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Important Talks
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For the eighth time, China and Japan put their heads together yesterday to discuss East China Sea issues.

Beijing and Tokyo have been taking turns to host the talks.

The two countries have tried to pursue consultation on this issue and seek mutually acceptable solutions.

Before leaving for a visit to Japan in April, Premier Wen Jiabao said that China hoped to make the East China Sea a "place of peace, friendship and co-operation."

China has come up with a proposal on the joint exploration of the area.

The issue of the East China Sea is of key concern for the two countries.

This part of the world is thought to contain up to 100 billion barrels of oil. The figure means a lot to both. It is believed to be one of the last unexplored high-potential resource areas close to large markets.

The boundary dispute has prevented the development of oil and gas in much of the area.

Both sides have long been divided over the demarcation of the continental shelf of the East China Sea.

To settle the issue, China has proposed the principle of shelving disputes and conducting joint exploration.

Japan, however, drew a "median line" without consulting China. It has unilaterally demarcated a controversial exclusive economic zone along the line, which sits on the Chinese side of the continental shelf and to which China enjoys exclusive rights.

With the talks taking place, there are factors that will help the two countries ameliorate their dispute and work out a sensible solution.

A positive China-Japan relationship has been in place since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office. This is important for the two to solve their disputes.

China and Japan have agreed to peacefully resolve the issue of the East China Sea in line with the consensus reached by their leaders during their summit in Jakarta in 2005.
Again, President Hu Jintao and Japanese Prime Minister Abe agreed in Beijing in October to work towards joint development.

This consensus should serve as a foundation for moving bilateral talks forward.

(China Daily May 26, 2007)

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