Tokyo, Nov 25 (efe-epa).- Chinese president Xi Jinping is eager to strengthen his country’s cooperation with his Japanese counterpart, Yoshihide Suga, China’s foreign minister said Wednesday during a working visit to Tokyo.
Wang Yi conveyed Xi’s message to Japan’s prime minister of Beijing’s readiness to work with Tokyo in the fight against Covid-19 and help the global economy recover from the pandemic.
He also expressed his support to Japan in the context of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which will take place next summer after the pandemic forced its postponement by a year.
During their brief meeting, Suga and Wang also discussed the main stumbling block in their countries’ bilateral relations: the dispute over the Senkaku Islands.
Wang and his Japanese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi, had already broached the sensitive topic during a meeting on Tuesday, when they pledged to work towards reducing territorial tensions.
In a joint statement to the media after that meeting, Motegi said he had asked his counterpart to “take positive action” to ease tensions around the remote islands in the East China Sea.
Tokyo has been denouncing the regular incursion of Chinese ships in waters around the Senkaku islets, which are under Japanese control although China and Taiwan also have competing sovereignty claims over the area.
Wang pointed out that Japanese ships have also entered Chinese territorial waters, which has “forced Beijing to take necessary measures,” and reaffirmed China’s willingness to defend its sovereignty over the islands, which are known as the Diaoyudao in China.
But he stressed that both countries should consciously “avoid problems” related to the dispute, and called to “solve them appropriately through the exchange of opinions” that will be done through a series of working meetings on maritime affairs to be held by both parties.
“Neither country will be a threat to the other and we will continue to be partners,” China’s foreign minister said.
Suga repeated his foreign minister’s call to take “positive action” in the dispute, noting that stable relations between Asia’s two leading economies would benefit the region and the world, according to details of the meeting released by the Japanese government.
CONCERN OVER HONG KONG SITUATION
Suga also expressed Japan’s concern over the situation in Hong Kong, where China has imposed a controversial national security law to curb months of pro-democracy, anti-Beijing street protests.
Several prominent democracy activists and opposition delegates have already been charged under the new law, while many others have tried to flee the country for fear of being prosecuted.
On border issues related to Covid-19, Suga welcomed their agreement to open a secure travel corridor for business people, which will be opened within the next month.
Wang is the highest ranking Chinese official to visit Japan since the outbreak of the pandemic, and is also the first senior Beijing official to be received by Suga since he took office in mid-September following Shinzo Abe’s resignation for health reasons. EFE-EPA