Date
25 September 2017
Japan's Shinzo Abe (left) says a mere handshake with China's Xi Jinping (righ) will go a long way to enhancing stability in the region. Photo: Reuters
Japan's Shinzo Abe (left) says a mere handshake with China's Xi Jinping (righ) will go a long way to enhancing stability in the region. Photo: Reuters

Officials scramble to get Xi, Abe to meet at APEC

Frenetic efforts are under way to arrange a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo on the sidelines of next week’s APEC summit, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A meeting between the leaders of Asia’s biggest economies is seen as a critical measure of success of the top-level annual gathering, scheduled to begin on Monday in Beijing.    

Officials from Beijing and Tokyo have held marathon sessions in recent weeks to try to set up the meeting.

If it materializes, it would be their first face-to-face since both took power nearly two years ago.

However, few officials and analysts expect such a meeting to result in a major diplomatic breakthrough.

A handshake would be hailed as progress given the long hiatus in top-level exchanges, the report said.

Ties have been strained in the past two years as the two nations have bickered over territory and World War II history.

The tensions have also prompted dangerous encounters between Chinese and Japanese forces in the air and at sea.

The United States has been concerned about an escalation in tensions in the region.

A State Department spokeswoman said Washington encourages good relations between the region’s neighbors, “and if that was one step in that process, then that would be a good thing”.

The quarrel has also affected their economic relationship.

For the first eight months of 2014, Japan’s direct investments in China plunged 43 percent from a year earlier, after shrinking 4.3 percent last year, according to Japan’s government trade agency, the report said.

“I believe the mere act of the two leaders meeting and shaking hands will contribute to the peace and stability of the region,” Abe said in September as he called on Mr. Xi to sit down with him at APEC.

Abe has called for the resumption of bilateral talks to set up a mechanism to respond to maritime emergencies.

Such a system is even more important now because of the recent arrival of hundreds of Chinese ships, which Japan says are illegally hunting for precious corals in its waters, officials said.

– Contact us at snglish@hkej.com

RA

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