China and Japan pledge to strengthen ties amid trade war

China and Japan pledge to strengthen ties amid trade war

13/09/18

Joshua Lay, Business and Policy Researcher

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, where they pledged to improve bilateral ties and “safeguard multilateralism, the free trade system and the rules of the World Trade Organization, and promote the building of an open global economy,” Xinhua reports.

Promising to speed up cooperation between the two rivals, Xi said China and Japan “should take the responsibility… in safeguarding peace, stability, development and prosperity.”

Abe agreed, noting the “horizon for cooperation” was extending, the Asahi Shimbun reports. A visit by Abe to China is being arranged next month, possibly on 23 October, according to Reuters.

The meeting comes as hopes for a US-China trade deal to calm fears of a global trade war fade, the Wall Street Journal reports.

China fears that the US is seeking to create a united front among its allies to attack Chinese trade and economic practices. Washington has sought to end its conflicts with allies by brokering a trade truce with the EU and concluding NAFTA renegotiations.

The Financial Times reports an unusual trilateral forum that took place on 23 August between the US, EU and Japan to combat unfair trading practices by unnamed “third countries,” where a Japanese official noted Tokyo was “basically in total agreement with [US President Donald] Trump’s viewpoints regarding market access and other issues in China.”

China has sought to drive a wedge into any such front and avoid isolation through a renewed charm offensive. The Mainichi reports Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s meetings in Beijing on 12 September with a top Japanese business delegation, where Li promised to maintain “the right track” of Sino-Japanese relations. China will also seek to underline its commitment to global free trade at the World Economic Forum’s Twelfth Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin, taking place from 18 to 20 September, the South China Morning Post reports.