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Asian rivals China, Japan vow ‘new starting point’ in ties 

Tokyo, April 16

Asian rivals China and Japan on Monday pledged a “new starting point” for bilateral ties, vowing to co-operate closely amid a flurry of diplomacy on the North Korean missile threat.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Japanese counterpart at a meeting in Tokyo: “With both of us standing on a new starting point, I hope we will promote the further development of both nations by opening a new future of bilateral cooperation.” Relations between the pair are entering an “important phase of improvement and growth,” Wang added, on a rare visit by a top Chinese official to Japan.

Tokyo is battling to stay relevant amid a string of summits on North Korea’s nuclear programme in which Beijing is likely to be a major player.

With this in mind, Japan is pushing to host a trilateral meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Bilateral visits by Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping are also being planned.

China demonstrated its significant influence over its reclusive ally when Xi hosted the North’s leader Kim Jong-un and his wife in Beijing last month.

With Moon and Trump also preparing to meet Kim, reported efforts by Japan to reach out to Pyongyang have gone ignored.

Meanwhile, Japan and China are also targets of Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs, with Beijing also targeted with a further heavy levy.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Wang did not specifically mention the proposed US trade policies, as its implementation and consequences were still unclear.

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