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China, Japan reach consensus on Taiwan issue, defense cooperation
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20:06, March 31, 2008

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Chinese and Japanese defense officials reached a consensus on the Taiwan issue and bilateral defense cooperation at a defense security consultation in Beijing on Monday.

"The consultation is held with the background of the continuous improvement and development of China-Japan relations, and thus is of concrete significance for promoting bilateral defense mutual trust and expanding exchanges," said Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Both sides are concerned with peace and stability across the Taiwan straits, said Ma, who co-chaired the consultation, the eighth of its kind, with Japanese Vice Minister of Defense Kohei Masuda, according to Chinese Defense Ministry sources.

Ma briefed Masuda on China's policies and position on the Taiwan issue and expressed his country's concerns, while Masuda made explanations in response to those concerns one by one. He reiterated that Japan's position on the Taiwan issue was consistent and the commitments made in the political documents, such as the Sino-Japan joint statement, have not changed.

The two sides also reached consensus on defense exchanges and cooperation. They agreed to take steps to enhance high-level visits and exchanges of youth officers and to maintain high-level exchanges between the two defense departments.

They also agreed to hold the first round of expert consultation on maritime liaison between the Chinese and Japanese defense departments in April.

Masuda told the press after the consultation that both sides exchanged views "frankly", and China had given a "very detailed explanation" towards Japan's concerns.

He expressed the hope that the two sides would continue to strengthen practical exchanges and enhance strategic mutual trust.

Ten officials from both sides attended the closed-door meeting that lasted 2.5 hours.

In recent years, defense exchanges between China and Japan have made new progress featuring many "firsts".

Last August, former Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan visited Japan, the first Chinese foreign minister to visit the country in 10 years; China invited Japanese officers to watch military exercises for the first time in September, followed by a visit to Japan by a Chinese warship in December, the first since the foundation of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Liang Guanglie also met with Masuda and his delegation after the consultation, saying the China-Japan relationship is at an important period of development and facing precious opportunities.

He said the defense departments of both countries should conform to the historic trend of China-Japan friendship, seize opportunities, promote friendly exchanges and enhance strategic mutual trust to help promote the comprehensive development of the relations.

Masuda told Liang the defense relationship was an important part of Japan-China relations and he hoped both sides would further strengthen exchanges and cooperation in the defense and security fields.

The defense security consultation between China and Japan was launched in 1997, hosted in turn by both sides.


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