Keynote Speech by H.E. Tang Jiaxuan at the Opening Ceremony of the 4th China-Japan Forum
11 January 2011
It gives me great pleasure to attend the opening ceremony of the 4th China-Japan Forum. Let me extend cordial New Year greetings and best wishes to all of you.
Since the regular exchange mechanism was established in 2007, the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA) and the Japanese Institute for International Policy Studies (IIPS) have jointly held the China-Japan Forum three times, creating an important platform for non-governmental dialogue and exchange between the two countries. At the beginning of the new year, it is of great significance that personages of great vision from our two countries gather again to review the past, look into the future and discuss matters of importance to the development of China-Japan relations. The agenda of this forum is well-designed. I hope that all participating experts and scholars will contribute your wisdom and exchange views in a candid manner so that the forum will produce positive results. Hereby I wish to share with you some of my observations.
China and Japan are closely connected with each other in every sense. I have been lucky to experience in person the history of China-Japan relations since the normalization of diplomatic ties. Despite twists and turns, the relationship has been moving forward on the whole, with tremendous achievements in the exchanges and cooperation in various fields.
A few years into the new century, China-Japan relationship encountered difficulties for a time. Thanks to the joint efforts of both countries, it turned the corner in 2006 and has since generally kept up the momentum for development in recent years. Leaders of the two countries reached important agreement on building a strategic relationship of mutual benefit, thus redefining the future of the China-Japan relationship. That was a natural result of the in-depth growth of the bilateral relationship and a strategic choice in conformity with the trend of the times. It serves the fundamental interests of both peoples. President Hu Jintao paid a successful state visit to Japan in May 2008, during which leaders of the two countries signed the fourth political document between China and Japan, charting the course for the relationship in the 21st century and putting the relationship on a new historical starting point.
In the early days of the government under the Democratic Party of Japan, China-Japan relationship got off to a good start, with frequent high-level interactions and solid progress in the result-oriented exchanges and cooperation in various fields. The Chinese and Japanese people and the international community were all hopeful of further progress in China-Japan relationship. Yet as the two sides were actively planning for the comprehensive growth of China-Japan strategic relationship of mutual benefit, the Diaoyu Islands incident happened last September, doing serious damage to the relationship. That was the last thing we wanted. The incident taught us a hard lesson, which we should seriously review and learn.
With the meeting between President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Naoto Kan on the sidelines of APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Yokohama and the contact between Premier Wen Jiabao and Prime Minister Naoto Kan on multilateral occasions a couple of months ago, leaders of the two countries reached important agreement on further promoting China-Japan strategic relationship of mutual benefit. The bilateral relationship has once again taken a step towards improvement and development.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The current international situation is undergoing extensive and profound changes. Peace, development and cooperation are irresistible historical trends. Asia is seeing the fastest and most dynamic economic growth in the world. Asian regional cooperation is deepening at a faster pace. Good synergies between various mechanisms lead to coordinated progress of all. At the same time, Asia faces growing security challenges. The situation on the Korean Peninsula was tense from time to time, hotspot issues heat up occasionally, and political volatility in some countries adds uncertainties to the stability and development in Asia.
China and Japan have significant influence in Asia and beyond, and therefore shoulder important responsibilities for regional and global peace, stability and prosperity. China-Japan relationship has long gone beyond the bilateral scope. The statesmen and persons of great vision from both countries should have a strong sense of historical responsibility and mission, put China-Japan relationship in the broader regional and global perspective, keep to the right direction of the relationship and strive to promote healthy and steady progress of China-Japan strategic relationship of mutual benefit.
Looking back at the course of China-Japan relationship in recent years, I am deeply concerned that the groundwork of this relationship is not solid enough and there is still a fragile side of it, as evidenced by the following:
First, inadequate political mutual trust. That has to do with historical and geopolitical factors as well as conflicts of immediate interests. But at a deeper level, how the two countries perceive each other's development plays a part. In Japan, a lot of insightful people view China's rise as a precious development opportunity for Japan and Asia. But some people and a small number of media organizations still cannot jump out of the box of the Cold-War mentality. They play up "China-threat", highlight ideological differences, and advocate cooperation with the ally to "regulate", "counterbalance", "contain" and "encircle" China. Japan claimed in its recently-issued new National Defense Program Guidelines that the insufficient transparency of China's military development is "of concern for the regional and global community" and made some new deployments. That was met with strong public and media concern from China.
Second, declining friendly sentiments between the peoples. According to the latest poll in Japan, nearly 80 percent of respondents say that they do not feel close to China, a record low since 1978. There is a similar decline of warm feelings for Japan in China. That is both worrisome and thought-provoking. The Diaoyu Islands incident may be an immediate cause for this, but fundamentally, it is the inadequate political and security mutual trust between the two countries that is reflected in the public mood.
Third, recurrent territorial and maritime issues. China and Japan have a number of disputes concerning the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands, maritime boundary delineation and resources development of the East China Sea. The intertwined and highly complex and sensitive issues arising therefrom have become factors constraining stable development of the bilateral relations.
