Beijing and Tokyo have agreed to deepen their maritime dialogue, manage differences over Taiwan and their territorial disputes and open a military hotline , all in a diplomatic consultation just days after leaders of the Asian rivals met for the first time in three years. China’s President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Bangkok last week and agreed to ease their increasingly adversarial tensions in the midst of the US-China rivalry and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Led by two foreign ministries, Chinese and Japanese officials had an “extensive and in-depth” exchange of views on their maritime rifts and pledged to “earnestly implement” the agreement reached by Xi and Kishida last week to build “stable and constructive” ties, according to a statement from Beijing. The latest department-level meeting of a bilateral mechanism on maritime affairs, held virtually on Tuesday, involved seven other government agencies from both sides, including defence ministries, coastguards and agencies responsible for the marine environment and energy. China’s Central Foreign Affairs Office and Japan’s Cabinet Secretariat were also involved in the consultation, which has been held almost annually since 2012. The Chinese side, led by Hong Liang, head of the foreign ministry’s department of boundary and ocean affairs, urged Japan to “stop all actions that violate China’s sovereignty” surrounding the disputed Diaoyu Islands , known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan. Chinese officials also voiced “strong dissatisfaction with Japan’s recent negative remarks and erroneous practices” over Taiwan , which Beijing sees as a runaway province that needs to be reunited, by force if necessary. What Xi’s ‘unscripted’ G20, Apec moments reveal about future of diplomacy China’s account listed several consensuses reached at the one-day meeting, including an agreement to accelerate efforts to “establish and activate” a direct telephone line between the two defence ministries “as soon as possible”. Coastguards on both sides will further cooperate in combating cross-border crimes at sea and increase “practical cooperation” on maritime search and rescue. Both sides will jointly combat illegal fishing and deal with marine plastic litter. Xi and Kishida also pledged last week to explore possibilities for cooperation and boost communication on security in their “candid and detailed discussion”. Despite signs of further deterioration in bilateral ties in recent months as Japan increased its alignment with the US over Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and other hotspot issues, the warmer-than-expected tone both leaders displayed during their 45-minute meeting rekindled hopes of a possible detente. While Kishida described the long-anticipated meeting as “a good start”, Xi said the importance of bilateral ties would not change and both countries should “be partners, not threats” despite their differences. But their territorial disputes, Japan’s wartime past and the Taiwan issue in particular, remain the main obstacles, even as they tried to increase engagement, analysts said. Kishida said after meeting Xi that he had raised “serious concerns” about stability in the Taiwan Strait as well as over China’s military activity near the disputed waters, especially over China’s launch of ballistic missiles close to Japan after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August. ‘Small, positive step forward’ for Japan-South Korea ties at Asean summit The Japanese leader also accused China of “violating” Japan’s sovereignty in the East China Sea at the East Asia Summit in Cambodia last week. The two expressed support for plans to open a direct telephone line as part of a “maritime and aerial liaison mechanism” at an early date. Defence chiefs from both countries agreed in December last year to set up a military hotline by the end of this year to prevent possible mishaps and accidental clashes. China and Japan began discussions in 2007 on setting up a military communication mechanism to prevent air and maritime encounters in the area from escalating. Parts of the mechanism have been operating since 2018, but not the hotline connecting their military chiefs. According to the state-controlled Global Times, technical issues such as scope of application and hierarchy were cited as obstacles for the delay.