Japan's Abe Heads to China Vowing to Lift Ties to ‘New Level’

27 October, 2018, 18:47 | Author: Shannon Aguilar
  • Shinzo Abe attends at the ASEM leaders summit in Brussels Belgium Friday. Francois Lenoir, Reuters

Mr Abe vowed in a speech to parliament on Wednesday to raise the relationship with China to a higher level through regular leaders' visits and business cooperation.

Flags of both countries lined Changan Avenue, a thoroughfare that cuts through the heart of Beijing near Tiananmen Square.

Mr Abe also said Tokyo was "determined" to normalise diplomatic relations with Pyongyang, but only if preconditions were met, including denuclearisation and the release of kidnapped Japanese citizens.

"Sino-Japanese relations are back to their normal trajectory, and showing consistent improvements", Mr Li said.

China is Japan's largest trading partner and economic ties have remained strong despite political differences.

Some countries involved in Belt and Road projects, like Malaysia and Sri Lanka, have accused China of saddling them with excessive debt. China rejects the criticism. Other topics would touch on how to immediately reached the conclusion to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Agreement, a trade deal which would also involve 16 countries in the Asia-Pacific. That is particularly true in the East China Sea, where in addition to the islands, China and Japan are at odds over the exploitation of natural gas and other resources.

In the talks, the two leaders are also expected to discuss the Asia Africa growth corridor and Gokhale said something concrete may come out on it.

"China and Japan should interact more actively in the security area, foster constructive security relations, and pursue the path of peace and development for regional peace and stability", Xi said.

The Trump administration has imposed huge trade tariffs which it says are in retaliation for other countries' unfair trade practices.

While Japan, anxious about China's growing naval power, is keen for closer economic ties with its biggest trading partner, it must manage that rapprochement without upsetting its key security ally, the United States, with which it has trade problems of its own. Beijing has responded with tariffs of its own on USA goods such as soybeans, and no swift resolution to the standoff appears likely. The South China Morning Post reported this month that Beijing was also looking into joining the successor to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Japan pushed to complete after the U.S. pulled out.

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But his meeting with Xi on Friday will be the first full-scale Sino-Japanese summit since 2011.

The two countries appear poised to enter a new phase in bilateral relations; one in which they will pursue cooperation on global challenges while at the same time their territorial dispute over the Okinawa Prefecture's Senkaku Islands will continue.

"As China continues its reform and opens its door even wider to the world, more opportunities have emerged in China's cooperation with countries including Japan", Xi told Abe.

The Japanese side is preparing to make it a full state reception, including an audience with the emperor.

The arrangement, which takes effect on Friday and lasts until October 25, 2021, will allow the exchange of local currencies between the two central banks for up to 200 billion yuan or 3.4 trillion yen ($30 billion), the Bank of Japan said.

"From competition to co-existence, Japan and China bilateral relations have entered a new phase".

Despite the thaw in ties, mistrust persists.

"Abe is thinking of a long time frame, of building a framework where China and Japan can work together and live together as neighbors without conflict", Vogel said.

"Japan's wartime aggression is still deeply hurting".

"Both sides need each other", said Yu Tiejun, a Japan expert at Peking University.

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