By Gaurav Sharma
Beijing, Oct 26 (IANS) China and Japan, arch rivals in Asia, on Friday warmed up to each other as both countries stuck a slew of deals and pledged to improve their ties as the US cranks up pressure on them for trade concessions.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s three-day official China visit, the first such trip by a Japanese Premier in seven years, is a sign of a thaw in Sino-Japanese ties that nosedived in 2012 when Tokyo nationalised some islands in the East China Sea also claimed by Beijing.
Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang held talks at the Great Hall where both sides formalised agreements ranging from currency swap deals to joint venture projects in third countries.
Abe, accompanied by a 500-member business delegation, will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping later in the day.
“The China-Japan relationship has gone through wind and rain in the past four decades, yet peace, friendship and cooperation have always been the mainstream,” Li said.
China and Japan commemorated the 40 years to the treaty of peace and friendship between the two countries. Japan’s invasion of China and atrocities during the time still rankles in Chinese minds.
“On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the treaty, we need to adhere to the general direction of peace, friendship and cooperation and conform to the trend of the times so as to jointly build more mature, steady and progressive China-Japan ties,” Li said.
“The two sides need to understand each other and foster their strategic positioning in a right way. The consensus that China and Japan are partners rather than mutual threats should be better implemented in concrete actions.”
Abe said Beijing had scored remarkable achievements since its reform and opening up while Japan also stepped forward alongside China.
He said Japan and China played “an irreplaceable role” in the world’s economic progress and added that both sides will jointly contribute to the continuous development of cooperation and to world peace and prosperity.
China and Japan, the second and third largest economies in the world, are bitter rivals. Tokyo is an old ally of the US and Beijing is a new adversary of Washington.
Experts say that with President Donald Trump’s stepping up trade pressure on China and even US allies had brought Tokyo and Beijing together.
Japan and China have a long-standing dispute over a set of islands in the East China Sea.
Tokyo is also a part of the anti-China bloc “Quad” which has the US, Australia and India as members.
However, the Japanese need greater access to the Chinese market, especially at a time when new trade problems with the US have cropped up.
China wants Japanese technology and cannot afford an anti-Beijing Japan when it is facing the heat from the US on multiple fronts.