(Oct. 23, 2011, Beijing)
Distinguished Mr. Taizo Nishimura, Chair of the Japanese side,
Committee members from China and Japan,
We, members of the fifth China-Japan Friendship Committee for the 21st Century, once again gather in Beijing today for the third meeting of the Committee. On behalf of the Chinese Committee, I wish to extend a warm welcome to the fellow members from Japan headed by Mr. Taizo Nishimura and express heartfelt thanks to the Japanese Committee, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the Japanese Embassy in China for the tremendous efforts they put in the preparation for this meeting. I'd also like to welcome the friends from media to cover this meeting. We are willing to provide you with various facilitations you may need.
The Committee was established when we entered the second decade of the century, when the international economic and financial crisis changed the global and regional situation in a profound manner and when China and Japan experienced accelerated development and change. The Committee has been running for two years. For the last two years, the Committee not only carried out various stimulating exchanges, but also conducted in-depth and practical discussions. We made forward-looking design for our relationship. We strived to maintain the overall stability of bilateral relations, promoted pragmatic exchanges and cooperation between our two countries, and carried out a lot of fruitful work. Recalling what we did in the last two years, we can proudly say that this Committee's work is vigorous and we haven't disgraced our mission and great trust in us.
Fellow members and friends:
Next year, we will embrace the 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations. It will be an important year in the history of bilateral relations. Since the normalization of diplomatic ties, our bilateral relationship has traversed an extraordinary path. Although we experienced ups and downs in our relationship, our bilateral relationship on the whole has been moving forward. We also made great achievements in our bilateral relationship. The trade volume between us was only $1 billion and the number of personnel exchanges was only 1 million person times when we normalized our relations while by 2010, the bilateral trade volume approached nearly $300 billion and the number of personnel exchanges reached 5.7 million person times. The two sides also matched 245 pairs of sister cities. The interests of the two countries are increasingly interlinked. The substantial development of China-Japan relations has brought tangible benefits to our people, has provided important favorable conditions for the development of the two countries, and has made important contributions to regional and global stability, development and prosperity.
We are the witnesses of the development of bilateral relations since the normalization of diplomatic ties. Reflecting on the past and thinking of the present, I think that we should never forget the following major experiences and lessons.
First, only by taking a broad and long-term view, can the two sides maintain the right direction for the development of bilateral relations. China-Japan relationship has its particularity. Its improvement and development is often subject to the constraint, containment and even obstruction of a variety of complex factors. We need to take a broad and long-term perspective at major historical junctures such as the normalization of diplomatic ties, the conclusion of peace and friendship treaty, and breaking the political deadlock. On this way, can we grasp the overall direction, keep abreast with the times, and make the right strategic decision to ensure that bilateral relations will not deviate from the correct course.
Second, only through win-win cooperation, can China-Japan relations obtain an inexhaustible vigor. The development course of bilateral relationship in the past 40 years is actually a process of expanding common interests and interconnecting joint interests. Over the past 30 years and more since China's reform and opening up, Japan provided China with valuable support in capital, technology and many other areas in support of China's modernization. The Chinese people will never forget this. Meanwhile, China's development also provided important opportunities for Japan and promoted Japan's economic recovery and growth. Today, we are the most important trading partners of each other. Our two economies are interdependent. This lays a solid foundation for us to build up a strategic relationship of mutual benefit.
Third, only by carrying on the friendship, can China-Japan relations sustain. China-Japan friendship has a history over two thousand years, which is very rare in the history of international relations. It is the unique advantage of China-Japan relations. After the war, the insightful people of our two countries upheld the firm belief in China-Japan friendship, firstly promoted non-governmental exchanges in a very difficult environment and then pushed governmental exchanges through non-governmental exchanges and made outstanding historic contributions to the eventual reconstruction of bilateral relations after the war. Since the normalization of diplomatic relations, many friends have been continuing to write new chapters for China-Japan friendship, such as Mr. Masahide Toyama, who devoted himself to desert and sand treatment and control in China for decades, Mr. Masasuke Shimizu and Mr. Hirayama Ikuo, who devoted their whole life to the undertaking of cultural exchanges between China and Japan. We should inherit and carry forward the traditional friendship and encourage more people, especially the younger generation, to join the undertaking of China-Japan friendship for a better future of China-Japan relations.
