China, Japan striving for perspective with pragmatic cooperation

15:48, August 30, 2010      

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Third China-Japan economic dialogue kicked off in Beijing on Saturday, Aug. 28. It was the first economic dialogued held between Japan and China since the Democratic Party of Japan (DJP) took office. At the dialogue, the two sides held discussions on promoting the economic recovery and bilateral cooperation as well as cooperation at the regional and global level, and reached important consensuses on strategic and long-term macroeconomic cooperation between the two nations.
The China-Japan high-level economic dialogue, launched by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was first convened in 2007 in Beijing, and the second meeting was held in 2009 in Tokyo.

In fact, the ministerial meetings rotated annually in China and Japan back in the 1980s, and they played a vital role then in the growth of bilateral relations. As China and Japan are two close neighbors and two major powers in Asia Pacific, the necessity of enhancing their mutual cooperation remains unchanged till today. In new circumstances, the desire to increase bilateral cooperation has increased significantly within a greater scope and at higher levels.

From the trade point of view, the Sino-Japanese trade volume reached 228.85 billion US dollars in 2009, among which, China's export to Japan made up 97.91 billion dollars in the year, and China imported from Japan 130.94 billion dollars, or 13 percent of its total imports, and China ran a trade deficit of 33.03 billion dollars with Japan in the year.

On the other hand, during the first seven months of 2010, Japan's direct investment in China rose 1.2 percentage points to 2.35 billion US dollars; the number of Chinese tourists reaching Japan in the first seven months of the year rose by 38 percent year on year to 1.19 million, and the figure is likely to double for the whole year. Meanwhile, a new form of China-Japan future cooperation is hopefully to occur in the construction or emerging of China's model towns and townships or villages.

For China, which has overtaken Japan as the No.2 economy, and the fact that its GDP has outstripped Japan this year is based solely however on the total numbers expressed in dollar terms. And its per-capita income is barely one tenth that of Japan. So, there is still a yawning gap in the per-capita income levels between the two nations. China also has a huge gap with Japan in term of economic quality standards and technological levels.

To materialize a better-off society and attain the goal of common prosperity, to speed up the development in China's Midwest region and accelerate its industrial upgrading, China will need the further participation of foreign companies as well as their investment. While coping with global financial meltdown in an efficient way, China also needs to cooperate with Japan in mulling and drafting its 12th Five-Year-Plan, which will cover the period from 2011 to 2015. Furthermore, China will draw on its experience, concepts and technologies in developing the low-carbon economy and material cycle business, sewage treatment and disaster prevention and reduction.

As for Japan, cooperation with China is also an important factor for its economic revival. As it is still amid economic slowdown and financially strained, Japan needs China to invest in its treasury bonds and needs more tourists from China to stay and spend within its territories.

The economic policy and Asia Pacific cooperation strategy Prime Minister Naoto Kan has proposed is designed mainly to participate in urbanization and industrialization in China. The ratio of Japan's export to China shot up to 18.8 percent in 2009 as against 16.1 percent in the nation's export to the U.S. during the same year, according to statistics provided by the Japanese side. In contrast, Japan's export to China accounted only for 6.3 percent of the nation's total export in 2000, whereas its export to the U.S. was 29.8 percent that year.

Against such a backdrop, any statesman in Japan with common knowledge has no alternative but to improve the nation's relations with China, and some conflicts or disputes should be settled appropriately within the great framework of strategic mutual benefits.

Apart from spurring bilateral cooperation, China and Japan should strive for a futuristic perspective with pragmatic cooperation through the China-Japan economic dialogue mechanism, along other high-level multilateral dialogue mechanism organizations, such as the Group of 20 Summit, the Informal Economic Leaders' Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the three-way Leaders' Meeting of China, Japan and South Korea.

By People's Daily Online and contributed by Liu Jiangyong, a PD special guest commentator, an ace professor at the Institute of International Studies in elite Tsinghua University in Beijing, as well as a member of the 21st Century Committee for Sino-Japan Friendship


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