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China welcomes plan to tackle its air pollution

Kyodo

China on Thursday expressed eagerness to promote economic ties with Japan and welcomed a Japanese initiative to tackle air pollution in the emerging economic powerhouse.

Vice Commerce Minister Chen Jian and former State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan expressed their enthusiasm in separate meetings in Beijing with a delegation from the Japan-China Economic Association, a private-sector bilateral economic promotion body based in Tokyo.

The initiative, which the Japanese group called a cooperative network to reduce air pollution in China, involves environmental technology and knowhow pooled from by about 500 Japanese firms, including Toyota Motor Corp., Electric Power Development Co., Toshiba Corp. and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd.

“We would like to cooperate with Japan as Japan possesses rich knowhow to cope with pollution,” Chen was quoted as saying by a delegation member.

Tang said that despite tensions over the Senkaku Islands, the two nations should promote economic exchanges and cooperation because the two economies are so interdependent.

“Politics and economics are inseparable, but because economic ties between China and Japan are so close, the two countries should promote economic exchanges and cooperation as scheduled,” Tang was quoted as saying.

Tang, who is also president of the China-Japan Friendship Association, welcomed the Japanese initiative.

Chen said that China wants to work with Japan to break the impasse in bilateral relations by promoting economic exchanges, especially in energy-saving and environmental protection.

He also said Beijing will make efforts to conclude negotiations on a trilateral free-trade agreement with Japan and South Korea “at an early date.”

Tang said that China and Japan “must control today’s critical situation, cool down tensions and achieve a soft-landing to bring (bilateral relations) onto a normal and stable path.”

Tang urged Japan to “squarely face history,” and “move in the same direction with China,” without elaborating.