Fourth, only by properly handling major sensitive issues, can the two countries maintain the stability in the overall situation of China-Japan relations. China and Japan have emotional entanglements of the history as well as frictions over practical interests. In the post-war reconstruction, improvement and development of bilateral relations, we encountered serious difficulties and obstacles. The political wisdom shown by the statesmen of older generations in the process of handling these difficulties and obstacles is worthy of our careful study. We need to cherish and uphold the important consensus and understanding reached by them. As the exchanges getting increasingly close, frictions and differences will keep occurring. Certain issues are very sensitive. The practice of China-Japan relations over the past 4 decades has left a profound lesson. History tells us that while handling major sensitive issues, we should always take the overall situation of bilateral relations as the priority and adhere to properly and calmly handling related issues through dialogues and consultations, and negotiations according to the related consensus and understanding agreed by the two sides, especially the spirit laid out in the four political documents between China and Japan.
4 decades is just the blink of an eye in the long history of China-Japan exchanges. When we examine China-Japan relations, we should cast our eyes on the history over the past 2,000 years. Premier Zhou Enlai once said China and Japan are friends for 2,000 years and have only 50 years of misfortune. The biggest revelations from history are as follows: past experience, if not forgotten, is a guide for the future; we should take history as a mirror and face forward to the future; cooperation benefits both, while confrontation hurts both; the two countries must adhere to the general direction of peace, friendship, and cooperation and embark on the path of peaceful coexistence, generational friendship, mutually beneficial cooperation and common development.
Fellow members and friends:
Our meeting takes on unusual special mission for it convenes in a crucial period of building on the past and preparing for the future. The 12th Five-Year Plan period just started in China and we undertake an arduous task of realizing scientific development and transforming economic development patterns. Japan had just experienced the severe test of triple disasters. The new cabinet of Japan regarded post-disaster reconstruction and economic revitalization as the top priority. China and Japan are both implementing new national development strategies to seek new development. Around the world, the integration process in Asia is moving deeper. Challenges of global nature keep emerging. The people in the world live in the same global village. The future and destiny of the two countries are closely tied together. China-Japan relations are again at a new historical starting point.
Looking ahead, I think that the two sides should focus on promoting two major systematic programs and cooperation in five major areas to achieve long-term, healthy and stable development of China-Japan relations.
First, the systematic program for mutual political trust. The mutual trust in political security lies in how to approach and treat each other. Are we opponents, adversaries or partners? Are we presenting challenges or presenting opportunities? This is a fundamental problem. The root cause for the lack of mutual trust is that we could approach and view each other's development in an objective and rational manner. The Chinese side will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development and pursue a defensive national defense policy. China will seek neither hegemony nor external expansion. These are neither empty slogans, nor talks to please other people. It is a strategic choice made by China based on China's basic national conditions, development realities and fundamental interests.
From the reality of China's development, despite of the fact that China's gross domestic product (GDP) has exceeded Japan, China's per capita GDP is only slightly more than $ 4,000, only one-tenth of Japan. The development between urban and rural areas and between different regions is uneven. The social security system is far from perfect. The structural contradictions in economic and social development are prominent. The constraints on development such as resources and environment surfaced. We are facing an arduous task of transforming economic growth patterns. These have determined that China must focus on development for quite a long time and use the growing economic power on domestic construction and the improvement of people's livelihood. Therefore, China has no intention or ability to use the limited financial resources on arms expansion or arms race with other nations. China strengthened national defense moderately for the purposes of safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity and safeguarding our security and the peaceful development environment.
