Japan and China put on best faces for Hu’s visit

by Reiji Yoshida

Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura agreed Thursday in Tokyo to do their utmost to make Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit a success as they officially announced his May 6-10 trip.

Yang is in Tokyo for four days to pave the way for Hu’s visit as the two countries explore ways to mend a bilateral relationship once badly frayed by history issues and still prone to nationalist sentiment from both sides.

However, whether Yang can succeed at generating a friendly atmosphere has been put in doubt by the China’s bloody crackdown on Tibet.

Asked by a reporter about the issue, the foreign minister merely repeated China’s official stance, harshly portraying the Dalai Lama as a violent political leader who has allegedly masterminded secession movements in China.

The Dalai Lama has flatly denied such allegations.

“I emphasized (to Komura) that this is an internal affair of China,” Yang said after talks with his Japanese counterpart in Tokyo.

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people who heads its government in exile in India, has “systematically instigated” violent riots calling for independence, said Yang, who claimed the majority of the international community supports China’s stance.

Komura pledged that Japan will do its best to make Hu’s visit a success and said the two ministers agreed to further develop “mutually beneficial strategic relationship.”

The two ministers also agreed to cooperate further in the investigation into pesticide-tainted imported frozen dumplings from China that caused food-poisoning outbreaks in Japan, Komura said.

Japan also will help China with efforts to protect the environment and improve energy efficiency, he said.

“Japan believes it should make the visit by Hu a definite success,” Komura said.

He did not directly criticize China over the Tibet issue but urged it to “secure more transparency” and maintain a “dialogue” with the Tibetan people.

Yang responded that China has already disclosed much about the Tibet situation and is willing to have a dialogue with the Dalai Lama’s group if it stops calling for independence and puts an end to the violent protests targeting the Beijing Olympics.