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People's Daily Online>>Foreign Affairs

Neighborly partners rather than rivals

By Ye Xiaowen (China Daily)

14:10, December 27, 2011

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said he has long had a bond with China after he wrapped up his first official visit to the country on Monday.

"I made my debut appearance in China in 1984 as a member of a 3,000-strong Japanese youth delegation and have ever since forged a bond with China," Noda said in a written interview with the Xinhua News Agency and other Chinese media ahead of his two-day visit. "That is why I often describe myself as the 'son of Japan-China exchanges'."

In his maiden visit to China as prime minister, Noda said he expects to "reach consensuses with China's leaders on deepening bilateral strategic and mutually beneficial relations" on the 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties between the two countries next year.

China too attached great importance to his visit. President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, all held talks with him. During these talks, Chinese leaders made it clear that China is willing to work with Japan to make preparations for the activities to celebration the 40th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral diplomatic ties and the "Year of Friendly Exchanges" between the two people. The top Chinese leaders also said that China, on the basis of the principles embodied in the four political documents the two countries have signed as the foundation of their diplomatic ties, is willing to enhance mutual political trust and expand exchanges and cooperation with its neighbor in a bid to create a conducive environment for bilateral strategic and mutually beneficial ties. During the talks, both countries also vowed to be "good neighbors and partners rather than rivals".

Their geographic proximity has historically led to frequent friendly exchanges between China and Japan. But their geographic closeness has also brought occasional friction and clashes, which culminated in an aggressive war launched by Japanese militarists in the 1930s and 40s, a war that inflicted on both Chinese and Japanese people enormous pain and tragedies. However, the communications and exchanges both countries managed to open in the following decades have helped eradicate misunderstandings and enhance mutual understanding and entente.

The ups and downs in bilateral ties demonstrate that exchanges and communication on a friendly and candid basis remain the only way to defuse conflicts and crises.

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