In the bigger context of economic globalization, a country's development and prosperity can be realized through equal, orderly, and mutually beneficial international competition and cooperation. We do need to go back to the old path of challenging the international order or challenging other countries. China adheres to an open policy of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation. China is a major player, promoters and beneficiary of the globalization. Last year, China's foreign trade volume amounted to nearly $3 trillion, more than 50% of China's economic output. China's economy reliance on foreign economies is over 60%. It can be said that the rise and fall of China today depends on the rise and fall of the world. The views that China would also seek hegemony when it gets more powerful just as traditional big powers is purely misinterpretation on China's development based on outdated mindset. The more China develops, the more China needs to strengthen cooperation with other countries and the more China needs a peaceful and stable international environment. We sincerely hope the Japanese side can understand China. As the largest developing countries, China needs to gradually solve the various problems that occurred on the road. The Japanese side can respect the importance attached by the Chinese people to national sovereignty, security, territorial integrity and social stability. Japan can gain an objective knowledge of China's national conditions and an objective understanding on the sincerity and determination of the Chinese people to embark on the path of peaceful development.
Japan embarked on a path of peaceful development after the war. Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida established the national strategies of "Light on Military and Heavy on Economy" in the early 1950s and Japan quickly achieved economic take-off and became world's second largest economy. We made positive comments on the peaceful development of Japan after the war, hoping that Japan will continue to walk along this path unswervingly.
President Hu Jintao paid a state visit to Japan in 2008 and the two sides issued the fourth political document, which clearly stated that the two countries "are partners and do not constitute a threat to each other" and the two countries will "support each other's peaceful development". What I want to stress is that these are the solemn commitments made by the two countries based on historical experiences and lessons. The two sides need to take concrete actions to implement such an important political consensus and gradually expand it into the broad consensus of the people. To this end, the two sides should strengthen dialogues and exchanges between governments, political parties, parliaments and other communities to have timely and candid communication on major issues in bilateral relations as well as the domestic and foreign policies and their directions so as to enhance mutual trust and prevent strategic misjudgment.
Second, the systematic program for national sentiments. Sino-Japanese friendship between the two countries has deep folk roots. It is the common aspiration of the people to remain friendship from generation to generation. However, due to historical and practical reasons, the national feelings of the two countries in recent years have been staying at low levels. A recent poll showed that more than 60% of the Chinese people and more than 80% of the Japanese people dislike each other, dropping to its lowest level in recent years. This situation is worrying, but also thought-provoking. There are many reasons, including lack of mutual trust in political security, speculations about sensitive issues from time to time, the public's understanding of each other lagging behind the rapidly changing reality, and so on. Both sides should attach great importance to such a worrying situation of national sentiments, have a sense of urgency, increase input in a targeted manner and try to reverse this situation as soon as possible in multi-layered approaches.
- The two sides should give full play to such unique advantages as geographical proximity, cultural similarity, and a diversity of paired sister cities and actively expand personnel exchanges by mobilizing both governmental and non-governmental resources. We need particularly carry out youth exchanges in a consistent manner and constantly enhance mutual understanding and friendship between young people.
- The two sides should explore innovative forms of communication and enrich the connotations of such communication. The two sides would explore common cultural values, make good use of new vehicles such as modern pop cultures and creative industries and vigorously carry out stimulating cultural exchanges to attract more people to participate and narrow the emotional distance between each other.
- The two sides should work together to create an objective and friendly public opinion environment. The two governments should provide the media with more positive, active, objective information so that people can correctly understand each other and form positive interactions. The media of both countries should strengthen exchanges, increase mutual understanding, enhance a sense of responsibility, avoid malicious speculations and serve as a bridge for the improvement and development of bilateral relations.
On the basis of the two systematic programs, the two sides should carry out mutually beneficial cooperation in five major areas at bilateral, regional and global levels, expand the cake of common interests and walk on the path of opportunity sharing, common development and common prosperity.
First, cooperation in green economy.
To seek for new development, countries around the world are adapting to the trend of the times and are taking the development of green low-carbon industries as important strategic initiatives to seize the high ground in the future development. A wave of green economy is gathering momentum in the world. In the 12th Five-Year Plan, China proposed to vigorously develop the circular economy, promote low-carbon economy, and seek for sustainable development. Japan also includes the green recycling economy as important part for the post-disaster reconstruction and the economic growth strategy for the next decade. In this sense, our development strategies have similar points and can be complementary; therefore we have great potentials for cooperation. The two sides should actively develop big demonstration cooperative projects and let them play a leading role in transforming and upgrading bilateral economic and trade cooperation.
