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Beijing, Tokyo voice support for free trade amid high-level talks

Updated: Apr 17,2018 6:50 AM     China Daily

China and Japan voiced their support for free trade based on the World Trade Organization and warned against protectionism on April 16.

In a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said both countries should strengthen communication and coordination, stand against protectionism, safeguard the global free trade system with the WTO as the core and build an open world economy.

Abe said Japan also values WTO rules and thinks trade problems should be settled according to such rules. Japan pays great attention to the new measures President Xi Jinping announced for expanding China’s opening-up at the recent annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia and believes such measures promote bilateral economic ties, he said.

The two sides also expressed their hope for cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.

China values Abe’s positive comments on the Belt and Road, Wang said, adding that China hopes to discuss with Japan appropriate ways and specific paths for Tokyo to participate.

Abe said he expects the initiative to help the regional economy to recover and develop.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Abe said his country values highly its ties with China and hopes to use the opportunity to improve their ties across the board and achieve high level exchanges. Abe also said he looks forward to and welcomes Premier Li Keqiang to attend the leaders’ meeting between China, Japan and the Republic of Korea and to make an official visit to Japan.

China values the positive signs Abe has been showing since last year on improving ties, Wang said, adding that they should treasure the hard-won momentum.

Also on April 16, Wang coled the fourth bilateral high-level economic dialogue in Tokyo with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono. The dialogue had been stalled for nearly eight years.

At the dialogue, ministers in charge of treasury, economy and diplomacy reached a wide range of consensuses, according to a Foreign Ministry news release.

Beijing and Tokyo should jointly advance the integration process of the East Asia economy and spur negotiations on the China-Japan-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership free trade pact, Wang said. In addition, they should move closer to building the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, he said.

Jiang Ruiping, vice-president of China Foreign Affairs University and an expert on Japan’s economy, said Beijing and Tokyo have every reason to better coordinate with each other to catalyze regional free trade negotiations.

They could shift mutual competition in third-party markets such as Southeast Asia and Africa into cooperation to minimize unnecessary competition, Jiang added.