Summit Between Three Asian Countries to be Held in Seoul
A summit with the government leaders from China, Japan and the Republic of Korea will be held in Seoul this Sunday a latest sign of coming ties between Tokyo and Beijing. Discussion about the long awaited free trade agreement and strategies for a deeper economic integration is placed on the agenda and the summit is the first of its kind as leaders from three countries was halted for three years due to disputes over wartime history and territorial issues.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has confirmed that Premier Li Keqiang will be making an official three day visit to the Republic of Korea this Saturday and will be present during the summit. Although it didn’t say whether Li was scheduled to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the summit sidelines. Deputy minister for foreign affairs Liu Zhenmin said that Beijing and Tokyo are in contact at a working level about this issue, the trilateral meeting is aimed to boost exchanges among the three nations and hopefully maintain stability in the region. Meanwhile South Korean President Park Geun-hye will be meeting with LI Keqiang in Seoul on Saturday.
Tong Daochi the assistant minister of commerce stated that China is pushing towards a substantive progress in the free trade talks with Korea and Japan which is now at the eight round of negotiations after it was started in 2012. Li Keqiang will try to synergize Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative with Korea’s ambition for closer ties among Asian and European countries during his visit. Other issues that will be discussed during the summit include the stability and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Director of the Research Department at the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies Zhang Tousheng said that the summit is a breakthrough as trilateral relations have suffered a great deal from the tension between Japan and China in 2012. The meetings should have been held in 2012, but in manner that facilitates free trade talks among the three parties. Now the three countries are setting up separate free trade agreements with other nations but not a single treaty in terms have been completed among them.
An adviser for the think tank for the Japan Foundation Kazuo Ogoura and a former Japanese ambassador to the Republic of Korea said during a forum in Beijing on Sunday that the platforms for communications among the three countries are important. These three nations should build up a series of meetings not only in the level of president or prime minister but in various official levels as well. Ties between Beijing and Tokyo are showing signs of improvement since last year and senior officials from the two countries held working level meetings since then. Based on an annual survey hostility and pessimism among the Chinese and Japanese public is easing although historical and territorial issues still continue to have a negative impact.