Abe’s visit to Beijing highlights warming China-Japan ties

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Abe’s visit to Beijing highlights warming China-Japan ties

The Japanese prime minister will meet Chinese president Xi Jinping later amid a visit which saw firms sign deals worth £14 billion.


Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe shakes hands with Chinese premier Li Keqiang (AP)
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe shakes hands with Chinese premier Li Keqiang (AP)

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe held a second meeting with Chinese premier Li Keqiang during the first formal visit to Beijing by a Japanese leader in nearly seven years.

The trip heralds warming ties following years of acrimony between the two countries.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Mr Li said 500 business agreements worth £14 billion had been signed between Chinese and Japanese companies during the visit, displaying the “bright future” for cooperation between both sides.

Mr Abe, who has been accompanied by a 500-strong business delegation, expressed hopes for closer ties and a shift in relations from an age of “competition to cooperation”, an apparent reference to rifts that until recently have muted Japanese business interests in China.

The Japanese PM is due to meet Chinese president Xi Jinping later on Friday, possibly cementing the steady recovery in relations that hit a low in 2012 amid a dispute over East China Sea islands.

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Mr Abe and Mr Li review an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing (AP)

Ties have also been dogged by enduring Chinese resentment over Japan’s invasion and occupation during the Second World War and a political, military and economic rivalry for influence in Asia and beyond.

However, for now at least, the sides appear to have drawn closer by economic necessity brought about partly by US president Donald Trump’s punitive tariffs on imports.

Asia’s two largest economies are seeking to deepen trade, investment and cooperation on infrastructure and other projects in third countries.

China is Japan’s largest trading partner and economic ties have remained strong despite political differences.

Mr Abe is scheduled to return to Japan on Saturday. The last such visit was in late 2011.

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