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Ex-official calls on China, Japan to repair ties

By Qin Zhongwei  (China Daily)

08:33, April 03, 2013

Beijing and Tokyo should work together to get their economic and trade ties back on track because the latest economic figures reflect sluggishness amid unresolved tensions, a former Chinese senior commerce official said on Tuesday.

The Sino-Japanese relationship is now at a crossroads, said Wei Jianguo, vice-chairman and secretary-general of the China International Economic and Exchange Center. Wei was speaking at a preliminary consultation meeting for the Ninth Beijing-Tokyo Forum, to be held in August.

Bilateral trade in January and February was $44.99 billion, a year-on-year decline of 8.2 percent, he said. China's exports to Japan were $22.71 billion, with a slight growth of 0.2 percent. But its imports from Japan were $22.28 billion, showing a sharp decline of 15.5 percent, said Wei, a former vice-minister of commerce.

The economic difficulties have also adversely affected investment by some Japanese enterprises, which are worried and therefore reluctant to increase their investments in China, he added.

Apart from Japan's stagnant domestic market, the worsening relationship between China and Japan is the other important contributor to the trade difficulties, he said.

Earlier figures have shown that bilateral trade slumped 3.9 percent year-on-year to $329.45 billion last year, with Japan losing its status as China's fourth-largest trading partner, falling to fifth.

Japan was China's fourth-largest trading partner after the EU, the US and ASEAN. China has been Japan's largest trading partner since 2007.

Poor economic ties between Japan and China, the world's second- and third-largest economies, will have a negative effect on the world economy as well, warned Koji Tanami, former governor of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

He said the territorial row with China, to some extent, had affected normal trade between the two countries, which will not serve the interests of their citizens.

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