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UPDATED: April 13, 2007 NO.16 APR.19, 2007
Connecting With East Asia
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s trip to South Korea and Japan is beneficial to the three countries, East Asia and the global community

The Chinese premier reiterated that a more prosperous and open China would bring tremendous opportunities for the development of other countries, especially the neighboring countries.

"As the world's largest developing country, China will unswervingly stick to the path of peaceful development, which is not an expedient measure but the long-term strategic choice and diplomatic guideline," Wen reaffirmed.

Roh agreed that through high-level cooperation and fair competition, both countries could achieve development and maintain common interests. He emphasized that South Korea welcomed China's economic development and did not see it as any threat, as the improvement in the Chinese people's living standards and the expansion of the Chinese market offered South Korea many opportunities.

Roh stressed that the South Korean Government attaches great importance to Sino-South Korean exchanges and other bilateral activities, and his country would continue to strengthen cooperation with China on international and regional affairs.

To strengthen the bilateral economic cooperation, Wen stressed that China was willing to further open its market to South Korea and increase imports from the neighboring country.

He said they should try to achieve the goal of annual trade volume of $200 billion as early as possible. In November 2005, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Roh agreed that the trade volume between the two countries should increase to $200 billion in 2012.

To reach this goal, Wen suggested both sides continue to optimize the trade structure and expand trade on agricultural products, hi-tech and service products. China was ready to learn from South Korea's advanced experiences, he said, including such areas as environmental protection, energy conservation, telecommunications, freight haulage, hi-tech development and the protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs).

Han hailed the development of Sino-South Korean relations, saying he believes the partnership will grow ever closer. South Korea hopes to continue to push forward the joint study of building a free trade zone with China, as well as to promote bilateral cooperation in trade, telecommunications, nuclear energy and railways. This will enhance communication and coordination in regional and world affairs, the South Korean prime minister said.

Experts are very optimistic about Sino-Korean ties. When interviewed by Beijing Review in Seoul, Zheng Yong Loo, a professor of economics from the Graduate School of International Studies, Seoul National University, said that in the area of foreign trade, China and South Korea are mutually beneficial. "In the 1980s, South Korea exported a lot to China. After the Asian financial crisis in 1997, South Korea was short of foreign exchange reserves. Exports to China helped them accumulate forex reserves," Zheng told Beijing Review.

Japan: 'ice thawing'

This year marked the 35th anniversary of normalization of Sino-Japanese diplomatic relations. Previously, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to China last October was considered an "ice-breaking" tour, because it cracked the cold bilateral ties caused by some Japanese leaders' improper actions when dealing with history. After the ice had been broken, it had to thaw. Premier Wen's Japan trip was designed to do just that.

During his visit, Wen met with Japanese Emperor Akihito, and the two reviewed the development of Sino-Japanese relations and agreed that the harmonious co-existence of the two peoples is conducive to the two countries, Asia and the world as a whole.

Besides, Wen met high-ranking Japanese officials, including Abe, and signed agreements in various fields, bringing bilateral relations to a new strategic and mutually beneficial stage.

A joint press communique was issued after talks between Wen and Abe, which said the two countries should shoulder the solemn responsibility to make constructive contributions to peace, stability and development in Asia and the whole world.

On the basis of this understanding, China and Japan would be engaged in mutually beneficial cooperation in an all-round way at bilateral, regional as well as international levels, in joint efforts to make contributions to their own countries, the whole of Asia and the world at large, said the communique.

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