China hosts Japan and South Korea in show of regional unity

Parvez Jabri August 21, 2019

BEIJING: Foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea made commitments Wednesday to diffuse regional tensions and make progress towards the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, although there was no sign of improving ties between Tokyo and Seoul.

The East Asian nations held a three-way summit in Beijing this week, with China positioning itself as mediator in a growing trade spat between Japan and South Korea.

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi said in a statement Wednesday that Beijing was “concerned about the recent difficulties” between Tokyo and Seoul, and urged the two to “constructively handle their differences and find appropriate solutions to the problems”.

“We should pay more attention to each other’s concerns and actively coordinate with each other,” said Wang.

Seoul and Tokyo — both of them democracies and market economies — are mired in long-running disputes over Japan’s use of forced labour in the first half of the 20th century.

The two have been embroiled in a tit-for-tat trade war that saw them remove each other from their lists of trusted trading partners this month, raising concerns over global supply chains.

South Korea has also said it would also review a military information sharing agreement.

In a press briefing on Wednesday, vice-spokesman for the foreign minister of Japan Jun Saito said in their bilateral meetings Japan and South Korea had “agreed that they should further continue to have close exchange of views and close channel of communications”.

But when asked about the potential lapsing of the military information agreement, he only said the issue was “raised during the meeting”.

However, the three parties found common ground over the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, and said they discussed other aspects of mutual economic and environmental cooperation.

“We believe that in the face of downside risks in the world economy, China, Japan and South Korea, as important influential economies, should strengthen the communication and coordination of macroeconomic policies… and inject new impetus into global economic growth,” said Wang.

“We agreed to further cooperate to obtain our common goal of denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula,” Saito said, saying there was also discussion of a future trip to Japan by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Press), 2019

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