11/21/2007, 00.00
CHINA – JAPAN
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Chinese warship on friendly visit to Japan

Relations between Beijing and Tokyo show warming signs. Wen Jiabao meets Fukuda in Singapore. But tensions remain over energy and regional politics.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A Chinese warship set sail today on its way to Japan in a sign of warming relations between the two East Asian giants. The missile destroyer Shenzhen left the port of Zhanjiang (Guangdong) on a visit described as “a first.” China and Japan, foes during World War Two, had seen their relations cool in recent years under Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s tenure of power. Their ties have warmed since former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office last year and visited Beijing with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao reciprocating in April.

Wen Jiabao, who is in Singapore for the ASEAN and East Asia summits, urged his Japanese colleague, Yasuo Fukuda, to seize the opportunities presented by improving ties between the two nations, saying relations were at an “important turning point.”

Fukuda, who replaced Shinzo Abe in September, equally expressed interest in better relations between the two economic and political giants in Asia.

The two leaders met yesterday for an hour half and set the date of the first Sino-Japanese Economic Dialogue, which will take place on December 1 and 2 in Beijing, and involve high ranking economic, finance and industrial officials on both sides.

Speaking yesterday in Hong Kong, Japan’s Ambassador to China Yuji Miyamoto said it was time for the two countries to find ways to work together more closely for the prosperity of their region which accounts for “20 per cent of the world gross domestic product.”

The two countries are however still divided over energy and regional politics. The two are facing off over oil and gas exploration and development in the East China Sea and are competing against one another to get Russia to back their respective pipeline proposals.

The two are also on opposite sides over regional political issues in East Asia.

The third East Asia summit, which begins today in Singapore, was created two years ago to bring together the countries of the region.

But Japan, concerned by China’s potential hegemony, insisted that the summit be open to Australia, New Zealand and India, all three democracies, to counterbalance Beijing’s influence.

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