The Foreign Ministry said yesterday that China hopes Japan will continue its peaceful development.
The Japanese government formally upgraded its Defense Agency to a full ministry yesterday during a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and new Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma.
"We hope that, regardless of governmental structural changes, Japan continues on the road of peaceful development," ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a regular news briefing.
This conformed with Japan's fundamental interests, and benefited regional peace and development, he added.
Regarding the visit to Japan of Chinese leaders, Liu said an agenda would be arranged through diplomatic channels, adding that the Chinese government is positive about strengthening high-level visits between the two countries.
Both sides agreed to resume high-level visits during Abe's Beijing visit last October.
Liu said bilateral relations have improved since Abe's visit with both sides consulting on appropriate next steps.
"This year marks the 35th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral ties. We hope to take this opportunity to drive forward the friendship between the two countries and the development of China-Japan relations," he added.
Responding to a media report that Taku Yamasaki, former vice president of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), departed for Pyongyang yesterday, Liu said China encourages Japan and North Korea to strengthen contacts.
He said China is always positive toward any contact or communication between Japan and North Korea to improve their ties.
China hopes the two countries can continue stepping up bilateral contacts to further enhance mutual trust, Liu said, adding that the improvement of Japan-North Korea ties is conducive to peace and stability in East Asia.
Yamasaki's visit comes as relations between the two countries have been deadlocked due to North Korea's nuclear test last year and the dispute over North Korea's abduction of Japanese nationals.
China also hopes North Korea and the US will reach a consensus on their financial issues at an early date thus removing obstructions to the six-party talks as well as the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Liu said.
He called upon the relevant sides to discover common interest and acceptable solutions on the Korean nuclear issue so as to make the early resumption of the six-party talks.
The second phase of the fifth-round six-party talks, involving China, the US, Japan, Russia, North and South Korea, was concluded last December in Beijing.
Liu confirmed that the US president's special envoy to Sudan, Andrew Natsios, is paying a visit to China from January 9 to 12, to exchange views with the Chinese side on the Darfur issue.
Like the US, China has paid close attention to the Darfur issue, Liu said, adding that he hoped all relevant sides would seize the opportunity to try properly handling the issue through consultations and dialogues.
China will continue to play constructive role in this regard, he said.
Commenting on the US State Department's recent declaration to sanction three Chinese companies for selling embargoed weapons to relevant countries, Liu said China is strongly opposed to the US government's sanctions, demanding it "correct the wrong act."
The US State Department announced the sanctions last week on China National Electronics Import & Export Corporation (CEIEC), China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation and Zibo Chemet Equipment Co Ltd, accusing them of selling embargoed weapons.
Liu said the Chinese government has always been resolutely against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in any form, by any company or individual.
"The US government has no grounds to impose the sanctions in accordance with its domestic law without any proof," he added.
Three Russian companies were also blacklisted, and Moscow accused the US on Saturday of imposing illegal sanctions.
After police in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region reported on Monday that they had killed 18 terrorists and arrested 17 others during a Friday raid on a training camp of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), Liu said: "A large amount of evidence, including material that we got from this raid, shows that the ETIM is connected with international terrorist forces and was planning violent terrorist activities in China."
He stated that China's crackdown on terrorism not only protects local people but also safeguards the stability and security of Xinjiang and its neighboring countries and regions.
The ETIM was labeled by the UN in 2002 as a terrorist organization, and according to Xinhua News Agency, over 1,000 of its members are believed to have received training from Al-Qaida.
Official data also shows that the group plotted over 200 violent incidents, including explosions, assassinations, arson, poisonings and assaults in Xinjiang and in other countries between 1990 and 2001, killing 162 people and injuring 440.
In another development, Liu refuted criticism on China's so-called "dollar diplomacy" in Africa, saying economic means would never be used as persuasion in seeking diplomatic recognition by other countries.
He made the remarks in response to Taiwanese media reports that accused the mainland of winning diplomatic recognition in Africa through trade and loans.
"China has all along been developing diplomatic relations with other countries, including the African countries, based on equality, mutual benefit and respect," he noted.
Turning to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's current visit to China, Liu said the two sides would exchange views on issues of common concern, including the Middle East issue and the Iranian nuclear issue.
"China attaches importance to Olmert's visit, and we are looking forward to discussions on consolidating friendly relations between the two countries," he said.
Olmert arrived in Beijing yesterday morning for a three-day visit, his first since taking office in May.
Liu announced that Wang Guangtao, minister of construction, will attend the presidency handover ceremony of Ecuador as the special envoy of the Chinese government.
Rafael Correa won the presidential election in November and will take office on January 15.
Also according to Liu, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov will visit China from January 15 to 21 at the invitation of President Hu Jintao, and Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU commissioner for external relations and neighborhood policy, will visit from January 16 to 18 at the invitation of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing.
(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily January 10, 2007)