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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

It went on to say China and Japan should enhance defense dialogues and personnel and cultural exchanges as well as a wide range of cooperation in such fields as energy, environmental protection, financing and IPR protection. Exchanges between youths, media, sister cities and nongovernmental groups of the two countries would be encouraged. Wen and Abe also signed an agreement on April 11 to fight global warming and the two largest economies in Asia released an accord to cooperate in the energy sector. In addition, China lifted its four-year ban on Japanese rice imports.

The two sides also exchanged ideas on regional and international affairs. They agreed that the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula should be resolved peacefully through dialogue and said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations could play an important role in regional cooperation in East Asia, on the basis of the principles of openness, transparency and tolerance.

Japan was upbeat about the visit of the Chinese premier. "It was important this time for both sides to show concretely the development of a strategic relationship," Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki said at a press conference in Tokyo. "That purpose has been achieved quite successfully." Premier Wen's speech "was very forward-looking and made positive remarks on a broad range of topics," Shiozaki said.

Trade cooperation between China and Japan has brought significant interests to both sides and has become the base for the stability and development of bilateral ties. Bilateral trade has almost quadrupled in the last 10 years. According to the Japan External Trade Organization, China is Japan's top trading partner with total trade exceeding $249 billion last year, up from $64 billion in 1997. And Japanese investors have poured more than $53 billion in China in the past two decades, becoming one of China's largest groups of foreign investors.

Wen addressed Japan's parliament, the first by a Chinese leader in 22 years, on April 12, in which he proposed to enhance bilateral ties, and stated China's attitude on the historical issues that had damaged the bilateral ties both politically and economically. He said, "History shows us that peace and prosperity between us are very important to the people of both nations. We must cherish our long history of friendship of more than 2,000 years, to ensure long-term mutual prosperity."

During Wen's trip, China and Japan jointly launched a high-level economic dialogue mechanism to further promote economic and trade ties between the two countries. The first meeting of the economic dialogue mechanism is expected to be held this year in Beijing. Strengthening economic cooperation was a major component of the Sino-Japanese strategic, mutually beneficial relationship, said Wen. The launch of the mechanism is widely considered as the highlight of Wen's Japan trip.

"Just like Prime Minister Abe's visit to China was an ice-breaking event, I hope my visit will be similar in its impact on improving relations," Wen said.

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