A Navy ship hung with the Japanese flag entered a Chinese harbor on June 24. Although before this, military ships hung with the French flag, British flag, and US flag have all visited China, there are still people who do not understand the current visit or even feel perturbed by it. After all, the self-proclaimed "Imperial Army" brought unprecedented destruction upon the people of this land during war.
In the eyes of many people, a Navy destroyer is a weapon, and a weapon is a tool of war. However, as human civilization has developed up to today, Navy ships are no longer just an instrument of war; more often, they are platforms for exchange, dialogue, and the transference of certain information between two countries. Today, a visit by a Navy destroyer may express the visitor's militaristic intentions, or it may express hope for dialogue or willingness for friendly cooperation. In the same way, the receiving country may also express more information concerning foreign relations: perhaps it is merely bowing to pressure from the visiting country, or perhaps in receiving the intentions of the visitor, the country may express the willingness for dialogue and cooperation, etc. Therefore, in watching the arrival of the Navy destroyer, the question one must ask is what exactly is it bringing here? What kind of intent is it expressing? This May, at the Sino-Japanese summit meeting, both sides reached a mutual understanding about the Japanese Navy destroyer's visit to China; before it departed, the highest ranking military official on the ship stated that the essence of friendship in Japan-China relations is growing step by step, and he hopes that this visit may add to the trust between the two nations, thus contributing to peace and stability in Asia. Also, the Japanese Navy ship will bring material aid for the Sichuan earthquake disaster region. All of this information is indicative of the increase in contact with Japan and the strengthening of the hope of trusting relations. On the Chinese side, receiving and welcoming the Japanese Navy's visit is in itself an expression of the Chinese people's great hospitality and self-confidence as well as the Chinese government's hope and willingness to improve relations, strengthen cooperation, preserve peace, and pursue development with other countries including Japan.
Clearly remembering history does not mean holding a grudge. No Chinese can forget that page of the wounds of history, imprinted with the ultimate image of that part of history, the Nanjing Massacre. But the Chinese people also cannot forget the efforts the Japanese people have made to improve Sino-Japanese relations. In the midst of the Wenchuan earthquake relief efforts, the images of Japanese relief workers bowing and paying deep respects to each body pulled out of the wreckage were broadcast on CCTV and appeared before the eyes of every Chinese. These will also become images in Chinese historical memory. History was never supposed to be an obstacle to dialogue and cooperation, because today, the interest of all countries, regions, and even humanity must be reached even more often through dialogue and cooperation. As China and Japan are two large countries that are close neighbors, mutual interest and conflicts of interest cannot be avoided between them. But to these two countries which bear such a burden of history, how to carry out cooperation through dialogue and maximize the interests of both sides in a win-win situation through cooperation requires courage, and moreover it requires wisdom. When the General Secretary of China Hu Jintao visited Japan, he identified strategic mutual relations as the nature of Sino-Japanese relations together with the leader of Japan, making it clear that both sides would build new hope upon old history, and furthermore made clear that China seeks to strengthen dialogue, increase understanding, and rebuild trust as the basis for relations in order to realize the vision of a harmonious world between the two neighbors. On the question of the East Sea, China has long held to the principle of mutual access and use, and reached an agreement with Japan not long ago for mutual access and use, precisely so that this idea could be realized.
As the first Japanese Navy ship to enter a Chinese port after World War II, it has brought news of cooperation and dialogue, and has also brought intentions of rebuilding trust and strengthening cooperation. However, mere news and intentions are not enough. What people look forward to is even more substantive progress, awaiting a new future of cooperation and mutual success between China and Japan.
By Chen Hu, the executive editor-in-chief of Xinhua News Agency's "World Military Affairs" Magazine, translated by People's Daily Online