Currently, the project of Tangshan Caofeidian China-Japan Ecological Industrial Park and the Lianyungang cooperation project between China and Japan have attracted increasing public attention due to their favorable conditions and promising prospects. They are expected to become important platforms for the two sides to look into the future and carry out mutually beneficial cooperation. The two sides should seize the opportunity and vigorously promote these projects for greater progress.
Second, cooperation in post-disaster reconstruction and disaster prevention and reduction.
After a devastating earthquake hit Japan on March 11, the Chinese government and leaders expressed their condolences to Japan and provided assistance in various ways. President Hu Jintao went to the Japanese Embassy to offer condolences. It was unprecedented in the history of China-Japan relations. During his attendance of the fourth China-Japan-ROK leaders' meeting in Japan, Premier Wen Jiabao made a special trip after landing to visit Miyagi and Fukushima, the hardest hit regions, to visit and condole with the affected people. He reached important consensus with the Japanese leaders on strengthening post-disaster reconstruction exchange and cooperation in ten areas. The Chinese communities and the general public also took positive action. Take the Chinese Committee as example. Members like Tie Ning took immediate actions and offered donations to express their best wishes. COSCO Group led by Wei Jiafu, a member of the Chinese Committee, not only contributed more than 20 million yen, but also shipped the large pump truck donated by a Chinese company to Japan for free. This was a strong support to the handling of nuclear accidents in Fukushima. After the earthquake took place, I myself immediately sent a letter of condolence to Mr. Taizo Nishimura. Several members and I went to the Japanese Embassy to offer condolences to the victims. The Chinese Committee and the Chinese communities expressed their determination with their actions to work with the Japanese people to overcome the difficulties together.
Over 7 months after the earthquakes, the post-disaster reconstruction work in Japan has made significant progress. The production and social life basically returned to normal. The momentum of further economic downturn was also initially contained, which we are very pleased to see. More importantly, Japan has been formed thinking on achieving a higher level of rebirth and post-disaster reconstruction. We believe that depending on strong technological strength and rich experiences in tackling economic crisis, Japan will achieve new development. The acceleration of the reconstruction of Japan and the gradual recovery of Japan's economy will become important new opportunities for us to deepen cooperation. Not long ago, Yukio Edano, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry headed a big delegation including members from the severely affected three counties to participate in the opening ceremony of Canton Fair. China attached great importance to this matter and Premier Wen Jiabao met with Minister Yukio Edano. I expect to see that we can achieve more fruits of cooperation through this platform. For the next step, the Chinese government will send the post-disaster reconstruction inspection and trade and investment promotion delegations to Japan. We also welcome Japanese companies to come to China to seek greater development according to domestic industrial restructuring and transformation.
China and Japan are natural-disaster-prone countries. Catastrophic and devastating disasters are common threats and challenges that both China and Japan face. The two sides should share experiences and lessons in dealing with major natural disasters and strengthen pragmatic cooperation and exchanges in the field of disaster prevention, mitigation, and relief and work together to build a safety network to effectively and jointly respond to major disasters. Meanwhile, both sides should strengthen exchanges of experience in post-disaster reconstruction. I heard that Mr. Taizo Nishimura visited the disaster-stricken region in Wenchuan, Sichuan last month. I believe that you must have a personal experience of the reconstruction progress there. Last year I also went to Yamakoshi, Niigata Prefecture to learn about the reconstruction situation there. I feel that both sides have a lot of good experience and practice in this respect and we can learn from each other.
Third, cooperation in the integration process of the Asia-Pacific.
