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Saturday, October 31, 2015, 11:43

China, Japan and ROK summit to improve ties

By Cai Hong in Tokyo and Zhao Yinan in Beijing

The ice-thawing meeting to be held over the weekend among leaders of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea will provide new incentives for regional cooperation and promote the stability of all of Asia and even the Asia-Pacific region, experts said.

Premier Li Keqiang, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and ROK President Park Geun-hye are set to meet on Sunday, after a three-year hiatus in such talks due to disputes over wartime history and territorial issues. It will be the first time for Li to officially visit the ROK as Chinese premier.

At the summit, the leaders are set to discuss topics including international cooperation on production capacity, technological innovation, the coordination of development strategies, free trade talks and regional economic integration.

Piao Jianyi, a researcher of Korean Peninsula studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the summit will be the most important diplomatic event for China regarding Northeastern Asia relations.

"Considering the economic clout of these three countries in Asia, decisions made at the summit by the three leaders will influence the future of Asia and even Asia-Pacific at large," he said.

"The leaders will exchange views on trilateral relations and regional issues, such as pushing for peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula," he said. "Although the restart of the summit does not necessarily mean that the three countries have overcome their problems, it shows an intention to handle the differences."

Shigeo Iwatani, a Japanese diplomat and former secretary-general of the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat, said the summit will be a big push for the trilateral relations.

"It could take a new major initiative to bring the level of cooperation one step forward," he said.

China, Japan and the ROK launched the trilateral organization in September 2011, a milestone in the process of building friendship and trust among the three countries.

"Although there are a lot of difficulties in the Japan-China relationship, there are also a lot of positive, cooperative activities going on and room for cooperation in the future," Iwatani said. "People should pay more attention to this positive side of the relationship."

Frequent meetings can help build personal relationships between Chinese and Japanese leaders. By discussing pending issues based on such mutual personal trust, the two countries can avoid worsening of the relationship in the future and might find solutions to various issues, he added.

Harunobu Kato, executive commentator of Japan's NHK broadcasting corporation, said he hoped that more cooperation among the three countries will play a bigger role in peace and stability in East Asia.

"I hope that the meeting will help the three leaders to understand each other more and find more approaches to improve relations," Kato said, adding that if the three countries reached a free-trade agreement, it would bring great benefits for all.

He said that if Li and Abe meet, this would help them have more ideas for developing a win-win relationship.

When the two countries cooperate, both win; and when they confront, both lose, he added.

China is the largest trading partner of Japan and South Korea, while Japan is China's second-largest single-country trading partner and South Korea its third, with their trading volume last year totaling $307.5 billion and $235.4 billion, respectively, according to China's Ministry of Commerce.

The three countries' combined GDP accounts for 20 percent of that of the whole world.

Shan Yi contributed to this story.

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