Edited and translated by People`s Daily Online
This year has been one of transition for Northeast Asia. The flare-up of conflict on the Korean Peninsula last year has been eased, and the tense bilateral relations between China and Japan as well as South Korea and Japan have improved. The Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat (TCS) involving South Korea, China and Japan has been established in Seoul, and pragmatic cooperation between China and Japan has been progressing smoothly.
Closer cooperation between China, Japan and South Korea is not only in the interests of the three countries but it is also beneficial to world peace and development.
China has acted as a positive promoter and equal participant in the pragmatic cooperation between China, Japan and South Korea. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Japan’s earthquake-hit areas with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak during the fourth trilateral meeting between the leaders of China, Japan and South Korea in May, which has improved the feelings of the three countries’ people toward others.
Wen put forward a vision of future cooperation when meeting with South Korean and Japanese leaders during the East Asia Summit in November. The contents of the vision include ensuring the completion of joint research on the establishment of a free trade zone between the three countries by the end of this year, initiating related negotiations in 2012 and concluding the negotiations on investment agreements as soon as possible.
It also includes conducting comprehensive joint rail and water transportation cooperation, promoting the construction of an information service network in Northeast Asia, exploring cooperation in new industries, accelerating industrial upgrades and economic structural adjustments, stepping up financial cooperation and expanding the size of currency swaps.
The three countries have incentives to cooperate but are also faced with various challenges in this regard, including issues concerning national feelings caused by past and present conflicts, disputes over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights, North Korea`s nuclear program and other regional security issues, the Cold War mentality and unwanted intervention from other countries. In addition, the weak agricultural competitiveness of Japan and South Korea is also one of the main obstacles to the conclusion of a free trade agreement among the three countries.
In view of the challenges, China`s former State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan stressed that the three countries should take the whole situation into consideration, and work together to resolve disputes and to achieve win-win results despite conflicts.
Former South Korean Foreign Minister Kong No-myong also noted that as next year marks the 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and Japan, and the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and South Korea, the three countries should take this opportunity to actively promote friendly cooperation.
Japan’s former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said that the three countries should promote regional cooperation and integration in a spirit of brotherhood.
China, Japan and South Korea will work together to create a new era in this unstable and noisy world.