International ties

Cementing ties with Asian neighbors

By Wang Hui (
Updated: 2010-05-28 16:41
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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao starts a four-nation tour of Asia on Friday. The trip will take him to Republic of Korea (ROK), Japan, Mongolia and Myanmar. He will also attend the annual meeting of leaders from China, Japan and ROK, scheduled for the coming weekend on Jeju Island, ROK. Wen's trip is widely regarded as a goodwill gesture from Beijing to cement ties with its Asian neighbors. The much expected signing of a joint document that projects trilateral cooperation into the year 2020 will turn a new chapter in China's relationship with the two important neighbors.

The trilateral meeting has come at a time when skirmishes over some sensitive regional and bilateral issues have clouded a generally rosy picture of Beijing's ties with Seoul and Tokyo. In this sense, the Chinese premier's trip is also expected to build mutual trust and bridge the gaps on issues that concern each side.

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Beijing and Seoul maintain sound relations that have sailed smoothly over the years. Apart from a robust trade tie, exchanges between the two peoples also are flourishing. The two countries hold similar or same views on a wide range of regional and international issues. However, the current escalation of tension on the Korean Peninsula pushes Sino-ROK ties to a subtle situation. Some media in ROK vented their anger at China too when lashing out at their neighbor to the north. Such overreaction will further complicate the issue and does a disservice to defusing the tension in a peaceful way. Seoul and Beijing share a common will to maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula. The two should join hands at this critical moment to prevent a standoff to escalate into a regional crisis.

For China-Japan relations, the Chinese government has a long-term commitment to developing a good neighborly friendship with Japan. Recently, politicians and media in the island nation have been pointing fingers at the Chinese navy's drills and China's other lawful activities in the East China Sea. There are other signs too that the disputes over the East China Sea issue may snowball.

Constraint is the key for the two countries to work out solutions to address the long-standing headache. It needs strong political will and insightful statesmanship to prevent the grudges before they overshadow the general good prospect in the Sino-Japanese relationship. However, the current political situation in Tokyo may increase the uncertainty in this regard. It is hoped the consensus reached between Wen and his Japanese counterpart this time will not be short-lived should there be any changes in the island country's political scene.