Keynote Speech by Tang Jiaxuan Chair of the Chinese Side At the Opening Session of the First Meeting of The Fifth China-Japan Friendship Committee for the 21st Century
7 February 2010
Your Excellency 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, gather in Beijing today for its first meeting. On behalf of Committee members from the Chinese side, I wish to extend a warm welcome to Mr. Taizo Nishimura and fellow members from Japan and express heartfelt thanks to the governments of China and Japan for their great care and support for this Committee.
The formation of this fifth Committee cannot come at a better time. As we embrace the second decade of the new century, the international and regional situation is undergoing profound changes. With that comes an important period of opportunities for China-Japan relations. The new Committee, as an advisory body to the governments of the two countries, has a great responsibility and an honorable mission. I hope that members of the Committee from both countries will work in concert and prove worthy of the trust of our governments and people by contributing ideas and wisdom to the growth of the China-Japan strategic relationship of mutual benefit.
In my diplomatic career of more than 47 years, I have been involved with Japan more than any other country. I have witnessed major historical events between our two countries, such as the normalization of diplomatic relations, the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship and the issuance of the Joint Declaration. Our relationship has gone through a tortuous journey, but on the whole, it has been moving forward and made great achievements. Since our political relations were turned around in 2006, our leaders have exchanged visits on a frequent basis, pushing the relationship to new heights. Of particular significance is the state visit to Japan paid by President Hu Jintao in May 2008, during which our leaders signed the fourth political document, mapping out the growth of our relations in the 21st century and putting the relationship on a new historical footing. Following the formation of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s cabinet last September, our relations realized a rapid and smooth transition and got off to a good start. The two sides have since enjoyed stronger political trust and achieved new agreement on a number of major issues.
I think we can learn three important things from the extraordinary path of China-Japan relations in the post-war period. First, it is important to stick to the direction of China-Japan friendship. The friendly contacts between Chinese and Japanese people in the last two millennia and more have established a time-honored tradition of friendship between our two nations. This is a unique and invaluable asset to the growth of our relations. Mr. Deng Xiaoping once pointed out, we must take a good China-Japan relationship into the 22nd and 23rd century and always be friendly to each other. This is of greater importance than any particular issue between us. Second, it is important to respect each other’s core interests and major concerns in keeping with the principles and spirit of the four political documents between China and Japan. When it comes to dealing with some specific issues and disputes, we must focus on the big picture, take a prudent and calm approach and handle them properly. Third, it is important to approach each other’s development in an objective light and position ourselves with respect to each other in a correct way. It was reaffirmed in the fourth political document that China and Japan are cooperation partners, not threat to each other, and the two countries will support each other’s peaceful development. This is a major strategic judgment which I hope, will find wide and deep support in both countries.
Friends and colleagues,
Both China and Japan are growing and changing while major transformation and adjustment are taking place in the international and Asian landscape. This brings important opportunities for China-Japan relations. I think the following new factors deserve our attention:
First, the new situation in China’s economic and social development. Last year, China overcame the serious impact of the international financial crisis on its economy. As a result, the economic downturn was curbed, GDP growth accelerated quarter by quarter and a V-shape recovery was secured with an 8.7% GDP growth for the whole year. This made China an important driver behind the recovery of the world economy. In the period to come, China will place more emphasis on transforming the development pattern and restructuring the economy, deepen reform and opening up, promote independent innovation, stimulate domestic demand and maintain steady and relatively fast economic development. As important, next door neighbors, China and Japan are interdependent economically. The good prospects of the Chinese economy will create more opportunities for the business cooperation with Japan.
Second, the new developments in Japan’s domestic situation. The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) has made great contribution to the reconstruction, improvement and growth of China-Japan relations in the post-war period. Many LDP leaders have been pathfinders, pioneers and champions of the China-Japan relationship, which China will never forget. Prime Minister Hatoyama’s cabinet and the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) highly value Japan’s relations with Asia and China. They have proposed an East Asia Community and indicated that China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) should become the core of this East Asia Community. Prime Minister Hatoyama has also advocated a diplomatic philosophy based on “fraternity”, stressing that different countries should recognize and transcend differences in their systems and achieve coexistence. The Asia policy of the new Japanese government will help China and Japan strengthen political mutual trust, increase bilateral exchanges and cooperation in various fields, and make greater progress in our relationship. It is, therefore, good for peace, stability and development in Asia.
Third, the new era of Asian integration. Regional cooperation in Asia is accelerating and deepening, with various mechanisms developing in complementarity and coordination with each other. ASEAN is moving ahead with its integration and community building; cooperation among China, Japan and the ROK is at a new starting point; and the 10+1 free trade areas between ASEAN and the three countries respectively have been launched successively. East Asia is one of the world’s fastest growing areas and is becoming an important pillar of the global economy. Some scholars predict that the next ten years will be a “golden decade” for Asia, and that Asia will emerge as a new force for global stability and prosperity. As major countries in Asia, China and Japan face important opportunities of working together to promote our region’s integration and revitalization.
