TOKYO – Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has called for fresh joint efforts by China and Japan for the cause of peace and friendship between the two countries to "set sail again".
In a signed article in Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun on Tuesday, titled "Let the Cause of Peace and Friendship between China and Japan Set Sail Again", Li said, "I am coming here to promote the long-term, healthy and steady development of China-Japan relations."
The premier arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday evening for an official visit till May 11 at the invitation of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
His visit is the first in eight years by a Chinese premier, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the two countries.
During the visit, Li will attend the 7th China-Japan-South Korea leaders' meeting, which will reboot the high-level interaction among the three Asian nations after a two-and-a-half year suspension.
China and Japan are important neighbors, Li said. "Although there are dozens of direct flights between Beijing and Tokyo each day and it takes just a little over three hours flying between the two cities, we have walked a long way in recent years to improve and develop China-Japan ties."
It is in the interests of the people of China, Japan and all other countries for the two, who wield influence in Asia as well as the rest of the world, to enhance friendship and cooperation, he said.
In recent years, relations between the two countries have experienced twists and turns, and exchange and cooperation in various areas have been affected, Li said.
China and Japan are the world's second and third largest economies respectively and Asia's top two economies. Li said he has often thought that "if China-Japan relations can always stay on the right track of healthy and stable development, it would not only bring more benefits to people of the two countries, but also create a stronger boost to the peace and stability and development and prosperity of Northeast Asia and the whole world."
Currently, China-Japan ties are showing a momentum of improvement and standing at the crossroads of returning to normal track, he said.
Li stressed the importance of adhering to the principles and spirit of the four key political documents signed between the two countries. These are the 1972 Sino-Japanese Joint Statement, the 1978 China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship, the 1998 China-Japan Joint Declaration, and a joint statement on advancing strategic and mutually beneficial relations inked in 2008.
"It has been proved by the reality that as long as we stick to the principles and spirit of the four political documents, China-Japan relations will go smoothly. Otherwise, the ties will suffer setbacks," Li said in the article.
The same year that China and Japan signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, China also launched the historic process of its reform and opening up. "Looking to the future, China, as the largest developing country, still sees development as its top priority," the premier said.
"Only in a peaceful external environment and a stable neighboring environment can China, Japan and other countries in the region jointly develop. It is our belief that an open path of peaceful development is destined to be wider and wider," Li said.
On China-Japan-South Korea relations, Li urged the three countries to promote regional stability and development, and safeguard free trade and a rule-based multilateral trade system by accelerating the establishment of a trilateral free trade zone and negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
On cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative, the premier said he had learned from some Japanese companies that they are willing to share the enormous opportunities created by the initiative.
Li said the two economies are highly complementary. There are broad prospects for the two countries to expand practical cooperation in fields such as energy conservation and environmental protection, scientific and technological innovation, high-end manufacturing, finance, sharing economy, and healthcare and pension. There is also great potential for the companies of the two countries to conduct third-party market cooperation.
During the visit, the premier is expected to witness the signing of cooperation deals in health and medical science, the service sector and social security.
The two countries are also expected to sign a currency swap deal. China is expected to grant Japan a renminbi qualified foreign institutional investor quota.
China and Japan are now faced with new opportunities to upgrade their mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation, Li said.
He said the two countries should strengthen cooperation in culture and tourism and have people from both sides conduct exchanges more effectively on more platforms.
During the visit, China will present Japan with a pair of crested ibis to reflect Chinese people's friendship with the Japanese.
China and Japan will also facilitate exchange of visits between their young people to enable them to learn from one another and get to know one another so that they, enlightened by real history, can choose the path for the future, Li said.