Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) to reset relations after an escalation in bilateral tensions, invoking a 2006 visit to Beijing during his first administration.
“Since there are issues, it is all the more important to have a leaders’ meeting,” Abe said in an interview in the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo. “I visited China as prime minister and met with [former Chinese president] Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and we shared the view that we should develop our ties based on a strategic, mutually beneficial relationship. Now is the time to go back to that starting point.”
Abe’s call on Friday is his most explicit yet for a summit since China’s declaration last month of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) that overlaps with Japan’s over the East China Sea.
Abe has yet to hold a summit with either Xi or South Korean President Park Geun-hye, amid continuing territorial disputes with both neighbors. The impasse is a contrast from Abe’s 2006-2007 term in office, when he repaired ties with China that had frayed under his predecessor, former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi — whose visits to a national war shrine stirred Chinese resentment.
Asked whether China is open to a summit with Japan, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei (洪磊) told reporters in Beijing on Friday that “the problem is Japan cannot look straight at history and reality, and do the right thing on certain issues. So we once again ask Japan to look at history and reality, and pursue the same direction as China.”
The US urged China on Friday to set up an emergency hotline with Japan and South Korea to avoid confusion in its ADIZ.
Washington does not recognize Beijing’s ADIZ and has called on China not to press ahead with its implementation.
“As we work through this process, they need to do a few things right now to immediately lower tensions,” US Department of State deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
“China should work with other countries, including Japan and South Korea, to establish confidence-building measures, including emergency communications channels to address the dangers that its recent announcement has created,” she added.
Meanwhile, Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop defied a stern rebuke from Beijing yesterday to repeat concerns that the ADIZ has increased regional tensions.
“Australia is concerned about peace and stability in our region, and we don’t want to see any escalation of tensions, we want to see a de-escalation,” she told reporters in Beijing when asked about Australia’s stance on the ADIZ.
Her remarks came after China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) on Friday reproached Bishop for Australia’s critical stance on the ADIZ.
Wang accused Australia of “jeopardizing bilateral mutual trust,” and said “the entire Chinese society and the general public are deeply dissatisfied” with Australia’s comments, Australian broadcaster ABC reported.
Bishop dismissed suggestions that the ADIZ dispute had damaged relations and said that negotiations on several issues, including a free-trade deal between the two countries, had been “productive.”