2007 NPC

China urges Japan to face up to history

Updated: 2007-03-06 15:37

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing talks as he meets the press on the sidelines of the ongoing National People's Congress session in Beijing March 6, 2007. [Xinhua] 

China on Tuesday urged Japan to face up to history and handle properly the issue of Japanese military's use of Asian women as sex slaves during World War II.

"Japan should face up to history, take the responsibility, and seriously view and properly handle the issue," said Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing as he met the press on the sidelines of the ongoing session of the National People's Congress.

"The conscription of comfort women is one of the serious crimes committed by the Japanese militarists during the second World War," said Li. "This is a historical fact."

He said the Japanese government should take history as a mirror and looking forward to the future to properly handle the China-Japanese relations amid the opportunity of the 35th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral diplomatic ties in 2007, Li said.

"History, in my view, is a strong progressive force," Li said. "It should not become a burden to the progression of peace."

On Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan will not apologise again for forcing women to act as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers in World War 2 even if a U.S. House of Representatives resolution demanding an apology is adopted.

Abe's statement triggered international outrage and contradicted evidence in Japanese documents unearthed in 1992 that showed that military authorities worked with contractors to forcibly procure about 200,000 women - mostly from Korea and China - for the brothels.

The remark also cast doubt on a 1993 Japanese government apology to the sex slaves issued by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono.

Kono's 1993 statement also acknowledged that many women were forced into prostitution, and that the military government was involved in some cases.

The government followed Kono's statement in 1995 by setting up a fund to meet victims' compensation demands. But the fund, which is due to expire on March 31, is based on private donations and has been attacked as a government ruse to avoid owning up to the abuse.

Last month, U.S. lawmakers introduced a nonbinding resolution urging Japan to apologize formally. Japan objected to the resolution, and said its leaders have apologized repeatedly.

Foreign minister Li Zhaoxing noted that Premier Wen Jiabao's April trip to Japan, the first for a Chinese premier in seven years, is of vital importance to promoting co-operation between the two countries in various fields.

Li said he believes the upcoming visit will be a complete success.

The foreign minister expressed China's willingness to talk on the joint development of the East China Sea to "seek a solution that both sides can accept, making the East China Sea a sea of friendship, of co-cooperation and of peace."

The bilateral ties between the neighbors improved from last October thanks to the joints efforts of the two sides, noted Li, saying China is willing to make more efforts to promote the healthy and stable development of the ties.

Hu to visit Russia

Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Russia will further boost the China-Russia strategic partnership of coordination, Li said.

"At the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Hu Jintao will visit Russia once again," Li said at a press conference on the sidelines of the fifth session of the Tenth National People's Congress.

This year marks the Year of China in Russia, and the two countries will hold about 200 activities to promote bilateral exchanges, deepen traditional friendship and further boost China- Russia strategic partnership of coordination, Li said.

"To hold the Year of Russia in China and the Year of China in Russia is an important step to implement the Sino-Russian Good- Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation," he said.

Top leaders, governments, relevant departments and the peoples of the two countries are working "hand in hand" to deepen the traditional friendship, raise the level of China-Russia strategic partnership of coordination so as to boost the common development of the two countries and to make new contributions to world peace and development, Li said.

Last year was the Year of Russia in China and more than 300 activities were jointly held by the two countries, according to the foreign minister.

Harmonious World

Li said that mutual respect and non-interference in each other's internal affairs between countries are the necessary conditions for building a harmonious world.

He said that Chinese President Hu Jintao and the Chinese government advocate building a harmonious society and a harmonious world, and China sticks to peaceful development, harmonious development, scientific development and sustainable development, which conform to the trend of times and to the wish and interests of the people.

In diplomacy, China is committed to promoting peaceful coexistence, equal treatment to each other, cooperation of mutual benefits, and common development among countries, Li said.

China is also committed to pursuing good-neighborliness and mutual trust, solving disputes through dialogues and other diplomatic means, seeking common security and lasting peace, he said.

Meanwhile, China is committed to boosting exchanges and learning from each other, building a resource-saving and environment-friendly society and enhancing cooperation in the fields, the minister said.

Darfur Issue

The Chinese government fully supports the consensus reached by the United Nations, the African Union and the Sudanese government on the Darfur issue, Li.

President Hu Jintao had clarified the Chinese government's stance on the Darfur issue in Sudan, one of the eight African countries he visited earlier this year, Li said.

The Chinese government has always maintained that different countries can have friendly negotiations on an equal footing, and China is willing to hold such dialogues with African countries and all the other countries, he said.

The Chinese government has kept offering humanitarian assistance to Sudan's Darfur area and hopes that the international community tries its best to lend a hand to the area, he said.

China, apart from seeking self-development, has tried to assist other countries to the best of its capability. "Our assistance is free of any political pressure and helps resolve specific problems, a good demonstration of China's peaceful development road and constructive role in the world," Li said.

While differentiating dialogue from interference, he cited the UN charter, which clearly stipulates a principle of non- interference in other countries' internal affairs.

"It's hard to imagine the world can maintain harmony and peaceful development if any country or international organization intends to interfere in other countries' internal affairs," the minister said.

Iran urged to cooperate with IAEA

Chinese FM Li called upon Iran to step up cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), saying China hopes to see the resumption of diplomatic negotiations for regional peace and stability.

"We hope that Iran could cherish its negotiation channels with the European Union, Russia and other countries," Li said.

"Nothing else on earth is more precious than peace," he said, hoping that all the efforts from the international community could help restore diplomatic negotiations, and all the actions by the UN Security Council could boost regional peace and stability.

China would faithfully fulfill its obligation as a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and support peaceful resolution of the Iran nuclear issue through diplomatic efforts as always, said the minister.

The United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany have kicked off their series of informal talks on Iran's nuclear program to discuss the elements of a new sanctions draft resolution aimed at pushing Iran back to negotiations, according to a latest news report.

The UN Security Council passed a resolution on December 23, 2006, demanding that Iran suspend uranium enrichment in 60 days. However, Iran has failed to do so and claimed its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only.

Question Session

The Supreme People's Court will send back cases to provincial courts for retrial if it evaluates that a death sentence has been passed without proper .

From our readers

 Chinalight: China almost single-handedly prevented America's third war.

 Overseas Chinese: Taiwan will not be allowed to declare independence, just like Texas or Hawaii will not be allowed to declare independence.

 per capita: US has an annual military budget of USD 1,000 billion, compared to China's USD 45 billion.

 Harsh reality: Recent history of the past 150 years has shown that when you are weak, you get invaded, robbed and beaten. That has proven to be the harsh reality.

 H.S.Yuen: The world sees Japan as irresponsible and fails constantly to come clean on all the sensitive issue pertaining to its war time records, including the so-called "comfort women" issue.

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