Xi warns Abe over Diaoyu Islands
Updated: 2013-09-07 03:12
By ZHANG YUNBI (China Daily)
President encounters Japanese leader in St. Petersburg before summit
Japan should handle sensitive issues including the Diaoyu Islands in a correct way to control divergence and seek a resolution, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday.
Instead of an official bilateral meeting, Xi encountered Abe in the VIP room for participating leaders and had a brief talk before the 8th G20 Leaders' Summit was held in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Thursday.
China-Japan ties are facing grave difficulties, which "we are unwilling to see", Xi said. "The Chinese side is willing to further advance the China-Japan strategic ties of mutual benefit on the basis of the four Chinese-Japanese political documents."
Tokyo's policymakers embarked on a media campaign two weeks ago to accuse Beijing of being reluctant about the first encounter of the two leaders after Abe and Xi assumed office.
The Japanese side had hoped to force Beijing to change policy and make a concession on the standoff during the international summit, but failed, observers said.
"Japan should face up to history and keep an eye on the future, correctly deal with such sensitive issues as the Diaoyu Islands and history issues, and seek a way to properly manage differences and address the problems," Xi said.
Abe said he had been looking forward to seeing Xi, adding: "I am eager to improve Japan-China relations."
Tokyo's goal was simply realizing "the meeting itself rather than anything of substance", said Lu Yaodong, director of the department of Japanese diplomacy of the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
"Tokyo had not prepared any substantial proposal but empty phrases for the so-called Japan-China leaders encounter. The brief talk on Thursday definitely ended up with no substance provided by Abe," Lu said.
The short chat took place at a time when bilateral relationship have been deadlocked for a year.
On Aug 23, Japan's leading news agency, Kyodo, quoted several unnamed government sources as saying that "Beijing said it was difficult to hold formal talks between the two leaders".
The Japanese officials also said Abe was seeking a chance for an informal talk with Xi on the sidelines of the G20 summit.
"A leaders' meeting is not just about shaking hands or taking pictures but solving problems," Vice-Foreign Minister Li Baodong said at a news briefing on Aug 27 about Xi's ongoing trip abroad.
Liu Jiangyong, an expert on Japanese studies and the deputy dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University, warned that Japan's challenge against the postwar international order is behind its high-profile claim on the Diaoyu Islands.
The Declaration of Cairo in 1945, a key postwar legal document, included the islands in the territory that Japan should return to China, Liu said.
"This is not just about the islands but also about Japan's attitude toward its militaristic past during World War II," Liu said.
This is not the first time that Japan has failed to repair ties through a leaders meeting.
A year ago, leading Japanese media, including Kyoto and Asahi television, publicized a plan they said was formulated by Abe's predecessor, Yoshihiko Noda, for a meeting with former president Hu Jintao during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' summit in Vladivostok on Sept 9.
Noda ignored Hu's warning over the islands situation and failed to provide any constructive suggestions. On the next day, Sept 10, his Cabinet unilaterally announced the "nationalization" of the Diaoyu Islands.