Chinese President Xi Jinping has offered South Korean President Park Geun-hye to "jointly hold memorial activities" next year to mark the 70th anniversary of the Korean Peninsula's liberation from Japan's colonial rule as well as the end of World War II, according to China's foreign ministry on Friday.
The proposal, which would mark a significant effort for China to join with South Korea in criticism of Japan, was made during summit talks between Park and Xi in Seoul on Thursday, the Chinese ministry said in a statement posted on its website.
China's state-run Xinhua news agency also carried a similar report, saying Xi said South Korea and China "could jointly hold memorial activities next year on the occasions of the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Anti-Fascist War, of the victory of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, and of the liberation of the Korean Peninsula from Japan's colonial rule."
The proposal by Xi was not immediately confirmed by South Korea.
When asked about the proposal, South Korean presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook told reporters in Seoul on Friday that Park and Xi discussed "issues with regard to Japan's perception of history, but I could not confirm what sorts of remarks were exchanged."
Korea and China both suffered under brutal Japanese rule, with Korea being colonized by Japan from 1910 to 1945 and some parts of China being occupied by Japan in the early part of the 20th century.
In his speech at Seoul National University on Friday, the second day of his state visit to South Korea, Xi also strongly denounced Japan's wartime past as "barbaric."
"In the first half of the 20th century, Japanese militarists conducted barbaric wars of invasion against China and Korea, making the Korean Peninsula its colony and occupying half of the Chinese mainland," Xi said.
"When the war against Japan was at its highest peak, both Chinese and Korean people helped each other by sacrificing their lives," Xi said.
China has become more cooperative with South Korea in dealing with history-related issues against Japan.
In late May, China unveiled a stone monument in the ancient city of Xian honoring Korean soldiers who fought for the peninsula's liberation from Japan.
Earlier this year, China built a memorial in its northeastern city of Harbin to a prominent Korean independence hero, Ahn Jung-geun, who assassinated the Korean Peninsula's first Japanese governor-general, Hirobumi Ito, in October 1909. Japan reacted angrily to the Ahn memorial, calling him a terrorist.
During the Thursday summit, Park and Xi vowed to make the Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons as they warned North Korea against detonating a nuclear bomb.
The Xinhua report quoted Xi as telling Park during the summit, "All parties concerned should jointly and properly manage and control the situation, avoid causing tension, prevent the situation from losing control, and creating no more stirs."
"We hold that the concerns of all sides should be treated in a balanced way, and a synchronized and equivalent method should be sought to bring the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula into a sustainable, irreversible and effective settlement process," Xi was quoted as saying.
China's foreign ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, told reporters Friday that Park and Xi reached a "full consensus" on "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" during the Thursday summit.
"Up to now, there has been substantive progress about this visit," Hong said. "And we believe that this visit will be sure to bring the Sino-South Korea relations to a new high." (Yonhap)