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China, Japan talks resume

(Global Times)    09:09, January 23, 2015

High-level maritime meet seeks to prevent conflict

China and Japan has begun a third round of high-level consultations on maritime affairs, a mechanism that analysts believe may help stablize Sino-Japanese relations, which have been strained by disagreements over the Diaoyu Islands and the East China Sea.

Chinese foreign ministry on Wednesday confirmed that officials from both countries' defense and foreign ministries, in addition to other maritime affairs departments, would attend the three-day talks in Yokohama, Japan, which would conclude on January 23.

Hua Chunying, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, said at a daily press briefing that the high-level talks are a comprehensive way to coordinate and communicate between the maritime affairs departments of the two countries. They will allow the two sides to exchange views on the East China Sea as well as maritime cooperation.

The talks are believed to be aimed at building bilateral trust, and will focus on crisis management and resource development in the East China Sea. Both sides may exchange views regarding an earlier incident wherein Chinese fishermen were poaching coral in Japanese waters, as well as oil field development and protection of marine resources, Kyodo News reported.

Wang Xiaopeng, a maritime border expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times Thursday that the talks signify significant progress in China-Japan relations, the result of consensus forged by both countries' leaders during the APEC summit held in Beijing in November 2014.

Chinese President Xi Jinping met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the summit in the first face-to-face encounter since both leaders came to power. The two countries later agreed to resume political, diplomatic and security dialogue while acknowledging different positions on the Diaoyu Islands.

"The recent maritime talks between the two countries are a positive sign," Wang said, adding that he is optimistic that some form of agreement could be reached during the new round of talks.

Bu Wang stressed that whether agreements could be made would depend largely on Japan's attitude.

China and Japan discussed setting up a hotline to prevent sea clashes last week in Tokyo. It was the first resumption of discussions since September 2012, when Japan announced its decision to "nationalize" the Diaoyu Islands.

"The maritime talks will also cover not-so-sensitive issues such as marine pollution and resources management, as well as highly-sensitive issues such as the Diaoyu islands. The two sides might be able to reach a breakthrough by starting from not-so-sensitive issues," Wang said. "Once cooperation is established, the two countries could manage potential crises and contradictions more effectively and prevent further conflicts."

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Wang Ao,Yao Chun)

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