Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has arrived in China on a reset visit that is expected to trigger significant collaboration between Tokyo and Beijing in developing infrastructure in Asia.
Soon after his arrival, Mr. Abe was accorded a reception, hosted by his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang, at the Great Hall of the People. The function was held to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the China-Japan treaty of friendship.
“Japan and China are playing an indispensable role in the economic development of not just Asia but the world,” Mr. Abe said during his speech at the function.
Mr. Abe will be accorded a ceremonial welcome on Friday morning and will hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping later in the day. “This is a breakthrough visit, important not just for the China-Japan relations, but whose significance would be felt in the region and the world,” Huang Jing, Dean of the International and Regional Studies Center at the Beijing Language and Culture University, told The Hindu .
During Mr. Abe’s talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li, the leaders are expected to seek areas of convergence between China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Japan’s concept of a free and open Indo-Pacific. Analysts say that they are expected to discuss joint development of infrastructure in Asia and Africa during talks.
Tagged with politically benefiting from “debt traps” through its loans to developing countries, China is particularly keen to work together with reputed Japanese financial firms in third countries.
The overhang of the trade war between Beijing and Washington, as well as U.S. restrictions on Japanese exports of steel and aluminum, are expected to shape the conversation between Mr. Abe and his Chinese interlocutors. “There are structural reasons why Mr. Abe wants closer ties not just with China but other significant players such as Russia and India.
He senses the decline in U.S. influence in the Asia-Pacific, which is a major factor persuading him to re-define Japan’s role in the region,” Professor Huang observed. Ahead of his arrival, Mr. Abe told China’s Xinhua news agency and other state media that Japan-China ties were advancing towards a “new phase,” following his meetings with President Xi, including September talks with the Chinese leader in Vladivostok, during a forum where joint development of Russia’s Far East and Northeast Asia was in focus.
The Nikkei Asian Review is reporting that Japan and China are expected to promote around 50 private-sector, third-country infrastructure projects this week, setting in motion the first joint deal of building a smart city in Thailand as early as this year. “The two countries see third-country infrastructure as a cornerstone of their growing economic cooperation,” the daily observed.