China and Japan foster ties

  • The two neighbours are building ever closer ties


During a meeting in Beijing, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang discussed ways to deepen ties, stepping up arrangements for a possible visit to Japan by Chinese President Xi Jinping in June.

If realised, it will be Xi’s first visit here since he came to power in 2013. Xi is expected to travel to Osaka to attend a summit of the Group of 20 major economies, though the Chinese Government has yet to officially confirm his attendance. If it happens, it will be an opportunity for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to hold his first meeting with Xi since they met at a summit in Buenos Aires last November.

“As neighbours, China and Japan should deepen economic cooperation and cultivate third-country markets for the benefit of not only our two countries but also to ensure a stable recovery in the global economy,” Li said. “We look forward to working together with China to work on bilateral and global issues,” Kono said.

The other issue is Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese. Kono is bringing this issue up with Yi. In November, China removed a ban on rice grown in Niigata Prefecture, more than 200 km away from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. This is a welcome move and the two nations are fostering ties on agricultural products. They also want to discuss the joint production of gas in the East China Sea.

China has decided to appoint top Japan expert Kong Xuanyou, currently the vice foreign minister, as its new ambassador to Tokyo

Both countries have not discussed such issues since 2008. It is an encouraging sign. The two co-chaired a high-level economic dialogue aimed at deepening cooperation at a time when global growth is slowing. At the ministerial meeting, the two sides agreed on steps that could pave the way for the lifting of a prolonged ban on Japanese beef by Beijing, in the latest sign of a recent improvement in ties between the Asian powers. The import of Japanese beef into China will also bring enormous trade between the two. Until now Beijing has put a ban on the import of Japanese beef. Beijing must review the import of beef into China.

China encouraged Japan to invest in infrastructure projects under Xi’s “One Belt, One Road” development initiative stretching across Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Both the nations have been focussing on the improvement of youth relations: the two countries plan to arrange mutual visits for 30,000 youths from each other in the next five years. Both countries are also thinking of a joint production of goods at a third country like Thailand. Their mutual cooperation will move into a solid space.

China and Japan have the opportunity to “take charge of the economic field” during a time of worldwide uncertainty, Japan’s foreign minister said, as trade pressures from the United States have prompted both countries to seek alternative markets and to promote bilateralism.

US President Donald Trump has also imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminium from Japan, and threatened automobile tariffs that would leave Japan among the hardest-hit. In this regard, China appeared to be a lucrative market for Japanese goods that would normally go into the USA.

As Japan and China faces restriction in the US market for one reason or another, China and Japan are in a position to further deepen bilateral trade relations. China also needs support from the EU and Japan as it seeks to diversify its markets and take on a leadership role in pushing global trade.

China has decided to appoint top Japan expert Kong Xuanyou, currently the vice foreign minister, as its new ambassador to Tokyo as it seeks to raise bilateral relations to new heights. The move will help improve the ties between the two countries at a time when President Xi would be making an official visit.

Chinese President Xi will likely visit Japan this year. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to China last fall was the first formal visit to Beijing by a Japanese leader in nearly seven years. This is considered a major breakthrough in their high-level visits and exchanges.

China and Japan ties are important and will continue to assume its importance in world arena. There is need to give them just place and a supporting hand. This will not only reduce bilateral friction on a number of issues, it will help resolve all fundamental issues including Senkaku/ Diaoyu dispute.

There is no puzzle between them that cannot be resolved and both are willing to do so. The sensitivity of the China -Japan ties should be kept in mind when analysing these ties. Both of these two countries share more global and regional interests than differences. A much more prosperous world order is in the making process and both of these two nations will guarantee it.