US, Japan and Koreas make belt and road forum a global affair

Summit beginning in Beijing on Sunday is looking like a proper international forum, with major late additions

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 May, 2017, 11:56pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 May, 2017, 3:08am

The belt and road summit beginning on Sunday in Beijing will now look like a proper international gathering, with Washington, Seoul and Tokyo agreeing to send delegations.

The US delegation will be headed by Matthew Pottinger, special assistant to President Donald Trump and the National Security Council senior director for East Asia.

The presence of the US delegation would mark the end of a boycott by Washington of China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”, and would be “a good start for Beijing and Washington to build bilateral trust”, said Yuan Zheng from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

As for South Korea, Beijing did not initially invite it due to its unhappiness with Seoul’s decision to deploy a US anti-missile system. But Beijing extended an olive branch after President Xi Jinping spoke to new South Korean President Moon Jae-in to congratulate him on his appointment.

China and US to open their markets further, easing fears of trade war

During the discussion, Xi said South Korea and China should respect each other’s concerns and handle disputes appropriately, while Moon said he planned to send a delegation to Beijing to discuss the missile shield, the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence system, which Beijing sees as a threat to its security.

A delegation led by lawmaker Park Byeong-seug from the South’s ruling Democratic Party would attend the forum tomorrow and on Monday, according to presidential press secretary Yoon Young-chan.

The five main projects of the Belt and Road Initiative

For Japan, Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai will attend a high-level conference during the forum.

During his visit, Nikai was expected to hand over a personal letter from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Xi, according to the Japan News.

On Tuesday, Beijing confirmed that a North Korean delegation would also attend. Beijing did not give details, but Yonhap said it would be led by Kim Yong-jae, the minister of external economic relations.

A South Korean official told Yonhap that the possibility of a dialogue between the two Korean delegations could not be ruled out.

Additional reporting by Kristin Huang