Beijing-Tokyo ties deserve brighter future
Editor’s note: Jiang Jianguo, minister of the State Council Information Office, also delivers a speech at the Beijing-Tokyo forum on Tuesday. Excerpts translated from the Chinese version of the speech follow:
The annual BeijingTokyo Forum, which is in its 12th year, has become a representative civil dialogue platform between China and Japan. It has helped strengthen friendship between Chinese and Japanese peoples from various walks and develop Sino-Japanese relations.
When PresidentXi Jinping met with Japanese PrimeMinister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the G20 Summit inHangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang province, earlier this month, he explained China’s basic stance on improving bilateral ties. He said the two sides should shelve their differences and put bilateral ties on the right track.
Xi emphasized that China’s stance is not influenced by external disturbances, and is clear, unswerving and constant. The 12th Beijing-Tokyo Forum is being held in Tokyo against this background and under the theme of “Sino-Japanese Cooperation for Asian and Global Peace and Development”. The forum is a platform for sincere and friendly dialogues between media outlets, think tanks and enterprises from the two sides in the quest to seek ways to improve China-Japan relations.
To improve China-Japan ties, I have four suggestions.
To begin with, the two countries must pay attention to direction of the development of bilateral ties. Although the two countries have fought wars, the main theme of bilateral ties remains peace, friendship and cooperation, which also meet people’s expectations and conform to the trend of the times.
Good relations between two big countries such as China and Japan, the world’s second- and third- largest economies, not only serve the interests of the peoples in the two countries, but also facilitate peace, stability and prosperity in the region and beyond.
Second, we must strengthen our respective sense of responsibility and be aware of the threats crises pose. In the 1970s, the leaders of the two countries made the important political decision of normalizing diplomatic relations, in order to advance mutual interest and open a new chapter in Sino-Japanese ties. We should shoulder that historical responsibility to forge ahead into the future.
In these difficult times, we should learn from the older generation’s political wisdom and sense of responsibility, turn a crisis into opportunity, and create conditions for the healthy development of China-Japan relations.
Third, we should highlight the positive facets of bilateral ties while reducing the negative factors. The common interests and concerns of China and Japan overshadow their differences. Hence, the two countries should pursue positive policies, maintain political and diplomatic contacts, properly handle key issues, strengthen exchange and cooperation, create favorable public opinions for each other, deepen win-win cooperation and reduce conflicts and differences.
And fourth, the two sides should also manage their old differences well and prevent newproblems from emerging. Some people in Japan seem interested in interfering in the South China Sea issue even though Japan has no stakes in it. We should foil their designs because they want to create newdifferences between China and Japan.
The two countries should abide by the four consensuses they have reached. They must use history as a mirror, look to the future, seek common points of interests and shelve their differences, and prevent conflicts.
Most of the people in the two countries don’t have a favorable opinion about each other’s countries, as the forum organizers’ latest poll shows. Friendly relations between China and Japan form the basis of good relations between their peoples. The current emotional detachment between Chinese and Japanese peoples deserves attention of their respective leaders, especially those attending the forum. In this regard, too, I have four suggestions.
First, we should make good use of think tanks. Cooperation between Chinese and Japanese think tanks is of vital importance to the development of bilateral relations. Many members of think tanks are attending the forum, and they should give valuable suggestions and advice on how to improve Sino-Japanese relations.
An important job of the State Information Office is to promote exchanges and cooperation between Chinese think tanks and their foreign counterparts. We will support regular and institutional exchanges between Chinese and Japanese think tanks and urge them to intensify communication with each other and conduct studies to find out the best possible way to resolve bilateral knotty issues.
Second, we should use media outlets to help improve bilateral ties. Media outlets in the two countries should focus on how to develop bilateral ties, address the common concerns of the two sides, give space and time to reasonable voices and turn government consensus into consensus between the media and the people.
At the Rio Olympic Games, the Chinese media played a positive role by highlighting Japanese ping-pong player Ai Fukuhara’s performance, and the Japanese media extensively covered Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui’s interviews and Chinese women volleyball team’s achievement. The popularity of the two athletes and the Chinese women volleyball team in both Japan and China reflected the potential of cultivating people-to-people relations and showed the important role media outlets can play in improving bilateral ties.
Third, we should allow enterprises to play a bigger role to improve Sino-Japanese ties. The G20 Summit in Hangzhou proposed a newglobal economic governance concept, based on equality, opening-up and cooperation. It advocated the development of a fair and efficient newglobal economic governance pattern to boost global growth and facilitate the transformation of the world economy.
China’s economic transformation and deep involvement in globalization will create business, investment and cooperation opportunities for the world, including Japanese entrepreneurs. Enterprises from China and Japan should seize this opportunity to deepen cooperation, so as to consolidate the foundation of Sino-Japanese relations.
Fourth, China and Japan should work together to increase people-to-people exchanges. The two countries have a long history in this regard. Japan used to send many officials and envoys to study in China during the Sui Dynasty (AD 581-618) and the Tang Dynasty (AD 618907). In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many Chinese people studied in Japan to learn from Japan’s experience.
Last year, Chinese people made more than 5 million trips to Japan. Since 2010, China’s State Information Office has been organizing three batches of young journalists from Chinese media outlets to visit Japan every year. And the Chinese government will invite 80 young Japanese journalists from Japan’s media outlets to visit China every year from this year.
We want Sino-Japan relations to return to the right track. Hopefully, the organizers of the Beijing-Tokyo Forum and the participants will make joint efforts to mobilize civil society in the two countries to help minds think deeply, the mouths speak more clearly, the legs walk more steadily and the hands hold other’s hands more tightly to bridge the gap between the hearts of the two peoples, and help improve Sino-Japanese relations.