Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after a gap of two years in Beijing on Monday amid severely strained bilateral relations in recent years over a cluster of islands in the East China Sea claimed by both countries.
The two leaders met at the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) summit.
The uninhabited islands, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan are controlled by the Japan. The islands are strategically important and said to be sitting on large reserves of natural gas.
Though the meeting between Xi and Shinzo signaled some progress in bilateral relations, Xi remained aloof during the meeting, not even responding to the Japanese PM’s attempt at conversation.
Chinese state media made it a point to mention that the meeting was held at the request of the Japanese side.
“Severe difficulties have emerged in Sino-Japanese relations in recent two years and the rights and wrongs behind them are crystal clear,” Xi was quoted as telling Shinzo by the state media.
He urged Japan to "do more things that help enhance the mutual trust between Japan and its neighboring countries, and play a constructive role in safeguarding the region's peace and stability."
According to the official news agency, Xinhua, the meeting came after a four-point agreement reached last week by China and Japan, which agreed to resume political, diplomatic and security dialogue while acknowledging different positions on the Diaoyu Islands.
"China's peaceful development is a significant opportunity for Japan and the world," Abe told Xi.
An official commentary said it was up to Japan to take the initiative to smoothen bilateral relations.
“If the Japanese leaders have no intention to undo the efforts of their predecessors to build a stable and healthy relationship with China, they need to take a fair and positive view of China's rapid development and adjust its China policy with a strategic perspective, so as to build on the momentum to bring the bilateral relations back to normal,” the commentary said.
“The ice trapping bilateral relations is too thick to melt in a day or two. But the task demands no delay, and it is high time Japan abide by its commitment and roll out real actions to make that happen,” it added.