China hits back at Japan over World War I remarks

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China has criticised the Japanese prime minister for drawing parallels between their relationship and that of Britain and Germany pre-World War I.

Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, Shinzo Abe said both countries should avoid repeating the past mistakes of the UK and Germany whose close economic ties before 1914 failed to prevent the conflict.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Abe’s comments should by no means be interpreted to mean that war between the two Asian giants was possible, noting that Abe had said dialogue and the rule of law, not armed forces and threats, were needed for peace and prosperity in Asia.

But China says Abe’s view of history is misplaced: “It would be better to face up to what Japan did to China before the war and in recent history than to say stuff about pre-World War One British-German relations,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a news conference in Beijing.

China and Japan, the world’s second- and third-largest economies respectively, have deep business ties and bilateral trade that was worth nearly 224 billion euros in 2012, according to Japanese figures.

Sino-Japanese tensions have been rising recently because of a territorial dispute, Tokyo’s mistrust of Beijing’s military build-up and Abe’s visit to a shrine critics say glorifies Japan’s wartime past.

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