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Li Zhaoxing Talks about Premier Wen Jiabao's Visit to the ROK and Japan


Premier Wen Jiabao paid an official visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan from April 10 to 13, 2007. On the flight back to Beijing, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing who accompanied Wen during the visit accepted the interview of journalists.

Li said that within a short period of 4 days Premier Wen Jiabao participated in as many as 48 activities, held friendly and in-depth talks with the leaders of the ROK and Japan, met with people from various sectors including political parties, parliament, business, culture and media and friendship organizations of the two countries, attended the China-ROK Exchange Year and the China-Japan Cultural and Sports Exchange Year events and addressed the Japanese parliament. He also reached out to the youth as well as ordinary people including teachers, students and farmers of the two countries, holding cordial talks with them and sowing the seeds of friendship. It is the first visit paid by a Chinese Premier to the ROK and Japan, China's two important neighboring countries, in seven years. Premier Wen was warmly welcomed and received by the two governments and peoples. The visit has promoted the improvement and development of China's relations with the ROK and Japan and is positively commented by the international public opinion. It is a big success and has reached the scheduled objectives.

I. Strengthening political mutual trust and promoting the healthy and stable growth of bilateral ties

The visit has deepened the all-round partnership between China and the ROK. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the establishment of China-ROK diplomatic ties and the Exchange Year between the two countries. Over the past 15 years China and the ROK have strengthened political mutual trust, expanded exchanges and cooperation in various fields and enhanced coordination and collaboration in regional and international affairs. Premier Wen pointed out that China and the ROK should take this opportunity to step up strategic communications, accelerate mutually beneficial cooperation, expand common interest, strictly follow the general direction of friendly cooperation and push for constant progress of bilateral ties. China and the ROK have become all-round partners and their bilateral cooperation is a showcase of country-to-country cooperation. The two countries share the same goal of developing the bilateral ties and the visit of Premier Wen has lifted the bilateral relations to a higher level, noted the ROK leaders.

Premier Wen and Prime Minister Abe reached important consensus on building the mutually beneficial strategic relationship between China and Japan and outlined the bilateral cooperation areas. The "ice-breaking" journey of Prime Minister Abe to China in October last year marked the breaking of political deadlock between the two countries. The recent "ice-thawing" journey to Japan of Premier Wen realized the mutual visit of leaders of the two countries, made a new good beginning for bilateral relations and helped strengthen people's confidence of the future of bilateral ties.

Premier Wen made in-depth elaborations on the building of mutually beneficial strategic relations between China and Japan from five perspectives of politics, economy, security, culture and regional and international affairs, noting that the key to developing China-Japan relations is to insist to the principles and spirit of the three political documents between the two countries. The improvement and progress of China-Japan relations benefit not only the two countries but also the entire world. China and Japan should become partners conducting mutually beneficial cooperation and striving for common development, joining hands to rejuvenate Asia and keeping committed to world peace, stability and development. He stressed that both sides should master the direction of bilateral ties from a strategic height and long-term perspective, enhance political mutual trust, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation, strengthen defense and security dialogue and exchanges and promote cultural exchanges. He indicated hope that Japan could properly handle such major and sensitive questions as the historical issue and Taiwan question.

Prime Minister Abe said that the visit of Premier Wen drove the bilateral relations to a new level. Both sides should establish mutual trust, maintain the mutual visits of government leaders and people from all walks of life, continue to forcefully push both the political and economic wheels forward to promote the bilateral relations and enhance the bilateral ties to new levels. Japan will treat history in a serious attitude and firmly follow the road of peaceful development. On the Taiwan question, Japan will continue to observe the principles and spirit described in the three political documents and refrain from supporting "Taiwan independence". Concerning the East China Sea demarcation issue, Premier Wen stressed that both sides should solve the issue through rational dialogue and consultations since "anything is difficult at beginning". Both sides agreed to make the East China Sea a sea of peace, cooperation and friendship, conduct joint development and accelerate consultations in the reciprocal principle.

The visit of Premier Wen sends a clear message. That is to develop the friendly partnership between China and Japan complies with the trend of the times and the common aspiration of the people of both countries. When addressing the Japanese parliament, Premier Wen quoted the Japanese saying that "the mountain stands firmly although wind is whistling" to indicate despite of twists and turns of the China-Japan relations the foundation of the friendship between the two peoples would remain unshakable, which has struck a responsive chord among the Japanese parliamentarians. Prime Minister Abe noted that the speech of Premier Wen would be written into the annals of history. President of the Japanese House of Councilors OOGI Chikage said that the ice of Japan-China relations thawed. A parliamentarian indicated that the speech of Premier Wen on Japan-China relations had historic influence and sent a sincere, warm and strong voice.

