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Japan, China agree to boost economic cooperation amid trade war

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed Friday with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on boosting economic cooperation between their two countries, as bilateral ties have been drastically improving amid trade disputes with the United States.

During their meeting in Beijing, Abe and Li reached agreements to start talks about cooperation in state-of-the-art technology and protection of intellectual property rights as well as to resume their currency swap line in times of financial emergency.

«Switching from competition to collaboration, I want to lift Japan-China relations to a new era,» Abe told Li at the outset of their meeting. «Japan and China are neighbors and partners. We will not become a threat of each other.»

Li said, «Now that relations between the two countries have returned to a normal track, we would like to achieve win-win outcomes by stably developing our ties in the long term.»

«Especially regarding our economic and trade cooperation, we earnestly want to lift it to a new phase,» Li added.

Abe arrived in Beijing on Thursday for the first official visit to China by a Japanese political leader in nearly seven years. Until late last year, relations between Tokyo and Beijing had hit the worst level in decades over a territorial row in the East China Sea.

Since earlier this year, the governments of Asia’s two biggest economies have been trying to boost economic ties as U.S. President Donald Trump has either threatened or implemented tariffs in an attempt to curb the huge U.S. trade deficits with them.

Later Friday, Abe is scheduled to hold talks with President Xi Jinping. The Japanese prime minister has invited the Chinese head of state to visit Japan in the near future.

At their first meeting since May in Tokyo, Abe is believed to have proposed to Li that the two countries set up «development cooperation dialogue» to jointly deal with infrastructure projects in third nations.

On Friday, a forum is slated to take place to have dialogue about Chinese and Japanese infrastructure investment in other countries.

Abe and Li agreed that Japan and China will promote free trade, apparently warning against Trump’s trade protectionism.

Aiming to deepen trust in the security field, Tokyo and Beijing also signed an agreement to facilitate cooperation over search and rescue operations in the event of accidents in waters off the two nations.

Both countries, meanwhile, confirmed the importance of cooperation between them to achieve denuclearization of North Korea.

Before talking with Li, Abe was eager to urge China to relax its ban on Japanese food imports introduced following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis, Japanese government sources said.

As a symbol of friendship, Japan has been willing to ask for a new panda lease, the sources added.

For years, Tokyo and Beijing had been mired in a territorial spat over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The group of uninhabited islets, which are called Diaoyu in China, are controlled by Japan but claimed by Beijing.

Tensions particularly intensified after the Japanese government of former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Abe’s predecessor, decided to bring the Senkakus under state control in September 2012.

But the situation has drastically changed recently, as this year marks the 40th anniversary of the signing and taking effect of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China.

Abe is accompanied on the trip to Beijing by Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko and a large number of business leaders.

All — Kyodo News+

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