Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled to pay a state visit to Japan on May 6-10. The visit, the first by a Chinese president to Japan in a decade, is widely seen as a move that will further promote China-Japan relations.
Hu's visit falls on the 30th anniversary of the signing of the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship, one of the three key political documents serving as the bedrock for developing friendly and cooperative ties between the two nations.
China and Japan, which are close neighbors separated by a narrow strip of water, have maintained friendly exchanges for more than 2,000 years in the past. In 1972, the two countries issued the Sino-Japanese Joint Statement and realized the normalization of their diplomatic relations. The two sides then signed the Peace and Friendship Treaty and the Sino-Japanese Joint Declaration in 1978 and 1998.
In the past few years, however, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, regardless of strong opposition at home and abroad, paid yearly visit to the Yasukuni Shrine where 14 Class A war criminals are honored.
The move has seriously hurt the feelings of the Chinese people. Political relations between the two countries have consequently become frosty for a period of time, with high-level visits between the two sides suspended and exchanges in various areas severely affected.
To tide over the difficult period in China-Japan relations, people from all walks of life in both countries who are committed to promoting the stable, long-term and friendly relations, have made unremitting efforts.
In October 2006, the then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid an "ice-breaking" visit to China. During his stay in China, the two countries agreed to foster mutually beneficial relations based on common strategic interests in a bid to realize "peaceful coexistence, friendship for generations, mutually beneficial cooperation and common development."
They also agreed to adhere to the principles prescribed in the three political documents, envisage history, look toward the future and properly handle the problems that hamper the development of bilateral ties, in an effort to keep the strong momentum of political and economic ties and promote China-Japan relations to a higher level.
In April 2007, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao paid a visit to Japan. Eight months later his Japanese counterpart Yasuo Fukuda visited China in return. The two visits, dubbed "ice-thawing" and "spring-heralding" tours, further clarified the basic principles and essence of their mutually beneficial relations based on common strategic interests.
China and Japan not only made arrangements for promoting personnel exchange including high-level visits as well as dialogue and exchange of opinions in various fields and at various levels, covering politics, economy, foreign relations, defense and culture; but also reached broad consensus on mutually beneficial cooperation in such fields as environmental protection, finance, energy, information and communications and high-tech.
Under these arrangements, the first China-Japan high-level economic dialogue was held in Beijing last December.
Cao Gangchuan, the then Chinese defense minister and vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, visited Japan last August, realizing the first visit to Japan by a Chinese defense minister in nearly a decade.
The "China-Japan Exchange Year of Culture and Sports" in 2007 and the "China-Japan Friendly Exchange Year of the Youth" in 2008 have also ushered in a new era in the cultural exchanges and exchanges between the younger generation of the two countries.
Cooperation in economy and trade has also made fresh headway. In 2007, two-way trade between the two countries increased by 13.8 percent year-on-year to 236 billion U.S. dollars. In the first three months of 2008, the figure reached 60.5 billion dollars, a surge of 14.3 percent over the same period of 2007.
Looking through the course of development of bilateral relations that are filled with twists and turns, China and Japan have come to realize that the two countries have become stakeholders who share vast common interests and are closely interdependent.
As Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao put it in his address to Japan's Diet, "Peace benefits while rifts hurt both," promotion of friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries conforms with the historical trend.
Hu's forthcoming visit to Japan is expected to benefit the good-neighborly cooperation between China and Japan and leave far-reaching influence on future development of China-Japan relations.
(Xinhua News Agency May 4, 2008)