In his first teleconference with Chinese President Xi Jinping on October 8, Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated he discussed issues concerning Senkaku Islands, Hong Kong, and the Xinjiang areas. Following their 30-minute chat, the leaders decided to work towards constructive and stable Japan-China ties, ‘since next year marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of bilateral ties,’ stated Kishida.

According to China’s state-run media, Xi Jinping told Japan PM Fumio Kishida that he will endeavour to enhance “conversation and collaboration” with Japan while pushing the neighbouring country to “handle disputes” over sensitive issues like Taiwan relations in a proper manner. It was the first meeting between Japan’s and China’s leaders since Yoshihide Suga, Kishida’s predecessor, assumed office in September last year. Xi Jinping expressed the hope that the two countries will ‘meet halfway’ and use this occasion to open up new avenues for bilateral cooperation.

China urges Japan to enhance mutual trust and collaboration

Meanwhile, the media report states Xi told Kishida that China would welcome Japan’s participation in the Beijing Winter Olympics, which is scheduled to be held in February next year.

China has come under fire from democratic countries for alleged human rights violations in areas such as Hong Kong, Tibet, and Xinjiang. Several human rights organisations from around the world have petitioned the International Olympic Committee to overturn its decision to allow Beijing to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, citing the US accusation of ‘genocide’ in Xinjiang.

As per Chinese media, Xi sent Japan PM Kishida a congratulatory message on October 4, saying the two Asian countries should strengthen conversation and communication while enhancing mutual trust and collaboration in a bid to construct a bilateral relationship that fulfils the requirements of the new era.

A peek into the history of Japan-China ties

China is one of Japan’s most important commercial partners, but the two countries are at loggerheads over the sovereignty of the East China Sea’s uninhabited Senkaku Islands. Despite Tokyo’s complaints, Beijing claims the Japanese-administered islands, which it refers to as Diaoyu and to which, it frequently sends coast guard vessels.

Moreover, Japan has joined the United States and other Western countries in condemning Chinese pressure on democratic Taiwan. Though Taiwan is self-governed, Beijing, however, regards it as a renegade colony and wants to reunify with the mainland. While preserving stable bilateral relations is crucial for the area and the international community as a whole, Kishida has stated that Japan will “speak what needs to be said” about China’s alleged violations of human rights and the rule of law.

Since their separation in 1949 due to a civil conflict, China and Taiwan have been governed independently. Since independence-leaning Tsai Ing-wen took over as Taiwan’s president, their relations have deteriorated.

Image: AP