II. Deepening the mutually beneficial and win-win economic and trade cooperation

Economic and trade cooperation is a major component of developing the China-ROK all-round partnership and building the China-Japan mutually beneficial strategic relations. Both the ROK and Japan are important trade and investment partners of China. In 2006, China's trade volume with the ROK and Japan reached US$134.3 billion and US$200 billion and the ROK and Japan invested US$35 billion and US$58 billion in China respectively. During meetings with government officials and entrepreneurs of the two countries, Premier Wen raised the policy proposals of strengthening bilateral economic and trade cooperation. His emphasis on cooperation in such key fields as energy saving, environmental protection, energy sources, communications and new and high-tech drew positive responses from the political and business communities of the two countries.

To develop China-ROK economic and trade relations, Premier Wen proposed that both sides actively implement the Joint Study Report on the Long and Medium-term Planning of China-ROK Economic and Trade Cooperation signed between the two governments, officially sign the Investment Protection Agreement between China and the ROK at the earliest date possible, move ahead the joint research on China-ROK free trade zone, appropriately handle each other's concern on economic and trade issues and reach the goal of US$200 billion of trade volume between the two countries as soon as possible. The government officials and entrepreneurs of the ROK indicated the will of strengthening cooperation with China in areas like environmental protection, energy efficiency and communications. President Roh Moo-hyun expressed hope that the two countries could achieve common development and maintain common interest on the basis of high-level cooperation and fair competition.

During the visit to Japan, Premier Wen and Prime Minister Abe launched a high-level economic dialogue mechanism, which with historic significance signals the upgrade of bilateral economic cooperation and will play an active role in expanding economic cooperation between the two countries. Both sides will use the dialogue mechanism to exchange economic development strategies and macro economic policies, coordinate cross-sector economic cooperation and strengthen policy communications on major regional and international economic issues. The two countries held the first minister-level energy policy dialogue and signed 7 cooperation agreements covering energy and environmental protection.

In response to the concerns of business communities of the two countries, Premier Wen also elaborated the policies of the Chinese government on corporate income tax, intellectual property rights protection and China's investment environment, which helped enhance mutual understanding. Entrepreneurs of the two countries regarded the policies introduced by Premier as fair and reasonable.

III. Expanding exchanges and consolidating the feelings between the people

China's cultural exchanges with the ROK and Japan can be dated back to ancient times, and the feelings between the people build the foundation for country-to-country relations. During the visit, Premier Wen attended the opening ceremony of China-ROK Exchange Year together with the ROK leaders and participated in the opening ceremony of China-Japan Cultural and Sports Exchange Year with Japanese leaders, hoping that cultural exchanges serve as the link of building the understanding and friendship between the people. Regarding the youth exchange as the future of bilateral relations, Premier Wen and his ROK counterpart jointly met with the youth representatives of China and the ROK. He also held cordial talks with Japanese students, played baseball with school baseball team and extended welcome to the youth of ROK and Japan to come to watch the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and join the Olympic volunteer services. Premier Wen also jogged in the morning together with the ROK and Japanese residents and visited the Japanese farmers during their work and life and listened to their opinions on developing the friendly bilateral relations, which has increased the understanding and friendly feelings of the ROK and Japanese people towards China. At Japan's Arashi Mountain, Premier Wen talked with Chinese travelers, encouraging them to raise the understanding and friendship between the Chinese and Japanese people. The sincere and easy-going style of Premier Wen deeply moved the ROK and Japanese people. They indicated the sincere hope of understanding China and pushing forward the bilateral relations.

After the visit, the Chinese delegation feels deeply that it is the common aspiration of the people of the three countries to deepen friendship and conduct cooperation.

IV. Making joint efforts to maintain regional peace and stability

Taking the opportunities of holding talks and meetings and delivering speeches, Premier Wen made in-depth elaborations on China's road of peaceful development and proposal of building a harmonious world, saying that it is a long-term strategic choice and diplomatic principle of China and China's development raises opportunities instead of threats. As important countries in East Asia, China, the ROK and Japan share common interest in and shoulder important responsibilities of maintaining and promoting regional peace and stability. President Roh Moo-hyun indicated welcome to China's progress and Prime Minister Abe expressed hope of reinforcing cooperation with China in regional and international affairs and making efforts to protect the interest of both countries and the entire Asia.

On the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, Premier Wen stressed that it is the common goal of related parties to realize denuclearization on the Peninsula, achieve normalization of relations between countries concerned and build a new pattern of harmonious Northeast Asia. Cold war of whatever form in Northeast Asia must be eradicated. China is ready to keep communications and collaboration with the ROK and Japan to steadily push for new achievements of the six-party talks and the denuclearization of the Peninsula. The leaders of the ROK and Japan spoke highly of China's positive and important role in addressing the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and said they would work with China to push ahead the denuclearization process on the Peninsula and maintain peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

As Premier Wen said, the direct contacts and heart-to-heart exchanges of people are most important. The visit has strengthened mutual trust, planned for the future, deepened cooperation and enhanced friendship. Ice is thawing and spring is evident everywhere. The relations of China with its two close neighbors, the ROK and Japan, are welcoming another spring.

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