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Mending Ties with Japan
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The Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) forum has always served an important venue for many world leaders to chat about the old days and also talk seriously about bilateral relations and areas of common concern.

Meetings on the sidelines of this important forum always attract media attention.

During the forum in Hanoi, Viet Nam, President Hu Jintao met with other leaders, such as US President George W. Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The diplomatic talks at the forum may not necessarily result in tangible bilateral agreements, however, the discussions can improve China's relations with these countries and make them operate more smoothly.

Hu's second meeting with Abe in the past two months is of great significance to the China-Japan relationship. The frequent talks between the two leaders show the success in repairing waning bilateral relations.

The dark clouds hovering over ties between the two major Asian nations were dispersed when Abe visited Beijing in October shortly after he became Japan's new prime minister.

The Hu-Abe meeting on the sideline of APEC forum presented another optimistic scene and clearly shows that China and Japan have resumed top-level talks. These discussions reflect the healthier state of the bilateral relations, which stagnated before Abe's China visit. Hu described the visit as a "turning point."

Their meeting in Hanoi drives home a clear signal the countries are willing to maintain the momentum of goodwill and the development of their ties.

They showed a common aspiration to improve the relationship. With a forward-looking and strategic vision on the ties, they are committed to building the bilateral relationship into one of peaceful co-existence, friendship for generations, co-operation of mutual benefit and common development.

The talks between the top leaders of the two countries are also crucial for building political trust. It serves as the bedrock on which their healthy relationship rests and grows.

The five-point proposals President Hu presented to Abe during their meeting will open up new opportunities for the China-Japan ties.
It is necessary for the two countries to chart the blueprint in which the bilateral relations should head for and how the friendship between the two peoples can develop.

Sensitive issues, such as Taiwan and the history of Japanese invasion still haunt the bilateral ties. They are closely related to the political foundation of the relationship.

Hu's recommendation for properly handling these issues is a testament to China's sincerity in improving its ties with Japan. The approach will prevent the bilateral relations from sliding to stalemate.

In their joint communique issued in Beijing in October, China and Japan agreed that their relations are one of the most important diplomatic arrangements for both.

More exchange programs between China and Japan are pending as next year marks the 35th anniversary of the normalization of the bilateral ties.

(China Daily November 20, 2006)


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