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China-Japan relations

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to attend student exchange event with Japan in sign of warming relations

Rare appearance by Chinese premier at such an event, along with Japanese minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, could help clinch visit to Beijing by Shinzo Abe

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 August, 2018, 11:53am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 August, 2018, 11:03pm

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang plans to attend a student exchange event with Japan later this month, in a sign of improvement in relations between Tokyo and Beijing, sources close to diplomatic ties said on Monday.

From the Japanese side, Yoshimasa Hayashi, minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, is likely to take part in the August 29 event at Peking University in Beijing.

Tokyo hopes that the rare attendance by the Chinese premier at a student exchange event will help confirm Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to China for talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, potentially in October, the sources said.

Xi is also expected to participate in the Group of 20 major economies’ summit, to be held in Japan next June.

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The relationship between the two Asian neighbours, which has often been strained by differences in views on history and territory, has recently been improving as this year marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of a peace and friendship treaty, the sources said.

In May this year, Li became the highest-ranking Chinese official to pay a visit to Japan in seven years. At the time, Li and Abe agreed to promote youth exchanges.

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The event at Peking University will bring together about 1,000 Japanese and Chinese students. In the previous session of a similar exchange event in August last year, no minister was dispatched from the Japanese side, while then Vice-Premier Liu Yandong took part from China.

Following the August 29 exchange, Hayashi plans to take part in a ministerial cultural meeting involving Japan, China and South Korea in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, the sources said. Hayashi is also expected to hold talks with Luo Shugang, Chinese minister of culture and tourism, during his stay in China, they said.