China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, addressed concerns over Japan’s evolving stance on China during a commemorative event marking the 45th anniversary of the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Wang expressed his apprehension about Japan’s recent cognitive shift, emphasizing that it has regressed in its perception of China, particularly on sensitive issues like Taiwan. He urged Japan to honor the four political documents that form the bedrock of China-Japan relations.
Wang Yi, a key figure in the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, the Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, delivered these remarks via video link during the opening ceremony of the 19th Beijing-Tokyo Forum on Thursday.
Addressing the bilateral relationship between China and Japan, Wang underscored the significance of both nations upholding their mutual commitments and maintaining the political foundations upon which their relationship is built.
The four political documents signed by China and Japan, including the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship, serve as the cornerstone of their relationship. Wang noted that the core of these agreements lies in the vital understanding and consensus reached between the two nations on major sensitive issues, such as historical matters and the Taiwan question.
According to Wang, the historical record demonstrates that the smooth development of the relationship between the two countries can only be ensured when both sides faithfully abide by these agreements. Failure to do so could lead to a divergence from the right course.
Wang further pointed out that Japan’s current perception of China has noticeably deteriorated. Japan has mischaracterized China as an unprecedented and significant strategic challenge while also frequently transgressing boundaries on the Taiwan issue, thus undermining the political foundations of the bilateral relationship.
China’s expectation, Wang conveyed, is for Japan to return to the original intent of the treaty, rectify its understanding of China, and adhere to the principles outlined in the four political documents signed by both countries. This involves keeping promises on major sensitive issues and effectively implementing the political consensus that “China and Japan are cooperative partners and pose no threat to each other” in both policy and action.
Wang also addressed the people-to-people sentiments between the two nations, which have been influenced by the broader context of China-U.S. relations. Recent years have seen a persistently low level of mutual sentiment between the citizens of China and Japan. Wang underscored the importance of rectifying this and emphasized the need for both countries to work together to improve this situation.
Wang reported that people-to-people exchanges have gradually resumed, and several activities have been carried out as the pandemic situation has eased. Notably, athletes from China and Japan achieved outstanding results during the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, creating exciting moments for spectators.
In a bid to enhance the strained bilateral relationship, Wang suggested promoting official relations through non-governmental exchanges. He urged more face-to-face interactions between the peoples of both nations, with a particular focus on engaging the younger generation.
Recent results from a joint public opinion survey conducted by both China and Japan have indicated a rising percentage of Japanese citizens with a negative impression of China compared to the previous year. Similarly, the percentage of Chinese citizens with a negative impression of Japan has also slightly increased.
Wang’s address at the Beijing-Tokyo Forum underscores the significance of the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship as both countries grapple with the evolving dynamics of their relationship. The call for a return to the original intent of the treaty and a commitment to the principles outlined in the four political documents reflects China’s desire for stability in its relations with Japan. The coming years will reveal whether these appeals lead to a reinvigorated and more constructive China-Japan relationship.