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Friday, May 9, 2008

Waseda hears Hu's upbeat spin

Chinese leader vows to use war memories to enhance ties; students protest over Tibet

Staff writer

China is still a developing country struggling with grave structural problems and needs stable relations with Japan and other nations to ensure its development, Chinese President Hu Jintao said Thursday in a speech at Waseda University in Tokyo.

News photo
Refusing to be silenced: Protesters holding Tibet flags stage a rally Thursday at Waseda University in Tokyo ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao's speech at the campus later in the day. KYODO PHOTO

"'China will never fight for hegemony for good, nor try to expand (its territory)," Hu told the Okuma Auditorium audience at Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's alma mater.

Although he did not mention Tibet in his afternoon speech, more than 100 students and protesters — some carrying Tibetan flags — protested Hu's visit on campus, urging China to end its repression of Tibet.

"China is still the world's largest developing country," Hu said. "Its population is large, its basis is weak, and its development is unbalanced."

Hu's speech at the top-flight university is part of a five-day summit designed to cement China's "mutually beneficial strategic relationship" with Japan. This year is the 30th anniversary of China's Reform and Opening-up Policy, and maintaining it is an "unshakable conclusion" China's people have reached over the past 30 years, Hu said.

Touching on history, Hu said the war Japan waged on China brought "enormous disaster" to the Chinese people but also caused great hardship for the Japanese.

China will retain its memories of the war not for the sake of animosity, but for building future relations based on the lessons of the past, Hu said.

In a clear departure from China's past stance on war issues, the joint statement Hu and Fukuda issued Wednesday mentioned little about history, and Hu's emphasis in Thursday's speech focused on the importance of maintaining friendly ties with Japan.

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The Japan Times

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