Chinese ambassador urges Japanese involvement in 'One Belt, One Road' project
Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua stated that he sees the "One Belt, One Road" economic-zone initiative as a favorable business opportunity for Japan, in an exclusive interview with the Mainichi Shimbun on May 17.
In the interview, Ambassador Cheng said, "I believe that markets such as infrastructure construction, energy and transportation (that will emerge from the economic zone) will present huge business chances for Japan," and that he looks for cooperation and understanding from Japan.
However, with mutual visits between the leaders of China and Japan having stopped for the time being, Cheng added that, "It is not normal to have these kinds of gaps concerning interaction between the leaders of two neighboring countries." He also stressed the need for the two nations to resume such visits in the near future.
The "One Belt, One Road" project is essentially a modern-day version of the Silk Road -- designed to enhance development and cooperation primarily among China and other countries across Asia and Europe.
Earlier in the week, on May 14 and 15, a summit meeting on the "One Belt, One Road" initiative was held in Beijing, which Cheng proclaimed as a success. "The leaders of numerous countries attended the summit, and documents detailing the initiative's accomplishments so far were released. It was a fine start. In addition, the objective of embarking on multilateral economic development, and to subsequently reap the rewards together, has been internationally recognized," Cheng explained.
However, at the same time, there are also concerns that, "The One Belt, One Road initiative is merely an attempt to create a China-led economic zone." In response to these worries, Cheng stated, "That is incorrect. China may have instigated the initiative, but the financial rewards can be reaped by all the participating nations." He also added that, "Interpreting the project from geopolitical and ideological perspectives simply makes light of the essence of the issue."
When China's President Xi Jinping held talks with Toshihiro Nikai of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) about the matter, he welcomed mutual cooperation between China and Japan concerning the "One Belt, One Road" initiative. Commenting on the relationship between China and Japan, Cheng said, "Recently there have been signs of improvement, but we still face a number of complex issues, just as before."
Cheng also spoke about the possibility of Xi's visit to Japan in 2018, saying that, "We are not at that stage yet," but stressed that, "By being mutual partners that are not a threat to one another, we hope to strengthen our political relationship of trust, and enhance our ties," highlighting the importance of continued communication.