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Lively Views Exchanged on Relations
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Frank and heated exchanges on Sino-Japanese relations and the future of Asia marked discussions between Chinese university students and Japanese guests at the third Beijing-Tokyo Forum yesterday.

Zhao Qizheng (left), vice-chairman of the subcommittee of foreign affairs of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, talks with Yuji Miyamoto, Japanese Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to China, during a seminar in Peking University held as part of the Beijing-Tokyo Forum which opened on August 28, 2007.

At Peking University, opinion makers from the two countries held candid debates on bilateral ties and their effect on the continent during a discussion on China-Japan Strategic Relationship of Mutual Benefit and the Future of Asia.

The sparks of good ideas brought about by the suggestions can, in turn, promote development of common interests, said Zhao Qizheng, vice-chairman of the subcommittee of foreign affairs of the National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

The annual forum convened at a time when bilateral ties are warming after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ice-breaking visit to China last year and Premier Wen Jiabao's ice-thawing return visit this year.

Deputy Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo said the two countries should cherish the hard-won thaw in bilateral ties and maintain the momentum in promoting rapport.

Growing interaction and collaboration will benefit both, he added, expressing the hope that mutual understanding will be enhanced through extensive dialogue on topics of mutual concern.

Metaphorically describing China-Japan ties as a vehicle which should be driven carefully, Zhao said in a keynote speech that the growth of bilateral relationship is irreversible because improving Sino-Japanese relations accord with the aspirations of the two peoples, interdependence of the two economies is increasing and the neighbors' ties are also a global concern.

Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng said: "Cultural exchanges play a key role in civil communication. Culture, which softens things silently like water, is actually strong and the basis of relations between countries," he explained.

Japanese Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to China Yuji Miyamoto said it is the neighbors' shared responsibility to contribute to peace and development of Asia and the world at large.

It would be empty talk to discuss Asian co-existence without the active participation of the two, he said.

He applauded the forum for serving as a venue for direct exchanges.

It is also imperative for the two sides to rebuild trust, which he said is important to state-to-state relations and person-to-person contacts.

The forum mainly focused on the existing state of Sino-Japanese relations and the future of Asia, said Yasushi Kudo of Japan's Genron NPO, a forum sponsor along with China Daily and Peking University.

Zhu Ling, editor-in-chief of China Daily, said media in the two countries could work together to help improve bilateral relations.

Objective reporting will help the Chinese and the Japanese get a clearer picture of each other, which is key to maintaining the momentum of promoting bilateral ties, Zhu said.

Active support for the forum from the two countries' influential figures in the political arena, the media, and business and culture, heralded a good beginning for second-track diplomacy between China and Japan.

Other topics discussed yesterday at the two-day forum were defense and security in Asia, economic collaboration, global warming and the role of the media.

(China Daily August 29, 2007)

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