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Baseball game in Beijing part of Fukuda's "spring-ushering" visit to China
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09:48, December 30, 2007

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An early-morning baseball game between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda became another light-hearted anecdote during Fukuda's visit to China, which has been dubbed a trip "ringing in the spring of Japan-China relations".

The 15-minute game of catch between Wen, 65, and Fukuda, 71, took place in a stadium at the Diaoyutai State Guest House here on Saturday morning. The game, which wasn't on the formal agenda, was squeezed into a busy day, sources with the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (L) and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda pose for a photo during playing baseball at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, on Dec. 29, 2007. Yasuo Fukuda arrived here for an official visit to China from Dec. 27 to 30.

Fukuda said when meeting with Wen on Friday that "after Premier Wen's visit to Japan this April, I asked the Premier to play catch with me when we had a chance, but I have not received a reply."

Wen quickly responded that he would find time to play catch with Fukuda.

Wen arrived at the stadium a little before Fukuda and jogged to warm up for the game. The Chinese Premier donned the same gray outfit that he had worn when playing baseball at Japan's Ritsumeikan University in April. Fukuda wore a white jersey and a red cap.

Both dropped a few balls but drew cheers from the crowd when making a good toss or catch.

"Both Premier Wen and Prime Minister Fukuda were on a professional level. It wasn't easy to catch some of the balls they threw," said Feng Qifeng, a Chinese player who practiced with the two leaders.

The demonstration of sportsmanship followed a "heart-to-heart" dialogue on Friday, as both stressed joint efforts to promote bilateral relations, saying "spring has come" for China-Japan ties.

In Friday's speech at Beijing University, Fukuda voiced support for Beijing as the host of next year's Olympics, saying that Japan would "vigorously support" China and "sincerely look forward to" the success of the Games.

"It's been 20 years since the last Olympic games were held in Asia," he added.

On Saturday, Fukuda told a group of Chinese elementary school students that he hoped they would cheer not only for the home team at the Olympics but also for teams from Japan and elsewhere "because we are from the same world."

"If Tokyo were to host the Olympics in a decade or so, I hope you all come as athletes to compete in the games," Fukuda told the schoolchildren.

Fukuda's visit, three months after he took office, was the first to China by a Japanese prime minister since Shinzo Abe visited Beijing last October.

Source: Xinhua

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