BEIJING — In what could signal a possible warming in Japanese-Sino relations, the People’s Daily surprised readers by publishing a photo of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shaking hands with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in front of the Japanese flag.
This marks a departure in how the Communist Party organ has reported on past encounters, which have typically been downplayed by avoiding photos indicating warm ties, such as those of handshakes or Japan’s flag.
The two leaders met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam on Saturday.
The new treatment may be Beijing’s way of showing its intent to improve ties with Tokyo.
Still, the story was placed below those about Xi’s meetings with the leaders of Vietnam, South Korea and the Philippines in its Sunday edition.
How the stories were positioned may merely reflect that Vietnam was the APEC summit host, or that Abe is not legally the head of state unlike the other Asian leaders at the meet. However, the low placement could also indicate that Beijing harbors concerns about Japan’s past actions and its current stance on Taiwan, among other issues.