The 7th Beijing-Tokyo Forum, focusing on the “Future of Asia and China-Japan Cooperation in Economic Reshaping”, from August 20 to 22 in Beijing, provides both sides with an opportunity to compare notes on bilateral ties.
A recent survey conducted by China Daily and Genron NPO, the two sponsors of the annual forum, showed a sharp drop in the number of people in China and Japan harboring feelings of friendship toward each other following a turbulent year for their relations.
As Wang Chen, minister of the State Council Information Office, said at the forum reception banquet although some problems and disputes might continue to emerge in the future, timely communication and accurate understanding will help avoid misunderstanding and prejudice and ensure healthy China-Japan relations.
Only such comprehensive and interconnected discussions as this forum can help tap the huge potential of bilateral coordination and cooperation. China will be Japan’s largest trade partner and market for both products and outbound investment during this crucial period for Japanese economic recovery.
The Chinese government can also learn from Japan in its attempts to solve some of the problems arising from its fast development, such as how to deal with an aging population, how to transform industrial and economic structures without incurring too much environmental and social costs, and how to overcome the current development stage sizzling with anger at the growing income gap.
Economic and trade interdependency accompanied by intensive cultural and social interactions, which are usually a by-product of political kinship in international relations, are necessary before both countries build up solid political mutual trust.
The two countries should seize the opportunities presented by China’s economic restructuring and Japan’s reconstruction after the earthquake and tsunami to make concrete contributions to the development of both countries as well as Asia at large.
As the 2nd and 3rd largest economies in the world, both countries should be fully conscious of the contribution they can make to regional and global peace and financial stability if they can join hands. Unfortunately, their cultural intimacy and geographic closeness is often affected by the distrust deeply ingrained from historical events and territorial disputes over islands. Coordination based on mutual trust is what both countries are still striving for 31 years after the peace and friendship treaty was signed in 1978.
Achieving mutual trust entails unremitting efforts and farsightedness by people from various walks of life in both nations. Both peoples should heed the painful lesson of history that peaceful relations featuring mutual respect and a global outlook benefit both.
Even though there have been difficulties in bilateral ties, China and Japan should seize the opportunities and push forward bilateral ties.