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Japan, China talk economic cooperation in 1st dialogue in 8 yrs

  • April 16, 2018
  • , Kyodo News , 12:35 p.m.
  • English Press
  • ,

Japan and China discussed updating their mutual positions on economic cooperation at high-level talks in Tokyo on Monday, with a thaw in bilateral relations seeing the countries return to the dialogue framework after a roughly eight-year hiatus.


Leading the Japanese side, Foreign Minister Taro Kono said at the outset of the talks that the growing role Japan and China can play in the regional and global economy “requires us to gain a fresh perspective and think about how we can cooperate and coordinate with each other.”


Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China hopes to “deepen dialogue” with Japan about such cooperation, including through Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure megaproject across the Indo-Pacific region.


Amid increasing trade friction between China and the United States, the Japanese and Chinese officials are also expected to discuss the importance of free trade and the maintenance of a multifaceted global trade system with the World Trade Organization at its core.


The dialogue was held in 2007, 2009 and 2010 before the hiatus was prompted by a chill in bilateral relations, primarily over China’s activities in the East China Sea and its challenge to Japan’s sovereignty over the uninhabited Senkaku Islands.


The two countries are now trying to rebuild and expand economic cooperation in tandem with the recent improvement in diplomatic relations, spurred by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s bolstering of his domestic power base since late last year.


The officials may discuss recent U.S. trade restrictions aimed at China, including last month’s imposition of tariffs on U.S. imports of steel and aluminum, and further measures targeting Beijing’s alleged intellectual property and technology theft.


Japan is also subject to the steel and aluminum tariffs, not having been given the exemptions extended to other U.S. allies.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to repeat Japan’s call for an exemption when he holds talks with U.S. President Donald Trump in Florida later this week.


In the dialogue, Japan is expected to seek the withdrawal or easing of Chinese bans imposed on imports of food products from 10 of Japan’s 47 prefectures in response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster that followed a massive earthquake and tsunami in the country’s northeast in March 2011.


At one-on-one meetings on Sunday, Kono and Wang agreed on the importance of maintaining the global system of free trade, as did Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko and Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan.


In addition to those ministers, the Japanese contingent at the economic dialogue includes Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Keiichi Ishii, while Finance Minister Liu Kun is among the Chinese officials.


This year marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of a peace and friendship treaty between Japan and China.

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