China, Japan hold di­a­logue

Free trade cen­tered on WTO rules should be safe­guarded

Global Times US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Ma Jingjing

China and Japan held their first high-level eco­nomic di­a­logue on Mon­day af­ter a hia­tus of eight years, sig­nal­ing re­newed co­op­er­a­tion in high-end man­u­fac­tur­ing and the ser­vice sec­tor amid a pend­ing trade war be­tween China and the US.

Chi­nese State Coun­cilor and Foreign Min­is­ter Wang Yi and the Min­is­ter of Foreign Af- fairs of Japan Taro Kono jointly presided over the talks along with of­fi­cials from both gov­ern­ments.

Wang told the meet­ing that bi­lat­eral eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion is at a new start­ing point, fac­ing new his­toric con­di­tions and macro en­vi­ron­ment. The two sides should deepen com­mu­ni­ca­tion from both strate­gic and prag­matic per­spec­tives to boost mu­tual un­der­stand­ing, accu- mu­late mu­tual trust, pro­mote co­or­di­na­tion and en­hance co­op­er­a­tion, said Wang.

Kono said that eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion is an im­por­tant foun­da­tion and driv­ing force for Japan-China re­la­tions.

Japan at­taches high im­por­tance to the im­por­tant mes­sages sent by Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping at the open­ing cer­e­mony of the Boao Fo­rum for Asia An­nual Con­fer­ence 2018. In the face of ris­ing pro­tec­tion­ism, the free trade sys­tem cen­tered on the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WTO) should be safe­guarded and trade is­sues should be han­dled ac­cord­ing to WTO rules, Kono added. With China-Japan trade and eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion en­ter­ing a new era, the sec­ond and the third largest economies in the

world need to com­mu­ni­cate poli­cies and mea­sures, ex­perts noted.

Amid an im­prove­ment in bi­lat­eral re­la­tions, this is a good op­por­tu­nity for the two coun­tries to carry out fur­ther eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion and for Japan to join the China-pro­posed Belt and Road ini­tia­tive, said Chen Zilei, deputy di­rec­tor of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for the Ja­panese Econ­omy.

“Japan’s strug­gling econ­omy and slow progress in Japan-US eco­nomic di­a­logue makes it ur­gent for the coun­try to ex­plore new mar­kets. And China is un­doubt­edly a thriv­ing one,” said Shen Minghui, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Cen­ter for APEC and East Asian Co­op­er­a­tion with the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences.

If the two coun­tries can reach new con­sen­sus dur­ing the talks, it would bode well for fu­ture ne­go­ti­a­tions on a Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship and a China-Japan-South Korea free trade agree­ment, Shen told the Global Times, adding he ex­pects an out­come this year.

China and Japan’s eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion has shown up­ward mo­men- tum since the lead­ers of the two coun­tries reached a sig­nif­i­cant con­sen­sus on im­prov­ing bi­lat­eral re­la­tions in Novem­ber 2017, Chi­nese Min­is­ter of Com­merce Zhong Shan said Sun­day dur­ing a meet­ing with his Ja­panese coun­ter­part Hiroshige Seko in Tokyo.

Eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity

Bi­lat­eral trade be­tween China and Japan ex­ceeded $300 bil­lion in 2017, with Ja­panese in­vest­ment in China re­bound­ing, and Chi­nese in­vest­ment in new eco­nomic mod­els in Japan such as cross-border e-com­merce, mo­bile pay­ment, and the shar­ing econ­omy also in­creas­ing, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Com­merce web­site.

As of Jan­uary 2018, China re­mains the sec­ond-largest ex­port des­ti­na­tion and Japan’s largest im­porter.

Peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes were also on the rise, with the num­ber of tourists to Japan from the Chi­nese main­land reach­ing 7.3 mil­lion last year, up 15 per­cent year-on-year.

With the ad­just­ment in China’s in­dus­trial struc­ture along with new mea­sures for con­tin­u­ing re­form and open­ing-up, the two coun­try’s in­dus­trial co­op­er­a­tion is chang­ing shape.

“Ja­panese in­vest­ment has shifted from man­u­fac­tur­ing to ser­vices, but now has moved to high-end man­u­fac­tur­ing. Mean­while, Chi­nese com­pa­nies in the in­ter­net and shar­ing econ­omy sec­tors are rush­ing to en­ter Japan, rep­re­sented by Huawei and Ali­pay,” Chen said.

Look­ing ahead, ex­perts said the two coun­tries have po­ten­tial co­op­er­a­tive op­por­tu­ni­ties in the ser­vices, ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing and in­no­va­tion sec­tors.

Wang listed a num­ber of ar­eas the two coun­tries should work on to up­grade bi­lat­eral eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing en­ergy con­ser­va­tion, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, science and tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion, high-end man­u­fac­tur­ing, fi­nance and bank­ing, the shar­ing econ­omy, med­i­cal and el­der care in­dus­tries.

With China up­grad­ing its ed­u­ca­tion and health­care, Japan can ex­pect to en­joy more eco­nomic spillover through China’s open­ing up, Shen said.

China’s State Coun­cilor and Foreign Min­is­ter Wang Yi (left) shakes hands with Japan’s Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe at the start of their meet­ing at Abe’s of­fi­cial res­i­dence in Tokyo on Mon­day.

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