Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi on Tuesday during a meeting with a Japanese prefectural governor expressed hope of strengthening exchanges between local governments of the two countries, despite lingering diplomatic tensions between Tokyo and Beijing.
After meeting with Yang in Beijing, Nagasaki Gov. Hodo Nakamura quoted him as saying, "Exchanges between the private sector and local communities are very important, so China wants to actively promote them."
The remarks from the former foreign minister came after Nakamura noted the importance of such exchanges in improving bilateral relations, according to the governor, who arrived in China on Monday with a delegation of about 100 local political and business leaders.
Yang, who is still in charge of China's foreign policy as one of the state councilors, did not mention the name of a group of small islands that is at the center of a bitter dispute between the two countries.
But Yang told Nakamura, "I hope you understand Chinese territorial claims," the governor told reporters.
Bilateral relations remain soured due to a rekindled row over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The Japan-controlled uninhabited islets are claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu.