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China, Japan summit ruled out
Publication Date : 30-07-2013
Beijing ruled out the possibility of an upcoming leaders' summit with Tokyo on Monday, urging the Japanese government to take concrete measures to improve strained ties rather than brandishing "empty slogans".
The message from a government official, who declines to be named, comes after Isao Iijima, a close adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said on Sunday that Abe could hold a summit with President Xi Jinping in the "not-too-distant future".
Iijima said his assumption is based on his four-day visit to Beijing in mid-July, during which he met "several prominent figures"close to Xi, The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported.
But the official said that Iijima did not meet any Chinese government officials.
"What Iijima told reporters on Sunday is not true and is fabricated, based on the needs of Japan's domestic politics,"he said.
His visit to China was mainly to discuss his tour of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and there was no consultation between the two sides on a leaders' meeting, according to the official.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a brief statement on Monday that Iijima has not conducted official activities during his visit to China, and Chinese officials were not in contact with him.
Iijima's remarks were widely quoted by the international media, with the world watching to see how Asia's two biggest economies are to mend ties that have been hit by the dispute over the Diaoyu Islands.
However, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference on Monday, "No immediate schedule for a leadership summit has been set."
Iijima is not the only politician in Japan playing up the possibility of a leaders' summit.
During his just-concluded visit to Southeast Asia, Abe also repeatedly called for dialogue with Beijing without any conditions attached.
Beijing responded to Abe's move by saying its door is always open for talks, but the problem lies with Japan's unwillingness to face up to reality and start serious consultations with China.
Japan should "stop using empty slogans about so-called dialogue to gloss over disagreements", Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told China Daily on Monday.
Analysts said that as Abe faces huge pressure to break the deadlock with China, what he and his administration want now is to achieve progress in China ties with the minimum price paid.
Given Japan's hard-line stance on the territorial dispute, it is unlikely that the leaders of the two countries will agree on a meeting that cannot make progress on existing problems, experts said.
Liang Yunxiang, a professor of Japanese studies at Peking University, said Abe hopes to improve relations with China on a macro level, because worsening ties cause great concern in Japanese society, and extending an olive branch to China gives him the diplomatic initiative.
But Liang said fragile Sino-Japanese relations will not improve if Japan continues to send "dialogue signals"without showing sincerity.
"Tokyo needs to realise that the situation hinges on when it pulls back from its previous false claims,"he said.
Jin Canrong, deputy head of the School of International Studies at China's Renmin University, said the message from Iijima is mainly aimed at helping Abe shake off the pressure to improve ties with China from Japan's economic sector and the United States.
During his troubled 2006-07 term in office, Abe tried to mend ties with China that had become frayed during the five-year stint of his predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi.
Li Wei, director of the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said: "Japan has all the time resorted to empty talk about improving China-Japan relations, but it never engages in substantive actions.
"It is doing so (sending out information about bilateral meetings) to make the Japanese people believe that the Abe government is making efforts to mend the Sino-Japanese relationship."
The earliest date for a meeting between Xi and Abe on the international stage might be the G20 Leaders' Summit in St Petersburg, Russia, on September 5-6.But the Chinese official said that based on the status quo, it is unlikely that there will be a China-Japan leaders' summit during this event, and not even at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum meeting in Indonesia in October.
Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki arrived in Beijing on Monday for a two-day visit. Japanese media once again played up Saiki's trip. The Kyodo News reported that Saiki will discuss the leaders' summit with Chinese officials during his visit.
The Chinese official said, "Saiki is the newly appointed vice-foreign minister and he is just undertaking a routine visit after taking the job."
Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin will hold talks with Saiki and are expected to raise the Diaoyu Islands issue with him.
Cai Hong in Tokyo and Zhang Yunbi in Beijing contributed to this story.