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INTERNATIONAL > East Asia & Pacific

Japan, China prepping to revive high-level economic dialogue

  • April 1, 2018
  • , Kyodo News , 9:00 a.m.
  • English Press

TOKYO — Japan and China are gearing up to resume high-level economic dialogue in mid-April after a hiatus of more than seven years, sources close to bilateral relations said Saturday.


The parley, to be held in Japan, is likely to be timed to coincide with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s envisaged visit to the country around April 15, the sources told Kyodo News.


The last such dialogue was held in Beijing in August 2010, and it is hoped the resumption will help deepen a strategic, mutually beneficial relationship between the two countries as they mark the 40th anniversary this year of the signing of a peace and friendship treaty, they said.


Japan has judged that it should pursue a closer relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who recently solidified his grip on power after being re-elected to a second five-year term as president.


With a trilateral summit between Japan, China and South Korea planned for May as leverage, Tokyo hopes to realize a trip by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to China by the end of the year and an early Japan visit by Xi in order to enhance bilateral relations.


For its part, China is apparently eager to drum up support from Japan for its “One Belt, One Road” cross-border infrastructure initiative under the policy of improving ties with Tokyo.


Beijing is also perceived to be interested in bringing Japan into its fold amid rising tensions over trade issues with the United States.


According to the sources, Japan accepted China’s overtures offered earlier this month to restart economic dialogue dealing with economic issues such as trade and investment.


If realized, the talks are most likely to be co-chaired by Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Wang. Other ministers in charge of economic issues from both countries including Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko are also expected to take part.


During the parley, Tokyo will seek to share the view with Beijing that its “free and open Indo-Pacific strategy” and China’s belt and road project can coexist, and that both nations can work together to improve infrastructure across Asia, the sources said.


With the United States’ import restrictions on steel and aluminum in mind, the talks could also highlight the importance of free trade.


The high-level economic dialogue, launched in December 2007, has been put on ice since its third session took place in Beijing seven and a half years ago.


Tokyo and Beijing have for years been mired in a territorial dispute over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea called the Senkakus by Japan and Diaoyu by China.


They have also been at loggerheads over China’s military buildup in contested waters of the South China Sea, with Japan arguing that disputes must be resolved according to international law and that freedom of navigation must be maintained.


China has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan in the South China Sea.


Japan does not face the South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which over one-third of global trade passes, but relies on shipping channels in the waters.

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