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Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009

Xi says he wants to improve ties


Staff writer

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping arrived Monday in Japan where he stressed the importance of the "friendly" ties between China and Japan and vowed to do his best to further develop the relationship.

The visit by Xi, who is expected to succeed Hu Jintao as China's president in 2012, however, has caused a stir over his planned meeting with Emperor Akihito that was slammed by some as special treatment sidestepping Imperial protocol. But others said the meeting is a way for the Democratic Party of Japan to show respect for Xi as the next leader in Beijing.

"I believe that having Xi visit in this way as the next-generation leader is truly a wonderful thing for the future of Japan-China relations," Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said during a party in the evening at the prime minister's office.

Xi said he wants to nurture the bilateral relationship.

"Developing the ties between China and Japan not only fundamentally benefits our nations and our peoples, but it also contributes to the peace, stability and prosperity of Asia and the world," he said. "We take the long view of China-Japan relations and place importance on the development of friendly ties between China and Japan as part of our comprehensive, strategic diplomacy."

Xi is set to meet Emperor Akihito on Tuesday and hold talks with various political leaders during his three-day trip.

Hatoyama said in the morning that while the Emperor's health is the priority, the meeting with Xi is also important.

"I believe that (the meeting) is extremely significant for the future development of Japan-China relations," Hatoyama said. "I don't think it was the wrong decision" to grant Xi an audience with the Emperor.

Zhu Jianrong, a professor of Chinese studies at Toyo Gakuen University, said Xi's visit to Japan shows how China views ties with Japan right now.

"The dispatch of Xi to Japan is a demonstration of how Hu attaches great importance to Japan," Zhu said. "It is also a way for Xi to form a network to establish Japan-China ties not only for this generation but for the next."

The Imperial Household Agency normally requires foreign visitors who wish to meet the Emperor to file their requests one month in advance, but Xi's request came Nov. 26. Various media reports said Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano asked the agency to grant the meeting despite the one-month rule.

Xi's meeting has prompted conservative lawmakers to lash out at the DPJ for using the Emperor as a political tool.

The Emperor and other Imperial family members are barred by the Constitution from engaging in political activities.

Zhu, however, said the Liberal Democratic Party, which the DPJ ousted from almost 50 years in power in the August Lower House election, is using this as an opportunity to attack the ruling coalition.

"The LDP, which has been struggling to attack the DPJ, is using (Xi's meeting with the Emperor) to provoke" the DPJ, Zhu said.



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