In addressing these problems, the governments and visionary people of the two countries should pay great attention and adopt a calm and proper approach. Moreover, we should be aware of the fact that both China and Japan are at an important stage of development and transformation and that China-Japan relations face rare historical opportunities amid the latest profound adjustment and transformation of the international and regional architectures.
-China's development brings opportunities. This year marks the beginning of China's 12th Five-year Program. The coming five years will be crucial for China to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects, deepen reform and opening up and accelerate the transformation of economic development patterns. We have noted that Japan also rolled out its plan, the New Growth Strategy. Both countries aim to adjust economic structure, phase out backward production capacity, develop emerging industries and tap domestic demand. These similarities in economic growth strategy have provided favorable conditions for the two countries to bring their economic cooperation to a new high. The potential for bilateral cooperation on clean energy and circular and low carbon economy is especially huge, with China intensifying its efforts in these areas in the next five years as it strives to build a resource-conserving and environment-friendly society, and with Japan boasting sophisticated technologies and rich experiences in this respect. China's development will provide further room for Japanese investment in China and encourage well-established Chinese enterprises to seek business opportunities in Japan. This will inject fresh vitality into Japan's economy.
-Asian integration brings opportunities. Asian regional cooperation is flourishing and integration process is going full steam ahead, changing the outlook of the region in a deep-going way. The future and destinies of the countries and people in Asia are more closely connected than ever before. China-Japan-ROK cooperation is moving forward smoothly. The ASEAN-China, ASEAN-Japan, and ASEAN-ROK Free Trade Areas have been launched one after another. East Asia financial cooperation and food security cooperation have made important progress with the strong support from China and Japan. The 10+3 and East Asia Summit, which both China and Japan are part of, are also in new development phases. As Asia rises and presses ahead with regional integration, China and Japan will find increasingly converging interests and greater room for cooperation.
-Changes in the international architecture bring opportunities. As multi-polarity and economic globalization gathers momentum, there is a growing number of global issues. As two major economies with significant influence in the world, China and Japan are able to play a constructive role in global economic governance and major international affairs. The two countries have broad common interests in addressing challenges in the post-financial-crisis era, opposing trade protectionism, resolving issues concerning energy and resources, preventing and mitigating disasters, and combating terrorism and piracy. They have favorable conditions to enhance cooperation in international affairs and enrich the contents of China-Japan strategic relationship of mutual benefit.
China-Japan relationship is at a crucial period and faces both opportunities and challenges. The common interests between the two countries far outweigh the differences and disputes. And the opportunities for China-Japan relations far exceed the challenges. Both countries should bear in mind the general trend in the world, follow the tide of the times, work together to seize opportunities and overcome challenges with a view to bringing China-Japan strategic relationship of mutual benefit to a new high and moving bilateral relations forward in a sound and stable manner. To this end, it is important to keep to the following three themes.
First, the theme of peace. "Peace makes both sides winners while confrontation makes both sides losers." This is an important inspiration that the Chinese and Japanese people have drawn from history. Given the latest situation, it is of great relevance for the two sides to steadfastly uphold peace.
-Both China and Japan should stick to peaceful development and support each other's peaceful development. This is the important political understanding reached during President Hu's visit to Japan in 2008. I would like to stress that China is committed to the path of peaceful development and unswervingly pursues the win-win strategy of opening up and the foreign policy of fostering amity and partnership with neighboring countries. China follows a defense policy that is defensive in nature and never seeks hegemony or external expansion. These are absolutely not abstract or empty slogans. They are the strategic choice and solemn commitment to the international community made by the Chinese government in keeping with the trend of the times, China's historical and cultural heritage, values, national condition and fundamental interests. Japan has been following a path of peaceful development since the end of World War II and has scored remarkable achievements, bringing huge benefits to the Japanese people. We hope that Japan will continue to tap into its own advantages and play a constructive role for regional peace and development.
-The two countries should further enhance political mutual trust, especially in the field of security, view and treat each other's development in an objective and rational manner and foster and enhance a sense of partnership. It has been confirmed in the fourth political document on China-Japan relationship that the two countries are each other's cooperative partners and do not pose a threat to each other. The two countries should honor the commitment with concrete actions and make the important political understanding a consensus of the general public. To this end, the two countries should step up political and security dialogue and exchanges. They should communicate in a timely and candid manner and enhance dialogue on major issues in the bilateral relations, domestic and foreign policies and development objectives so as to deepen trust, dispel misperception and prevent strategic misjudgment.
-The two countries should bear in mind the larger picture and properly manage sensitive issues, especially maritime and territorial disputes. Differences and disputes are hardly avoidable between such neighbors having close contacts as China and Japan. We should draw from the great political wisdom with which the older generation of political leaders in both our countries approached the serious difficulties and obstacles our countries encountered as we tried to re-establish, improve and develop our relations after the end of World War II. History tells us that when it comes to sensitive issues, we should always bear in mind the larger picture of the bilateral relations and address such issues through dialogue and coordination, manage disputes and frictions well, and keep to the right direction of the bilateral relations.
We should appropriately manage the issue of the Diaoyu Islands according to the spirit of the important consensus reached by leaders of the older generation and existing understanding of the two sides. At the same time, we should speed up the establishment of a management and control mechanism for maritime crisis so that similar incidents would not happen again and cause serious disruptions to the overall bilateral ties.
