11:04 GMT27 February 2021
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    China and Japan are seeking ways to mend fences while mutual distrust with regard to maritime and territorial dispute cannot be dissolved overnight, Chinese scholar Da Zhigang told Sputnik. According to Da, the solution of most sensitive issues needs to be postponed.

    While Beijing and Tokyo have vowed to open a new chapter in bilateral relations, Washington is pushing Japan to bolster the US-Japanese alliance aimed at containing China in the region.

    Speaking to Sputnik China, Da Zhigang, director of the Institute of Northeast Asia under the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, opined that while China and Japan are seeking a thaw in bilateral relations, reports about US-Japanese military plans cast a shadow over the prospects of cooperation.

    "The United States and Japan are developing a joint action plan against a token enemy — armed Chinese fishermen," Da said. "The area in which Japan plans to provide security involves a zone of territorial dispute with China. Japan diversifies security cooperation with other countries and seeking to deepen mutual understanding, create mechanisms for comprehensive cooperation with China, while at the same time paying close attention to cooperation with the United States and Europe."

    He emphasized that China is concerned about Japan and the US's actions. Still, "it is necessary to understand that many historical issues are not solved overnight," the Chinese scholar added.

    "We hope that Japanese politicians will pay more attention to solving the problems of Sino-Japanese relations," Da said. "Japan should focus its mind on the situation for the sake of Sino-Japanese friendship as well as peace and stability not only in Northeast and East Asia but throughout the world."

    Da believes that the territorial dispute in the East China Sea should not overshadow the recent positive trend in relations between Tokyo and Beijing.

    He pointed out that after Abe's October visit to China a hope emerged for an improvement in Sino-Japanese relations. Da cited reports saying that Xi is expected make an official visit to Japan during the G20 summit in Osaka which will take place on June 28-29, 2019.

    "We must understand that Sino-Japanese relations are now entering a new phase," the scholar said. "China and Japan still have some disagreements and disputes with regard to the maritime zone, the demarcation of the border, the joint development and security of [disputed] territories."

    The question then arises as to whether these disputes could co-exist with trade and economic cooperation between the two Asian giants.

    According to Da, these numerous territorial and security issues cannot be solved overnight: "The solution of these issues needs to be postponed, they must be mulled over in the long run."

    On October 26, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that they were ready to "carve out a new era for China and Japan."

    "From competition to coexistence, Japanese and Chinese bilateral relations have entered a new phase," Abe said.

    However, the same month, Kyodo News reported that a group of US policy experts recommended that Japan's Self-Defense Forces and the Pentagon form a "combined joint task force" to counter challenges posed by China over Taiwan, as well as the South and East China seas.

    Moreover, the news agency noted that the US and Japan are going to work out a joint military plan to counter a potential Beijing's threat to the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands in the East China sea by March 2019. Earlier, in January 2018, Japan and the United States carried out computer military exercises on joint protection of the Diaoyu Islands from China's invasion.

    The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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