Opinion / Editorials

Chance to show goodwill

(China Daily) Updated: 2012-05-16 08:10

Territorial disputes are always hard to resolve, and they can easily escalate out of control.

The first round of the regular consultations on the maritime security between China and Japan in Southeast China's Hangzhou is a positive attempt to deal with their dispute over the Diaoyu Islands.

For a political solution to be found there has to be a positive atmosphere and a consensus that a constructive relationship is an absolute necessity and in the national interests of both countries.

There was a time when the leaders of the two countries agreed on making the East China Sea, "a sea of peace, cooperation and friendship" and carrying out joint development without prejudice to the positions of either side on matters concerning the law of the sea.

The June 2008 agreement on joint approaches to the exploitation of hydrocarbons in the East China Sea served as an important milestone on this approach toward a resolution to the dispute.

This positive momentum, however, has failed to be maintained due to the forces of nationalism in Japan, which have been pushing to break this long-lasting pattern of cooperation and turn the East China Sea into a sea of conflict.

Both countries recognize that what is needed is greater mutual trust, but if Japan allows itself to be diverted from this path by the antics of its nationalists, such a goal is bound to remain elusive.

Historical facts and international law make it an undeniable truth that the Diaoyu Islands belong to China, yet Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has proposed "purchasing" China's Diaoyu Islands for the nation from a so-called private Japanese owner, and Japan's Self Defense Force has drawn up a war games plan to capture the Diaoyu Islands. These are not acts that inspire faith in Japan's desire to improve relations.

When the two countries established diplomatic relations and signed the treaty on friendship, their leaders agreed to disagree on the issue of the Diaoyu Islands for the time being.

They showed a lot of political goodwill, something that now seems to be lacking on the Japanese side judging from these latest moves aimed at grabbing China's Diaoyu Islands.

Following the positive talks between China, Japan and the Republic of Korea at the weekend, which advanced their economic cooperation, the consultations on maritime security offer Japan a chance to demonstrate it is sincere in wanting all-round better ties rather than just economic benefits.

(China Daily 05/16/2012 page8)

Most Viewed Today's Top News