China, Japan aim to repair shaky relations

TONY JONES: Beijing has called on Japan to do more to repair soured relations between the Asian powers after a weekend of sometimes violent anti-Japanese protests across China. Japan, in turn, has demanded that China protect Japanese firms and expatriates but has said the best way to resolve the bilateral tensions is through dialogue. The protests erupted as a result of what many Chinese see as Tokyo's whitewashing of World War II atrocities and its bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. China correspondent John Taylor has this report.

JOHN TAYLOR: For China state-controlled media, it's as if the weekend never happened. There's no mention of the roughly 30,000 people who took part in anti-Japan protests. They happened in three cities, including the capital, Beijing, sparked by Japan's approval of a school textbook that China says glosses over wartime atrocities. Japan's embassy had windows smashed. Japanese businesses and restaurants were also targeted. Today, the Japanese embassy was trying to make sense of it all.

KEIJI IDE (井出敬二), JAPANESE EMBASSY OF BEIJING SPOKESMAN: I have concern that in China, there is a misunderstanding towards Japan, and China's people have somehow unbalanced image about Japan and Japanese. So this is what I have concern.

JOHN TAYLOR: China's Foreign Ministry says Japan must address the feelings of the Chinese people. It's not the conciliatory response Japan wants.

KEIJI IDE: We need to clarify what Chinese Foreign Ministry really means by this statement.

JOHN TAYLOR: Earlier this year, China's Premier, Wen Jiabao, admitted the bilateral political relationship was strained. The leaders of both countries haven't exchanged visits for seven years. For the first time in centuries, both countries are powerful at the same time and vying for greater international recognition. Millions of Chinese have signed Internet petitions against Japan's moves to join the UN Security Council. But this couple living in Beijing believe they show harmony isn't impossible. He is Chinese and she is Japanese. They hope the Chinese and Japanese governments and leaders can be like us as a couple・ he says. Quarrels can bring the smiles. Smiles can bring happiness. I think the Chinese governments and leaders should learn from us as a couple as an example when they negotiate." They believe Japan has to shoulder some blame for the bad state of the relationship, but not all. A media ban is in force in China, but nationalist activist Feng Jinhua can still find pictures of the protest on the Internet. He scoffs at Japanese call for an apology and compensation. Japan has no excuse at all to demand the Chinese people apologise. It is ridiculous・ he says. He believes Chinese nationalism is growing and that a strong China overshadows any public desire for a democratic one. "To talk about democracy and freedom, it seems unrealistic", he says. he should focus more on the development of our nation, the unification of our nation, and the strength of our nation.・But that can too easily lead to scenes like this. There were no more anti-Japanese protests in China today. But the ugly face of Chinese hostility to Japan has been revealed. While the two countries are basking in a warm economic relationship, politically, things are becoming increasingly icy.