In the face of both facing trade challenges from US president Donald Trump, Japan and China touted their rare close ties as they signed $2.6 billion in business deals during the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to China.
Following the lowest point in mutual relations between the two largest Asian economies in 20912 when Japan “nationalised” disputed islands claimed by Beijing, there has been some improvement in the relationship between the two countries.
The two leaders had agreed to “play a constructive role for the sake of this region’s peace and prosperity”, said Abe while addressing a joint press conference.
“I believe active trade will deepen ties between Japanese and Chinese peoples further,” he said.
“Now, international conditions are unstable, and uncertainties have increased,” Li said, adding that the countries’ economic cooperation would “benefit the development of global free trade”.
And this betterment in relationship has been hastened by the actions of Trump in imposing huge tariffs on Chinese products worth billions of dollars and the targeting of Japanese trade with the aim of reducing US trade deficit with both these countries. This, despite vouching for the personal bonds between Trump and Abe and the Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Li said that 500 deals worth a total of $2.6 billion were struck by almost a 1000 member delegation that Abe had taken with him to Beijing. No further details of the deals were however provided to the media.
While China wants to get access to Japanese technology and knowhow, the interest of Japanese companies is in accessing the huge Chinese market.
“Though the US is quite an influential factor in China-Japan ties, the effect is limited,” China’s nationalistic Global Times said in an editorial.
“If Beijing and Tokyo intend to plan their future bilateral relationship based on Washington’s attitude, they will only get lost,” the state-run daily said.
A number of political agreements were also overseen by the two leaders. Such agreements included a deal for currency swap and a mechanism designed to prevent any form of accidental clashes between the militaries of the two nations especially in the East China Sea where the often meet each other face to face.
The last time a Japanese prime minister had paid an official visit to China was in 2011.
Following the three day visit of Abe, there is a possibility of the Chinese premier also making a visit to Tokyo next year.
There are however continuous frictions between the two countries over territorial disputes.
An official complaint was recent launched by Tokyo against China accusing its ships of moving around the disputed islands that Tokyo calls the Senkaku and Beijing labels the Diaoyu islands.
(Adapted from TheNation.com)