The second theme is cooperation. China and Japan are partners rather than potential rivals. The two countries should strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation at bilateral, regional and global levels and keep expanding common interests in pursuit of shared opportunities, common development and common prosperity.
In bilateral relations, we should promote business cooperation as well as economic transformation and upgrading. To follow the trends of global economic development in the post-crisis era, we should strengthen cooperation in energy, the environment, green and low carbon economy, circular economy, and high and new technology. We should strive to launch big demonstration cooperative projects. Here, we should demonstrate our vision and make bold decisions. Since last year, the China-Japan industrial park for circular economy in Caofeidian has caught much public attention in both countries. When I accompanied Japanese business leaders on a field trip to Caofeidian, I was deeply impressed by the tremendous potential of local development and felt we had found an exceptional platform for our cooperation in the new era. Our two sides should seize the opportunity to move the project forward and strive for substantive progress at an early date.
In Asia, we should work together for a new chapter in regional cooperation. Asia is where both Chinese and Japanese live and pursue life's dream. It is the strategic basis for the development of both. With accelerated regional cooperation in Asia, China and Japan, two major countries in this region, need to leverage our respective advantages, strengthen coordination and cooperation, increase converging interests and join hands to build a better Asia. First, we should stay in close touch on major issues concerning the future configuration of regional cooperation and work together on a blueprint for the development of Asia. Second, we need to vigorously pursue regional economic integration and promote joint research on China-Japan-ROK Free Trade Area (FTA), the building of East Asia FTA and regional financial cooperation. We need to explore practical cooperation on the connectivity in Asia and the development of the Mekong sub-region so that regional cooperation will always move on the track of mutual benefit. Third, we should both commit ourselves to pushing forward the process of Six-Party Talks and building a peace mechanism in Northeast Asia, uphold peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and contribute to the denuclearization of the peninsula and long-term peace and stability of the region.
Globally, we should strengthen coordination and cooperation in international affairs. The two countries need to make the best use of such multilateral platforms as the UN, the G20 and APEC, stay in touch and coordinate with each other on global economic stability, the reform of the international financial system and improvement of global economic governance, and support each other in opposing trade protectionism. We need to carry out mutually beneficial cooperation on the UN Millennium Development Goals and global issues such as climate change, counter-terrorism, natural disasters and epidemic diseases. As two large importers of resources and energy, China and Japan need to encourage domestic businesses to conduct strategic cooperation in resource development, pricing, transportation and other issues.
The third theme is friendship. The over-two-thousand-year friendly exchanges between China and Japan have forged a deep foundation for the friendship between our two peoples. It is the joint aspiration of both Chinese and Japanese to pass down this friendship from generation to generation. In response to the declining positive sentiments between the two peoples, the two countries, with a strengthened sense of urgency, should further increase input, adopt various measures and strive to turn the situation around as soon as possible.
We should make the best use of the unique advantages between the two countries, such as the geographical proximity, cultural similarity and a large number of sister cities, encourage governmental and non-governmental initiatives and vigorously expand people-to-people exchanges. In particular, we should conduct youth exchanges in a persistent manner for greater mutual understanding and friendship between the younger generations.
We should keep innovating ways and enriching the contents of exchanges. Common cultural values should be championed. Popular culture and cooperation in creative industry have a role to play in promoting cultural exchanges that can resonate with the public, encourage public participation and strengthen the bonds between our two peoples.
We should work together to foster an objective and friendly media environment. The two sides need to provide media groups with more upbeat, positive and objective information so as to enable understanding and form virtuous interactions between the Chinese and the Japanese. Chinese and Japanese media organizations should strengthen exchanges and enhance mutual understanding between them and increase their sense of responsibility. They should act as a bridge in improving the bilateral ties between China and Japan.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This year marks the 100th anniversary of China's 1911 Revolution. One hundred years ago, Dr. Sun Yat-sen said, "The trend of the world is like a roaring river. Those who follow it will prosper; those who resist it will perish." With that, he unveiled the democratic revolution in China and, in the process, enjoyed valuable support from many Japanese friends. One hundred years later, while, throughout the world, people are in pursuit of peace, cooperation and development, the only correct choice for China and Japan is the choice of peace, friendship and cooperation. I firmly believe that so long as we follow the historical trend, get the right reading of the pulse of the times, transcend individual incidents, take a strategic and long-term approach when viewing and handling bilateral relations, and move forward on the track of China-Japan strategic relationship of mutual benefit, the two countries are bound to achieve the lofty objective of peaceful coexistence, friendship from generation to generation, mutually beneficial cooperation and common development.
At the beginning of the new year when everything takes on a new look, I wish to stress that 2011 will be critical to China-Japan relations. It is my sincere wish that China and Japan will work together, meet each other halfway, seize the opportunities, address the challenges and ensure healthy and stable development of the bilateral relations so that when we celebrate the 40th anniversary of normalization of relations in 2012 we will have achieved concrete results in our cooperation that will allow us to take our relations to a higher level.