China, Japan To Forge Closer Ties At ‘Historic Turning Point’

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"Also, we are sharing more common interests and concerns in multilateral and wider areas", Xi said.

During meetings, the two countries signed a $30 billion currency swap aimed at facilitating money exchanges for businesses.

Japan's leader says the relationship between his country and China is entering a new phase, switching from competition to cooperation.

The Trump administration's unconventional foreign policy toward trade and military alliances has left Tokyo feeling unsure of the USA support which has underlined its worldwide relations since the end of World War II.

Tensions over territorial disputes in the East China Sea have always been a key source of friction between the two countries.

Abe said he sought frank talks with Xi and Li covering North Korea and trade issues.

Abe told Li that Japan will end official development assistance to China, which Tokyo has continued since the year after the two countries signed the bilateral Treaty of Peace and Friendship in 1978, after implementing a new assistance program this fiscal year.

The Chinese premier said in a speech at Beijing's Great Hall of the People on Thursday that China and Japan should safeguard free trade and anchor global growth.

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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Abe's three-day trip, which began Thursday, sets up the possibility that Xi will visit Japan next year.

"Though the U.S. is quite an influential factor in China-Japan ties, the effect is limited", China's nationalistic Global Times said in an editorial.

Beijing and Tokyo have historically had very different relationships with Washington - one borderline adversarial, the other a close alliance - but both countries now face similar complaints from the Trump administration.

At the Beijing summit though, Mr Abe said Tokyo was "determined" to normalise diplomatic relations with Pyongyang if there was progress on denuclearisation and the release of Japanese citizens.

That is particularly true in the East China Sea, where in addition to the islands, China and Japan are at odds over the exploitation of natural gas and other resources.

In short, the Trump administration's eschewing of the American-built liberal world order for a realpolitik, transactional approach to foreign policy has inadvertently provided the foundation for Japan and China to move historical grievances to the wayside and return to their post-normalization dynamic of "hot economics/cold politics" known as Seikei Bunri/ 政経分離 in Japanese.

It was unclear, what specific rights issues Abe raised. China is already Japan's largest trading partner and Japanese companies from carmakers to department stores play a major role in the Chinese economy.

Xi also called for Japan to "keep its promise" and to act according to the four documents signed by the two countries over 40 years ago when they established formal ties. In an interview with the South China Morning Post in the runup to Abe's arrival in Beijing, the Chinese ambassador to Japan, Cheng Yonghua, touted the countries' "highly complimentary" economies. Whereas a real warming of relations would be welcome in the region, the reality is that the hard security, economic, and political issues that have divided the two Asia giants remain and they can not be easily resolved.

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