chinese counterparts, which ran from Sunday through Tuesday, focus on initiating more exchanges between members of the two parliaments.

It is expected that China and Japan will deliberate in Tokyo on a wide range of issues, such as historical studies and approaches to co-operation.

However, it is unrealistic to predict that a round of meetings will shoot all the problems, especially the controversy of the Yasukuni Shrine.

There are still some historical and practical factors that are likely to constitute obstacles to a smooth development of bilateral ties in the future.

China has been inviting leaders of Japan's LDP, Democratic Party, Socialist Democratic Party and Communist Party to this land this year. These visits have added a wealth of building blocks to the development of China-Japan relations.

(China Daily October 17, 2006)

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