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Sincere moves needed to jumpstart China-Japan relations

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-09-18 17:30

BEIJING - There is no month like September that witnessed so many major events on the bumpy road of China-Japan relations.

A recent editorial carried by Japan's Asahi Shimbun asked China to "be aware of the foolishness" of dredging up "nationalistic sentiments over history-related issues."

Asking Chinese people to let it go at such a time just doesn't ring the bell, while it will be a wise choice if Japan sends out more positive messages on a tacit understanding.

A walk down the memory lane should serve as a reminder that China and Japan cannot discuss the current strained bilateral relations without mentioning history.

Sept 18, 1931 marks the beginning of 14-year Japanese invasion in China. Sept 3, 1945 is commemorated as the Victory Day of Anti-Japanese War. The Japanese government played a farce of nationalizing the Diaoyu Islands, China's territory, by purchasing them on Sept 11, 2012. And the two countries established diplomatic relations on Sept 29, 1972.

While China maintains a clear-cut stance on history-related issues, the Japanese government's provoking remarks and attitudes toward history only left tension simmering in the mutual distrust, giving way easily to rivalry and hostility.

Meanwhile, the soured diplomatic relations could have taken a toll on the economic cooperation as more Chinese shun Japanese-brand products following the "Diaoyu purchase."

Data from Japan External Trade Organization shows Japanese exports to China dropped by 16.7 percent in the first six months of 2013, compared with a decline of 14.8 percent in the second half of 2012, the lowest level in four years. China's position as Japan's largest export market has also been replaced for the first time in five years.

China and Japan share great economic cooperation potential. To explore it, sincere negotiations are needed due to the current situation in bilateral political and economic cooperation.

China understands that it will take time to resolve history-related issues and is not in a hurry to find a solution overnight. When China and Japan established diplomatic relations in 1972, leaders of the two countries chose to balance their disputes, including the Diaoyu Islands, to focus on cooperation.

The two countries used to maintain tranquility over the disputed islands for many years until the balance was broken by Tokyo's provocative decision last September.

The brief exchange of words between President Xi Jinping and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Russia earlier this month shows Beijing's willingness to bring the bilateral relations back on the right track. As Japan has been proposing bilateral dialogues with China, it is time for the country to send out sincere messages.