Asia is the anchor for China and Japan and the common strategic foundation for the development of both countries. With the rise of Asia and the regional integration process in Asia, our co-operation in all fronts continued to deepen and the space for cooperation continued to expand. As major countries in the region, we should leverage our respective advantages, strengthen coordination and cooperation, and seek more common interests. First, we need to maintain close communication on major issues in relation to the future pattern of regional cooperation and draw a common blueprint for future development of Asia. Second, we need to be committed to regional economic integration, promote joint research on China-Japan-ROK FTA and the building of East Asian free trade zone, and strengthen regional financial cooperation. We need to discuss the pragmatic cooperation on interconnection of Asia and the Mekong sub-regional development and drive regional cooperation along the direction of mutual benefit. Third, we need to work together to promote the Six-Party Talks process and the building of peace mechanism in Northeast Asia, maintain peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, and make positive contributions to the long-term peace and stability of the region.
It is worth mentioning that China-Japan recently put forward a joint initiative on accelerating the development of the East Asian free trade area and building the comprehensive economic partnership in East Asia, which is an important measure taken by the two sides to promote regional cooperation in East Asia. I hope that we can take this opportunity to make greater contributions to the integration process of the Asia-Pacific.
Fourth, cooperation in dealing with global issues.
China and Japan are countries and economies with big influence in the world. We enjoy a wide range of common interests at the global level and face increasing common challenges. The echoes of the international financial crisis still linger. The European and American debt crisis continue to augment. The risk of the world economic downturn increases. We shoulder common responsibility in global economic governance and major international affairs.
We can make full use of the UN, G20, APEC and other multilateral platforms and maintain close communication and cooperation on such issues as maintaining the stability of global economy, advancing the reform of international financial system, and improving global economic governance mechanisms and support each other in such areas as opposing trade protectionism. We can also carry out mutually beneficial cooperation in dealing with subjects of global nature such as the fulfillment of the UN Millennium Development Goals, climate change, terrorism, resources and energy security, food security, and infectious diseases. China and Japan are big importers of energy resources, so we can also encourage the enterprises to carry out strategic cooperation in resource development, pricing, transportation and other areas.
Fifth, cooperation in marine affairs.
There are many disputes between China and Japan concerning East China Sea. The contradictions are intertwined and highly complex and sensitive. They are prominent real risks endangering the stable development of bilateral relations. With respect to marine-related issues, I think we must focus on the overall situation of bilateral relations, take a future-oriented view, follow the understanding and consensus agreed by the two sides and handle them through dialogues and consultations in a prudent and proper manner. The first imperative is to strengthen management and control over maritime crisis and establish a sound maritime crisis management mechanism as early as possible for the prevention of emergencies. We may also carry out joint survey on the marine environment of the western Pacific and jointly safeguard the security of sea passage. We should mobilize the resources from different sources and resolve the problems through cooperation, turn challenges into opportunities, and make the East China Sea and the western Pacific truly become a sea of "peace, friendship and cooperation".
Friends and colleagues:
Yesterday, Premier Wen Jiabao met with members of this Committee from both sides. He expressed his ardent hope for this meeting. He expected us to put forward important proposals and big ideas on the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan diplomatic relations next year and on the long-term development of China-Japan relations. He stressed the need to enhance political mutual trust, improve national sentiments toward each other and promote the China-Japan friendship and cooperation through the 40th anniversary. It has important guiding significance to the opening of this meeting.
The 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations will be a new milestone in the history of bilateral relations and will provide new and significant opportunities for the development of bilateral relations. We should take full advantage of this opportunity and organize a variety of activities to promote substantial progress on exchanges and cooperation in various fields and lay a sound foundation for the long-term development of bilateral relations. The two governments are actively planning for 40th anniversary and they are soliciting public views. The Fifth China-Japan Friendship Committee for the 21st Century, an advisory body for the two governments, is obliged to actively plan and participate in the activities celebrating the 40th anniversary. I sincerely hope that the members, standing from the present and looking forward to the future, can put forward specific proposals on what kind of activities could be organized for the 40th anniversary, including the subjects of the theme year and put forward ideas, thinking and suggestions on the long-term development of China-Japan relations from a strategic height.
Dear friends, China-Japan relations are at an important transitional stage. Its prospects will have a significant impact on our future generations and on the peace and development of this region. Let us join hands and work together with the people of different communities to promote the continuous and further development of the strategic and mutually beneficial partnership and make contributions worthy of our predecessors and worthy of our times.
I wish this meeting a complete success.
Thank you for your attention.