Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will travel to Beijing today to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of tomorrow’s first
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will travel to Beijing today to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of tomorrow’s first formal bilateral meeting between the two countries in seven years.
Although the two leaders have met at various events, Tokyo-Beijing relations have been cool over the past seven years, mainly over territorial disputes in the East China Sea and Chinese island-building in the South China Sea.
Abe realises that Japan’s future economic prosperity requires increased trade with China, currently Japan’s largest trading partner. Now negotiating a Japan-US free trade deal, Abe does not want to be boxed into a US veto on any future Japan-China trade deal, as Mexico and Canada have been in NAFTA renegotiations. For China, its diplomatic shift is aimed at normalising relations with its neighbours to concentrate on fighting the US trade war.
Expect to see further confidence-boosting measures in the coming year. Beijing will push more Japanese involvement in Belt and Road initiatives and bringing RCEP to signing. In return, expect Tokyo to push for the lifting of a Chinese ban on Japanese foodstuffs suspected of radiation. The normalisation of economic relations suits both countries from the looming global market turbulence due to Brexit and US protectionism.
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