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China, Japan, ROK seek to deepen integration as summit resumes

Updated: May 9,2018 10:18 AM

Leaders of China, Japan and South Korea will have their first meeting since 2015 in Tokyo on May 9. The meeting — the seventh of its kind — is expected to open up new prospects for cooperation, and contribute to regional peace, stability and prosperity.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on May 4 Premier Li Keqiang will attend the trilateral leaders’ meeting during his visit to Japan from May 8 to May 11, noting that the meeting will deepen cooperation among China, Japan and South Korea.

Topping the leaders’ agenda are their common concerns.

Professor Gao Hong from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences thinks that the three nations are facing a changing global pattern, and their economic integration in the region should be pushed forward timely.

He said that what’s more important is that the three need to have mutual political trust.

Free Trade Agreement negotiations among them lacked substantive progress following a trilateral Investment Agreement signed in 2012.

And what remains as a concern for China and South Korea is Japan’s stance on historical and territorial issues.

But coming together again is a good start.

Rong Ying, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), said the resumption of the stalled China-Japan-South Korea high-level talks would be very important for their ties, for regional peace and development, and for a more open world economy, and people have high expectations.

The trilateral mechanism was initiated in 1999, with annual leaders’ meeting launched in 2008. Despite suspensions in 2012 and 2015 due to policy disagreements, the countries are intertwined with each other.

According to Chinese official data, the total trade among the three countries registered around $670 billion in 2017, and over 28 million people traveled in between the three countries.

The main task for their leaders now is to seek more common ground during this meeting. That also includes seeking peace and stability in the region, like the recent encouraging signs of cooperation and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.

Many hope the long-expected meeting focusing on the direction of future cooperation can push forward the negotiations on the trilateral Free Trade Agreement, oppose trade protectionism and promote regional economic integration.