China-Japan drawing closer amid trade pressure from US

Geneva Stokes
October 28, 2018

Jin Jianmin, a senior fellow at Fujitsu Research Institute in Tokyo, said that with China's fast economic development, the respective advantages of the industries and technologies of the two countries become clearer, and the foundation of win-win cooperation become more solid.

Relations between China and Japan have overcome "obstacles" and are moving "from competition to cooperation", the nations' leaders said on Friday as they signed new deals to prevent military clashes at sea and boost financial and economic collaboration.

Perhaps one of the most important shifts in the ties was Japan's announcement that it was officially ending 40 years of development aid to China, and that from this point forward Tokyo and Beijing would look to work together on development aid and pursue a new type of relationship.

The Trump administration's unconventional foreign policy toward trade and military alliances has left Tokyo feeling unsure of the U.S. support which has underlined its worldwide relations since the end of World War II. "The healthy, steady and long-term development of China-Japan ties is in the fundamental interests of the two countries' people, and represents common expectations of the worldwide community".

A delegation of Japanese business leaders is accompanying Abe as Asia's two largest economies seek to deepen trade, investment and cooperation on infrastructure and other projects in third countries. "The consensus that China and Japan are partners rather than mutual threats should be better implemented in concrete actions".

"I am sure in the (upcoming) meeting, the two leaders will discuss the region in more concrete terms", Hiramatsu said. Tokyo is an old ally of the United States and Beijing is a new adversary of Washington.

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President Donald Trump's effort to win more favourable trade deals for the USA has focused most heavily on China, source of the biggest American trade deficit and the target of complaints over Beijing's policies for building leadership in advanced technologies.

Trump has also raised tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from Japan and other countries, and is threatening tariffs on Japanese autos and auto parts.

High-level exchanges were frozen in 2012 after Japan nationalized a small group of remote islands in the East China Sea claimed by Beijing.

However, Abe and Li were at odds over several matters such as economic practices and human rights, such as the detention of Uygurs in Xinjiang. "We believe this is the first time a foreign leader is visiting PM Abe's holiday home", Gokhale said, referring to the dinner for Modi. "China supports Japan's efforts to improve its relationship with North Korea through dialogue and to resolve all unsettled issues".

During his evening meeting with Xi at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, the Japanese prime minister said, "We (Japan) would like to join hands with China in contributing to peace and stability in the world".

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) greeted Abe as the Japanese national flag flew outside the Great Hall of the People across from Tiananmen Square and they reviewed an honor guard before going inside for talks. In an interview with the South China Morning Post in the runup to Abe's arrival in Beijing, the Chinese ambassador to Japan, Cheng Yonghua, touted the countries' "highly complimentary" economies.

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