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China-Japan ties for next 50 years

Source: China Daily | 2022-09-30
China-Japan ties for next 50 years

By Kong Xuanyou

The China-Japan Joint Statement, inked by the two countries' governments on Sept 29, 1972, put a complete end to the post-war confrontation and isolation between Beijing and Tokyo, ushering in a new historical chapter. As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the normalization of Sino-Japanese diplomatic ties this year, it is a right occasion to honor the strategic vision and political courage of the older generation leaders, and also the firm conviction of the two peoples to pursue peace and development.

Over the past half century, China and Japan have established close communication and increased exchanges on many fronts. The number of people traveling between the two sides annually increased to 12 million before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. Bilateral trade reached $371.4 billion in 2021. The two sides have also established more than 260 pairs of sister provinces and cities.

Besides, China and Japan have supported each other during difficult times such as the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in China and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. In the joint fight against COVID-19, many touching stories between our two peoples gave true meaning to the verse that "Though we live in different lands, the same moon and sky make us one".

Chinese and Japanese peoples have benefited immensely from the substantial development of bilateral relations despite the differences in ideology and social system. Both sides know well that long-term peace, friendship and cooperation is the right choice for them to overcome challenges.

Yet the bilateral ties saw twists and turns over the past 50 years, reminding us that cooperation benefits both while confrontation serves neither. Therefore, China and Japan should develop their relationship taking history as a mirror and looking forward to the future, in a bid to promote mutually beneficial cooperation and peaceful development, as well as pass on friendship to generations.

Standing at a historical crossroad today, the Sino-Japanese relationship faces new opportunities as well as daunting challenges. To meet the demands of the new era, the two sides should work together to deepen bilateral relations and overcome common challenges.

First, only by learning from history can a better future be created. To do that, the two sides need to abide by the principles set forth in the four political documents — the China-Japan Joint Statement of 1972, the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1978, the China-Japan Joint Declaration of 1998, and a joint statement on advancing strategic and mutually beneficial ties in a comprehensive way of 2008.

Accordingly, it is important to implement such important common understandings as the two countries are "partners, not threats" to each other. China and Japan should prioritize coordination over competition and properly manage their disputes and differences, and continue to push forward the bilateral relations on the right track.

Second, the two sides need to further unlock cooperation potential. The China-Japan commercial relationship serves as both the ballast and the propeller of the overall bilateral relationship. The two sides should enhance their economic cooperation to a higher level and foster new growth areas. For instance, they should introduce economic policies to build a more open and fair business environment, and promote the integration of the industry and supply chains in a bid to reap mutual benefit.

Third, the Chinese and Japanese peoples should use the 50th anniversary commemoration to increase cultural and other forms of people-to-people exchanges, especially between the young generations, so as to consolidate the basis of public opinion for friendly neighborhood.

And fourth, China and Japan should work together to uphold true multilateralism, deepen regional cooperation and meet global challenges, based on their respective interests and the common good of Asia.

Fifty years ago, the leaders of our two countries established the bilateral relations on mutual trust, with commitments that should be duly kept today. On the major issues of principle such as history and the Taiwan region, Japan should honor its commitments without overstepping or crossing the line, so that bilateral ties can be steered away from fluctuation or regression.

Especially important, the one-China principle should be fully respected and strictly complied with, as it relates to the political foundation and basic trust of the bilateral relations.

Amid the changing international landscape, as long as China and Japan renew their shared aspirations of normalizing diplomatic relations and work in the same direction, we will definitely strengthen peace, friendship and cooperation, setting on track a stable, healthy and ever-evolving relationship for the next 50 years.

The author is China's ambassador to Japan.