China said Tuesday that it welcomes Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's interest in cooperating with Beijing's initiative of trying to build closer economic links along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.

"We believe the One Belt, One Road initiative can be a new platform and a testing field for China and Japan to achieve mutually beneficial cooperation and common development," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a news briefing, referring to the project by its official name.

"We welcome Japan to explore cooperation with China under the framework," she said, a day after Abe said Japan is prepared to contribute to the initiative if certain conditions are met.