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Progress on Sino-Japanese relations creates conditions to resolve East China Sea issue
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Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei said in Beijing on Thursday that progress on relations between China and Japan since 2007 had created the necessary conditions for the two nations to reach consensus and understanding on the East China Sea dispute.

"Some sensitive issues can be easily resolved as bilateral relations improve, and I believe if we can make a breakthrough on the East China Sea issue, we will also be able to address other complex and sensitive issues between the two nations," Wu told a press briefing after a regular press conference.

The governments of China and Japan announced on Wednesday that both sides had reached a principled consensus on the East China Sea dispute.

The consensus contained several key elements: the two sides will conduct cooperation in the transitional period prior to delimitation without prejudicing their legal positions; both sides jointly take the first step to conduct joint development on the northern part of the East China Sea.

China and Japan are separated by the East China Sea, which acts like a bridge for the two peoples to learn from each other and to conduct exchanges.

Under the current law of the sea, there emerged complicated disputes over maritime rights between the two countries, and the East China Sea dispute became an increasingly apparent sore on bilateral relations.

The stalemate in Sino-Japanese relations was broken in October 2006, and leaders of the two countries exchanged "ice-breaking", "ice-thawing", "spring-herald" and "warm spring" visits in succession.

"China supports Japan's choice of the path of peaceful development and Japan also backs China's peaceful development efforts, which is a very important consensus," Wu said, adding that the two nations also agreed to properly resolve bilateral issues through consultations, which is also a very important common understanding.

Wu noted that he had already witnessed the historical changes in the Sino-Japanese relationship after Chinese president Hu Jintao paid a successful state visit to Japan this May.

Wu said he had a personal feeling that the two sides since then were able to conduct better communications and exchange views on hot issues.

"After China suffered a 8.0-magnitude strong earthquake on May 12, the first foreign rescue team and the first medical team both came from Japan, and the Japanese government donated twice with relief fund and materials, which reflects the improvement in bilateral relations," Wu told reporters.

Wu said that the settlement of sensitive issues is a very important precondition to foster relations between nations. However, he stressed that some historical issues like sovereignty dispute between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Island should be addressed step by step, warning that any rush toward a resolution without mature consideration would damage the relationship.

(Xinhua News Agency June 20, 2008)

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