China, Japan vow to forge closer ties at ‘historic turning point’

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers his policy speech in the Diet on Wednesday

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe held a second meeting with Chinese premier Li Keqiang during the first formal visit to Beijing by a Japanese leader in almost seven years.

Abe, who returned to power in 2012 when Sino-Japanese ties were in tatters due to a feud over East China Sea islands, has met Chinese President Xi Jinping many times since their first chilly conversation in 2014 on the sidelines of a regional summit in Beijing.

Japanese firms including big auto companies like Toyota hope to see normalised ties with China so they can compete with USA and European rivals, while Beijing expects Tokyo's endorsement of its ambitious Belt and Road programme, an initiative that Xi hopes will further boost trade and transport links with other countries.

One key step forward was an agreement between Japan and China to work together in third countries on infrastructure, transport, health care and finance projects and to avoid what Li called "cut-throat competition".

The leaders of Asia's two biggest economies reached a series of agreements on Friday aimed at deepening economic and trade ties between China and Japan.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, speaks next to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a joint press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on October 26, 2018.

On defence issues, Mr. Gokhale said the two sides may agree to begin negotiations on a naval logistics pact like the Indo-U.S. LEMOA pact, but they did not expect to conclude it or make any announcements on it during this visit.

"The visit is characterised both by the special strategic and global partnership that we established with Japan and by the personal relationship the prime minister has evolved with his counterpart PM Abe of Japan", said Gokhale.

On Friday, Abe is scheduled to hold separate meetings with Li and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The two sides also signed a currency swap agreement of up to 3.4 trillion yen ($30.29 billion), effective until 2021.

Experts here also pointed out that the improvement of ties between the two countries is particularly significant under the current circumstances with rising trade protectionism in the world.

India and Japan will discuss collaboration in infrastructure projects in neighboring countries and possibly in East Asian nations in a fashion similar to their collaboration in Sri Lanka.

"I have absolutely no hesitation in saying that his (Abe) visit to China will have no impact on India-Japan bilateral relationship..."

"Japan is also at the forefront of engaging in our national initiatives, such as "Make in India",;Skill India", "Digital India", "Start Up India'". China is already Japan's largest trading partner and Japanese companies from carmakers to department stores play a major role in the Chinese economy.

For China, its diplomatic shift is aimed at normalising relations with its neighbours to concentrate on fighting the USA trade war.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship.

But he has since softened his rhetoric as the issue of North Korean denuclearisation brought the two countries closer, with Abe calling on China to put pressure on North Korea.

According to Abe, former residents of the Islands for the second year fly there planes and visit the graves of ancestors, "in the direction of implement moved and the question on joint economic activity".

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