Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday for a six-day stay that will lay the groundwork for an upcoming exchange of visits by top government leaders of Japan and China.

Hu, 55, currently ranks fifth in the Chinese party’s hierarchy. Seen as one of the top contenders to succeed President Jiang Zemin in the future, Hu held talks with Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto over dinner in the evening.

During his stay here, Hu will meet with Japanese officials to discuss arrangements for Jiang’s visit to Japan, scheduled for September. Prior to Jiang’s visit, Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi is expected to visit China. Tokyo hopes that the exchange of visits by top leaders will beef up bilateral ties and help build new relations for the 21st century, government officials said.

Hu will also meet with leaders of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and other parties to exchange ideas on ways to enhance Sino-Japanese relations. He is also expected to exchange views on the East Asian economic situation, as well as relations with the United States and Russia.

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