China and Japan on Monday jointly released a press communique on their first high-level economic dialogue which was held over the weekend, confirming a new mechanism for forging long-term reciprocal cooperation.
The press communique said that at the one-day dialogue meeting China and Japan had "frank" discussions of issues concerning macro-economic policies, trade and investment, climate change, environmental protection and multilateral and regional economic cooperation and the two sides agreed to release a report on their joint research about bilateral economic and trade cooperation in the long term.
Gao Hong, research fellow with the Japan Research Institute of China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said such bilateral all-round discussions, which enabled the two Asian powers to exchange views on policies and more importantly to fine-tune their economic, trade and energy ties, has demonstrated their intent to cement political relationship by further developing and enhancing economic and trade cooperation.
Further development of economic and trade cooperation could increase the stability of the bilateral political relationship, Gao noted.
Japan is now China's third largest trade partner and the second largest source of foreign direct investment. China is Japan's largest trade partner and one of Japan's fastest growing export markets.
Zhang Jifeng, head of the Economic Office of the Japan Research Institute of CASS, said China's rapid economic development has brought opportunities and created huge market for Japan, and economic and trade cooperation between the two sides is good for both in the long term.
Zhang commented that the press communique was forward-looking, strategic, pragmatic and detailed beyond its confirmation that China and Japan saw their relationship as "reciprocal", which was already a very high-key appreciation of the past and present China-Japan overall relations.
The bilateral cooperation on energy conservation and environmental protection is particularly a "shining point" in the communique since 6 out of 20 items of the press communique are related to future bilateral efforts to deal with related issues, Zhang said.
"Japan and China care much about climate change, environmental protection and energy saving, Japan has outstanding technologies while China has huge demand for relevant technologies. The two have common interests and enjoy strong synchronicity here", said Zhang, adding the two countries will have bright prospects on cooperation in this area.
The pragmatic and detailed measures in the communique also include those on facilitating China-Japan trade on agricultural products, high technologies, logistics and cooperation between Chinese and Japanese small and medium sized enterprises and pushing forward cooperation on intellectual property rights protection and in financial areas, said Zhang.
Zhang said despite positive progress, there are still harsh problems between China and Japan, including the slowdown of bilateral trade volume growth, decline of Japanese investment in China, barriers to technical cooperation, Japanese failure to recognise China's full market economy, China's huge deficit in its trade with Japan and the two countries' differences on the issue of the East China Sea.
"Harsh problems remain and could not be solved through one or two mechanisms or exchanges of visits, but the creation of a good and sound atmosphere is critical to furthering bilateral ties," Zhang added.
The dialogue meeting was co-chaired by Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan and Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura whose visit was considered the prelude of Japan's new Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's upcoming visit to China.
The dialogue mechanism was jointly launched by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during Wen's trip to Japan in April of 2007.
China and Japan agreed to convene the second dialogue by the end of 2008 in Tokyo, the communique said.