Fourth, the latest economic trends in the post-crisis era. Every economic crisis in history has brought about breakthroughs in industries, science and technology. The ongoing international financial crisis has stimulated thoughts and inspired the international community to make new explorations regarding development models. In the post-crisis era, it has become the common pursuit of all major countries to energetically develop, with the goal of achieving sustainable development in mind, new industries of strategic importance such as energy, the environment, green and low-carbon economy, circular economy, bio-medicine, information and communications technology, and new materials. Following this trend, the Japanese government has recently adopted an economic growth strategy for the coming decade, while China is working on its twelfth five-year plan. Japan boasts advanced technology and rich experience in relevant areas, while China has a large market and great demand. In the new round of world economic transformation, China and Japan have complementary strengths and our cooperation has great potential.
Meanwhile, we must be aware that China-Japan relations still face some problems and challenges that should not be neglected. Our political mutual trust needs to be enhanced, our people’s feelings for each other need to be improved, and some sensitive issues need to be properly handled.
Friends and colleagues,
China and Japan share the goal of upgrading our strategic relationship of mutual benefit and achieving greater progress in our relations through adapting to the new situation, seizing opportunities, reducing negative factors and increasing positive ones. I hope members from both sides will have in-depth discussions and pull wisdom on how we can achieve this. Let me share with you my perspectives:
First, it is important to foster strategic mutual trust. Strategic mutual trust is an important guarantee for sound and steady development of state-to-state relations. Only on the basis of strategic mutual trust can we carry out strategic cooperation in its true sense, thus expanding common interests and delivering strategic benefit to both sides. High-level exchanges play a critical role in building strategic trust. The two sides should promote and carefully plan the exchange of visits between our leaders this year. We should also increase exchanges and dialogue between governments, political parties, legislatures and defense authorities at all levels to build trust and remove misgivings through better communication on bilateral relations, our respective domestic and foreign policies and development goals.
Second, it is important to upgrade China-Japan business ties. The growth of our business ties has slowed down in recent years, showing a lack of sustained momentum. The share of trade and investment from Japan has declined sharply in China’s external economic sectors. It is increasingly difficult to expand bilateral trade and traditional patterns now face challenges. Therefore, the two sides need to find a new approach, explore new areas and open up new space. While maintaining steady growth of bilateral trade and investment, we should keep in mind the overall trend of the world economy and capitalize on the opportunities of our respective economic transformation. With focus on sustainable development, we should step up cooperation in energy, the environment, green and low-carbon economy, circular economy and high technology. We should explore the possibility of launching some large cooperation projects and creating new highlights to bring win-win results.
Third, it is important to expand cultural and people-to-people exchanges and cultivate friendship between our people. Active cultural exchanges and interactions between our youth, young and middle-aged officials and media agencies have yielded positive results in recent years. We need to improve the various mechanisms, increase input and carry the cause forward. We should enlist the participation of more people from both countries to increase understanding and friendship between our two nations. The Shanghai World Expo this year offers a good opportunity to expand exchanges. It is my hope that more people from various sectors of Japan will visit the Expo, leading to a climax in people-to-people interactions between China and Japan.
Fourth, it is important to strengthen coordination and cooperation on international and regional affairs, starting with Asia. Asia is the shared strategic base for the development of China and Japan, and the development of Asia cannot be achieved without China and Japan. The two sides should make joint efforts to: First, deepen regional financial cooperation, put in place a financial security network and strengthen Asia’s ability to head off and counter financial crisis. Second, speed up the building of Asian bond market and provide financial support for the long-term development of Asia. Third, integrate the infrastructure networks in Asia, starting with the opportunity created by our joint participation in the Mekong sub-regional development. Fourth, accelerate the tripartite study on free trade zone with the ROK involving our governments, industries and academic communities, start official negotiations as soon as possible and use this as a boost to integrate regional markets.
Friends and colleagues,
In the more than two decades since the formation of the China-Japan Friendship Committee for the 21st Century, members on both sides have made many important policy suggestions to our governments on political, economic, cultural and non-governmental exchanges. The Committee has effectively played its role as an advisory body to the government and contributed to the improvement and development of China-Japan relations. With a larger membership covering broader areas, this fifth Committee will better play its role. We should discuss big, strategic issues in China-Japan relations, Asia and the world. We should concentrate on topics such as strategic mutual trust, mutually beneficial cooperation and friendly sentiments between our people, and make strategic and forward-looking policy recommendations on growing the China-Japan strategic relationship of mutual benefit. To this end, I hope the two sides will have open and candid dialogue, seek common ground while putting aside minor differences and contribute our share to the continuous progress of China-Japan relations.
In closing, I wish this meeting a complete success.
Thank you all!