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China Reacts Cautiously On Russia-Japan Security Ties

China on Monday reacted cautiously to a closer security cooperation between Russia and Japan, saying the bilateral collaboration should be aimed at ensuring regional peace and stability.

During their first diplomatic-defense talks on Saturday, Russia and Japan had agreed to boost security cooperation in the face of North Korea's nuclear threats and China's growing military clout in the region.

Asked about Saturday's talks in Tokyo between the Foreign and Defense Ministers of Japan and Russia, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said "we hope that the cooperation between the relevant countries could be conducive to regional peace and stability."

He declined to commend further on the talks at a regular press briefing in Beijing.

Meanwhile, Liu Jiangyong, deputy director of the Institute of International Studies at Tsinghua University, told the Chinese Communist Party newspaper Global Times that the two countries' intentions for holding the meeting were different.

"I don't think Russia is countering China by holding the meeting, but I think it is a major aim of Japan to counterbalance China's influence," he noted, saying that Japan was making a show of its diplomatic achievement as a way to psychologically counterbalance China's influence and to drive a wedge between China-Russia relations.

During Saturday's talks, the two sides agreed to cooperate in fighting terrorism and piracy by holding joint naval exercises despite unsettled disputes over the sovereignty of a cluster of windswept islands to Japan's north and Russia's far east.

Global Times quoted Li Xing, an expert in Russian affairs at Beijing Normal University, as saying that China should pay close attention to the new mechanism, but does not need to over-interpret it. "Issues of common interest between China and Russia outnumber those between Japan and Russia," he said.

Japan turning to Russia for defense ties has surprised political observers while remaining a close U.S. ally in the Asia-Pacific, hosting several American military bases on its soil with more than 50,000 soldiers.

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