Beijing: Seeking to bring down Sino-Japanese tensions over the disputed islands, China`s new leader Xi Jinping on Friday called for joint efforts to "control and resolve" the sensitive issue, which has seriously damaged bilateral ties, including the flourishing trade.
Describing the dispute as a sensitive issue due to polarised public opinion in both countries, Xi during his meeting with top Japanese leader Natsuo Yamaguchi said China and Japan should make "joint efforts" to bring down tensions.
China calls the islands in the resource-rich East China Sea as Diaoyu, while Japan, which has administrative control over them, describes the islets as Senkakus.
"China`s stance on the Diaoyu Islands is consistent and clear," Xi said, urging the Japanese side to respect history as well as reality and make joint efforts with China to "seek effective methods for appropriately controlling and resolving problems through dialogue and consultation," state run Xinhua news agency reported.
Yamaguchi, head of the New Komeito party, an influential partner in the new Japanese government met Xi today and handed over a letter from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly expressing keen interest in repairing the relations which faced severe strains after Japan purchased the islands from a private party in September last year.
China which in the past ignored Japanese control over the islands despite its claims started asserting its stand after Tokyo purchased them from a private owner last year.
Since then, surveillance ships of the two countries have aggressively patrolled the islands and scrambled fighter planes to prevent surveillance planes.
The heated exchanges over the islets have hit the nearly USD 350 billion bilateral trade.
In his meeting with Yamaguchi, Xi said Sino-Japanese relations are currently at a crossroad.
"This is a special moment for Sino-Japanese relations, we attach great importance to your visit to China.
The New Komeito Party has made remarkable contributions in developing and repairing Sino-Japanese ties," state run CCTV quoted Xi as saying.
Later, Yamaguchi told the media that Japan will look at the "big picture" and hold talks with China to resolve the island dispute.