Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Japan China trade: 160 billion $, still shadowing relations!

Chinese Ambassador to Japan Wang Yi on Monday renewed
his call on Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to
stop visiting Tokyo's war-related Yasukuni Shrine and
warned such visits could adversely affect bilateral
economic ties.

The shrine visits have become "a serious diplomatic
problem" between Japan and China, Wang said at the Japan
National Press Club in Tokyo.

It is "difficult" for people in China to tolerate the
Japanese leader's repeated visits to the Shinto shrine
as it honors convicted Class-A Japanese World War II
criminals along with war dead, Wang said.

"I ask the Japanese leader to reconsider (the visits)
and refrain from doing something that harms the feelings
of Chinese people," said Wang, a former vice foreign

Wang indirectly linked Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni to
Japan's bid to become a permanent member of the U.N.
Security Council.

"It is better for Japan to win trust by people in
neighboring countries" for that end, he said.

But he went into no further detail about Japan's U.N.
ambitions, saying, "China, as a responsible permanent
member of the UNSC, refrains from expressing its
position on a demand from a particular country" related
to the envisaged expansion of the council.

China is among the Asian countries that strongly react
to Koizumi's paying homage at Yasukuni Shrine and has
urged him not to do so as memories of the Japanese
military's aggression are still fresh there.

Despite the calls, Koizumi has gone to the shrine four
times since taking office in 2001, saying he does so to
renew his resolve to create a world free of war.

Wang said Monday that Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni
Shrine could adversely affect "bilateral economic
relations that have largely developed."

The ambassador said the amount of bilateral trade for
2004 is likely to come to $160 billion, which indicates
that "China will be Japan's largest economic partner in
the not-so-distant future."

He welcomed the economic trend and said the positive
prospect should not be clouded by protracted political
rows between the two countries stemming from Koizumi's
visits to the shrine.

Wang also voiced hope that ongoing disputes over China's
projects to explore for natural gas in the East China
Sea will be settled through dialogue, in particular the
bilateral senior working-level talks on the issue
planned for later this month.

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