Adopting a policy of containment with regard to China’s growing clout would be a mistake, the Chinese ambassador to Japan said Tuesday.

Such a policy will not work, Chen Yonghua said in a speech during a meeting hosted by Kyodo News at a Tokyo hotel.

“The development of China is a trend of the times, and any efforts to contain it won’t work. That has already been proved in the Cold War era,” he said.

Japan and China should “regard each other as partners, not a threat, and (also) as an opportunity, not as a challenge,” he said.

Chen was invited to the meeting to discuss the Sino-Japanese relationship. In his speech, he first emphasized that Beijing seeks peaceful economic development through “win-win” relations with neighboring countries, including Japan.

Although China’s gross domestic product exceeded that of Japan in 2010, the two countries are still at “different stages of development” and their interests are deeply intertwined, he said.

“(The bilateral relationship) is still characterized by mutual dependency and mutual complement,” Chen said.

“We have an inseparable relationship.”

He also warned that if any political forces in Japan try to “propagandize about the threat” of China for their own domestic gain, it would only damage stability in the region and “do harm to themselves.”

Asked about its aggressive landfill work in the South China Sea, Chen claimed that China has maintained sovereign power over the Spratly Islands for centuries and said Beijing is just trying to defend its long-held rights.

On Jan. 2, China conducted its first-ever landing on the new airstrip on Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea, raising concerns among neighboring countries because the facility is large enough to handle military aircraft.

Chen, however, claimed the test-landing was conducted to meet international law and the airfield can also be used for life-saving rescue missions for accidents at sea.

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