China-Japan relations

Li Keqiang and Shinzo Abe announce China-Japan deals, commit to stable relations

  • Chinese Premier and Japanese Prime Minister outline a package of business deals and cooperation agreements
  • We are neighbours and partners, not a threat to each other, says Abe as the countries vow to eliminate conflicts
PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 October, 2018, 1:41pm
UPDATED : Friday, 26 October, 2018, 8:17pm

Leaders of China and Japan announced they had agreed to boost economic cooperation and not to pose a threat to each other at a joint press conference on Friday.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who held the press conference in Beijing alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, also announced that the two countries had signed over 500 business deals during Abe’s ongoing visit to China, the first by a Japanese leader in seven years.

A series of cooperation agreements were signed, including reviving a currency-swap deal dropped in 2013, while Li also called for an early conclusion to an Asia-Pacific nations trade pact that includes 16 countries but not the United States.

Li did not provide further information on the business deals, but said they would provide great opportunities for both sides, and that they would push for more cooperation on innovation, environmental protection and health and welfare.

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“We both feel that it is in our mutual interest to maintain a long-term stable China-Japan relationship, which is also beneficial to the stability of the region,” said Li, adding that China was willing to increase high-level dialogue.

“We also agreed that we do not threaten each other and do not direct aggression towards each other,” Li said. “We need to have constructive ways to eliminate any kind of frictions or conflicts between the two countries.”

Abe is accompanied by about 500 Japanese businesspeople on a visit that both countries have hailed as an important step in their rapprochement after years of tension over wartime grievances, geopolitical rivalry and competing sovereignty claims over the East China Sea.

Increasing uncertainties in the two countries’ respective ties with the US have pushed the two Asian rivals closer. Japan is increasingly worried about the decline of the US’ presence in the region, while China looks to Japan to ease the impact of its escalating trade war with the US.

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Li said the two countries’ cooperation on third-country markets, as well as their free trade agreements in the region – including the Beijing-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and a free trade agreement between China, Japan and South Korea – would help “stabilise the free trade environment” in the region and bring more opportunities.

Abe said at the press conference that the nature of the relationship between Beijing and Tokyo had been transformed from competitive to cooperative.

“From competition to cooperation, I believe our relationship is entering a new phase,” he said. “We want to expand our relationship significantly.

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“We are neighbours. We are partners cooperating with each other. We have to avoid becoming a threat to each other.”

Abe said the two countries had put a new framework in place to promote their cooperation on infrastructure projects in third countries, and that more than a thousand Chinese and Japanese business leaders had signed a memorandum of understanding to deepen their cooperation based on international standards and in areas such as finance and innovation.

Abe also stressed that intellectual property rights needed to be protected as the two countries furthered their cooperation.

Following the press conference, Abe was due to take part in a forum on infrastructure projects and visit Peking University, before having a meeting and attending a dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping.