By Tom McGregor, CCTV.com Panview Opinion page commentator and editor
China and Japan have often confronted each other over diplomatic disputes, but Beijing and Tokyo still recognize the value of maintaining economic cooperation to spur rising bilateral trade and investments.
On Monday, Chinese Premier met the Japanese Association for Promotion of International Trade (JAPIT), and called for bringing "back Sino-Japan ties on the right track," according to China.org.
Former speaker of Japan's House of Parliament (Diet) Yohei Kono reaffirmed Tokyo's commitment for good bilateral relations through economic cooperation.
Such meetings can be perceived as simple diplomatic protocol, but to see Beijing and Tokyo strive to reach common ground in the fields of the economy, cultural and people-to-people exchanges demonstrate how the two nations are working together on areas of vital interest.
JAPIT plays a crucial role to encourage both sides to support peace and prosperity in Asia.
Building bilateral invest bridges
According to Zhang Wei, vice president of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), over 20,000 Japanese firms are investing in China.
CCPIT hosted a Sino-Japan forum on Tuesday in Beijing. China is an important destination for Japanese overseas investments.
China's Commerce Ministry disclosed Sino-Japan trade volume stood at around $US270bn. last year, but that's not near its peak - $US340bn from years ago.
The two nations have an incentive to boost bilateral trade and investment. CCPIT highlights key areas of further cooperation between the industries of intelligent manufacturing, energy and environmental protections.
Both countries are moving forward on innovation-driven economies, as governments, academia and private enterprises work more closely together on research & development along with creating more advances in the science & technology fields.
China and Japan are natural competitors, but if they can collaborate more that would transform the world for the better.
China-Japan-South 3-way talks continue
Another factor to upgrade bilateral economic relations would be signing a 3-way FTA (free trade agreement) of the top 3 northeast Asia markets - China, Japan and South Korea.
Nonetheless since the announcement of launching negotiations in 2013 have garnered little progress so far. There's already been 11 rounds of meetings and the next round will be held in Tokyo next week.
Trade ministers are hoping to achieve progress on key issues: goods, services and investments. The vital topics for the next round will address cross-border e-commerce sales and intellectual property rights.
Amid the rise of global trade protectionism sentiments, signing an FTA here could inspire other governments to support more open and inclusive global trade and investment policies.
If the China-Japan-South Korea FTA deal gets signed, it would be one of the world's largest trade blocks, combined GDP (gross domestic product) $US16.7 trillion as of 2015.
Visiting the charms of Japan
Despite tensions, Japan remains one of the favorite countries for Chinese nationals to visit, as well as to live and work.
Japan is the leading foreign residency choice for Chinese nationals. In 2016, Chinese nationals living there for more than three months accounted for 695,522, a 4.6 percent increase year-on-year.
Chinese nationals living as permanent resident stood at 238,438 - 2016, from 225,605-2015. There were 115,278 Chinese overseas students in Japan last year.
Meanwhile, Japan continues to be popular for Chinese tourists. Japan had won distinction from the World Economic Forum (WEF) as the highest ranking country in Asia in this year's WEF Tourism Competitiveness Index biannual report.
Japan has highlighted the nation's natural resources and cultural heritage to lure in more visitors. The country has become more cost competitive for Chinese travelers as well.
Stay calm in a tempest
The Chinese and Japanese people may see each other as rivals, but they share cultural similarities too. They come from nations with long and storied histories and both play dominant positions in Asia.
The Chinese and Japanese are also known for staying calm under stress. They can achieve greatness together, but the two nations must find areas of common ground, mutual trust and allay long-held suspicions to improve bilateral relations.
In all likelihood, Beijing and Tokyo can take port on the right solutions to sail ahead for better ties.
Tom McGregor, CCTV.com Panview Opinion page commentator and editor
(The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com)
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