Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A senior Chinese government official, who is one of the closest aides and longtime friend of President Xi Jinping, is preparing an official visit to Japan next month to reduce tensions between the two countries over disputes in the East China Sea, ahead of November's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing. Meanwhile, a Vietnamese representative is in the Chinese capital to ease tensions over South China Sea, where China, Vietnam and the Philippines are at loggerheads.
Li Xiaolin, the youngest daughter of Li Xiannian, former president of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo before he took office on 26 December 2012.
A friend of the Chinese president since childhood, she has also secretly met Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso and ruling Liberal Democratic Party deputy leader Masahiko Komura in the spring of last year.
Since they came to power, Prime Minister Abe and his government have not with Chinese President Xi Jinping because of diplomatic tensions over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.
The atmosphere did not improve when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited last December Tokyo's Yazukuni shrine, symbol of Japan's colonial and militarist past.
The recent meeting between China's Vice President Li Yuanchao and a group of Japanese lawmakers in Beijing was a step to improve relations. During the meeting, he told his guests that the two countries should "overlook minor disagreements for the sake of common interests" and make an effort to mend bilateral relations.
Mainland China is trying to do the same with Hanoi following a standoff over a Chinese oil rig in the South China Sea, which was later removed after it completed its work.
The oil rig deployment had riled Vietnamese nationalists, who protested against foreign companies in major cities.
A senior Vietnamese Communist Party official arrived in China today on a fence-mending mission as the two countries seek to repair ties badly strained.
Le Hong Anh, fifth in Vietnam's Communist Party Politburo, is in Beijing today and tomorrow at the invitation of the Communist Party of China.
In the South China Sea, Beijing claims sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracel Islands, which are also claimed by Vietnam, Brunei, Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan.
The resource-rich islands are almost uninhabited, but are thought to hold large reserves of oil and natural gas, and other raw materials.
Beijing's hegemony is strategic in nature with regards to trade and oil and natural gas seabed development, in a region crossed by two thirds of the world's maritime trade.