Defense ministers of China and Japan held a conversation through a direct telephone line for the first time as part of a maritime and aerial communication mechanism on Tuesday, China's Ministry of National Defense said.
"On the afternoon of May 16, State Councilor and Defense Minister Li Shangfu for the first time held a telephone conversation with Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada via a direct telephone line within the framework of the maritime and air communication mechanism of the defense ministries of the two countries, exchanging views on the defense relations between the two countries," the ministry said in a statement.
According to the ministry, the establishment and use of the direct telephone line is "a practical measure to implement the important consensus of the leaders of the two countries", which will "effectively enrich the communication channels between the defense departments of the two countries", "strengthen the crisis management capabilities of the two sides in sea and air", and "further contribute to maintaining regional peace and stability".
The operation of the line was of significance because 16 years have passed since Beijing and Tokyo agreed on the launch of such a measure.
The talks began in 2007 when China and Japan initially agreed to set up a maritime and aerial communication mechanism to build confidence and prevent unexpected contingencies.
However, the launch of the mechanism then became a long-pending issue as Tokyo continually provoked Beijing over territory and history disputes.
A thaw in bilateral relations in 2018 saw the establishment of the maritime and aerial communication mechanism between the two countries, and as the pillar of that mechanism, the direct telephone line was set up between their defense authorities this March.