China, Japan resume defense dialogue

BEIJING – China and Japan agreed to maintain stability in the East China Sea and promote the early establishment of a maritime liaison system, as the two sides resumed their bilateral vice-ministerial defense dialogue on Tuesday in Tokyo.

Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army, held talks with Kimito Nakae, Japan’s vice-minister of defense, at the ninth bilateral vice-ministerial defense dialogue.

The two sides agreed to strengthen communication and cooperation, promote the early establishment of a maritime liaison system in the East China Sea and maintain the stability of the East China Sea, according to Xinhua News Agency.

The resumption of the dialogue, which started in 1997, is an indication of the improvement in Sino-Japanese relations, but it is still too early to judge whether such a step forward could make bilateral ties flourish, said analysts.

“To restart the defense talks is a good chance for both China and Japan to mend their frayed ties and let relations bounce back from 2010,” Professor Yang Bojiang from the University of International Relations in Beijing told China Daily.

Sino-Japanese ties soured and bilateral exchanges, including those between the two countries’ defense departments and militaries, were suspended after the collision between a Chinese fishing boat and two Japanese patrol boats in waters off China’s Diaoyu Island in the East China Sea in September 2010.

Since an “unscheduled hallway meeting” between Premier Wen Jiabao and his Japanese counterpart Naoto Kan in Brussels in October 2010, bilateral ties have been gradually normalized.

Ma said friendship and cooperation are in the interests of both nations and will benefit regional peace, stability and prosperity.

Both countries should make solid efforts to maintain friendship, improve people’s feelings toward each other’s nation and handle sensitive issues properly, said Ma.

Nakae said Japan attached importance to mutually beneficial bilateral relations with China and paid great attention to China’s development.

Japan is ready to work with China’s military to establish better understanding and mutual trust in order to contribute to regional peace and stability, said Nakae.

Ma arrived in Tokyo on Monday. He met Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa, who is considering visiting China in late August.

Defense is a sensitive but essential element of Japan-China ties, Ma told Kitazawa, adding that he hoped the defense ministries in both countries could deepen communications.

However, Yang said uncertainty surrounding the future of the current Japanese government would affect bilateral relations, and Japan’s policy on China is easily influenced by pressure from conservatives and the United States.

“The two countries, which have a number of conflicts of interest, still lack basic political trust,” said Yang, citing another example of Japan’s new defense policy.

Source: China Daily

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