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China-Japan relations

China says Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Beijing this month

Two sides will discuss cooperation in third-party country during first visit to China by a Japanese leader in seven years

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 October, 2018, 9:25pm
UPDATED : Friday, 12 October, 2018, 11:14pm

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will this month make the first visit to China by a Japanese leader in seven years, Beijing said on Friday, in a sign of the two countries efforts to improve relations amid rising global uncertainty.

Abe, who was re-elected leader of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party last month, will visit from October 25 to 27, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.

The visit would “elevate our bilateral ties and put bilateral cooperation back on the right track”, he told a regular press briefing.

The two sides would work to “jointly uphold multilateralism and the free-trade system”, Lu said, adding that Beijing welcomed investment from Japanese companies to “expand cooperation in arenas including trade, investment, finance, innovation and hi-tech”.

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As part of their efforts to explore common ground, Beijing and Tokyo are currently in negotiations regarding cooperation in a third-party country under the “Belt and Road Initiative”, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitious infrastructure and investment programme, and Tokyo’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy, a similar strategy by which Japan is seeking enhanced connectivity between Asia and Africa.

Lu said a forum on public-private cooperation in a third country would be held during Abe’s visit to Beijing.

Wei Jianguo, a former Chinese vice-minister of commerce, said cooperation between the two countries in a third market might help to ease concerns on the world stage amid the prevailing trade tensions.

“A new method of cooperation between the world’s second- and third-largest economies could boost confidence in the global economy and have a substantial impact,” he said. “Cooperation in a third market could also be a new starting point of bilateral cooperation between China and Japan.”

Wei, who joined businesspeople and former political leaders from China and Japan at the fourth Japan-China CEO Summit in Beijing on Thursday and Friday, said companies from the two sides were discussing cooperative projects in the fields of solar energy, road and rail, and machinery manufacturing in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

China, Japan and South Korea aim to speed up talks on free-trade agreement to counter US tariffs

Japan is also expected to send the largest trade delegation – representing 579 companies – to the inaugural China International Import Expo in Shanghai next month. The event is seen by China’s leaders as important for showing Beijing’s determination to open up, especially against the backdrop of the ongoing trade war with the US.

In the latest round of tit-for-tat tariffs, Washington imposed new taxes on US$200 billion worth of Chinese products, prompting Beijing to levy additional tariffs on US$60 billion worth of goods from the US. US President Donald Trump has threatened to raise the stakes to include a further US$267 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Japan has the third-largest trade surplus with the US after China and Mexico, and Trump has said he may impose a 25 per cent duty on imports of Japanese vehicles and car parts.

Earlier reports by Japanese media said Abe would visit Beijing on October 23, which marks the 40th anniversary of the Sino-Japan Friendship Treaty, but Beijing asked Tokyo to postpone the trip for a couple of days as that date was “inconvenient”, Kyodo News reported, citing government sources.