China, Japan and Korea to hold summit!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
According to reports, South Korean President Park Geun Hye will host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at a meeting in Seoul, South Korea that would probably be held on Sunday.
East Asian powers China, Japan and South Korea will hold the summit when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visits, China and South Korea, the first such meeting since they were discontinued in 2012 amid tension dating back to World War II. The trilateral meetings were an annual occurrence until 2012, when the process broke down amid territorial disputes and lingering animosity over Japan’s role in World War II.
Li will visit South Korea from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. Li’s trip to South Korea would be the first visit by a Chinese premier in five years. The two countries will sign bilateral agreements on economic cooperation, trade, education, technology and environmental protection. A stalled three-way trade deal would be on the agenda for the talks, Liu said.
The summit, held annually since 2008, was discontinued amid diplomatic tension between Japan and South Korea stemming both from the war and a territorial dispute. South Korea had demanded Japan do more to compensate Korean women forced into prostitution in Japanese brothels during wartime.
China and South Korea suffered under Japan’s sometimes brutal occupation and colonial rule before Tokyo’s defeat in 1945. Ties with Japan have long been strained by what Seoul and Beijing see as Japanese leaders’ reluctance to atone for the country’s wartime past.
Relations between South Korea and Japan, and China and Japan have been strained for years due mainly to Tokyo’s attempts to whitewash its wartime atrocities and colonial occupation.
Japan had earlier ruled the Korean Peninsula as a colony and controlled much of China in the early part of the 20th century. South Korea and Japan have long been at odds over the issue of Korean women who were forced to serve as sex slaves for Japan’s troops during World War II. China and Japan have been sparring over a territorial dispute involving islands in the East China Sea, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
A trilateral summit has not been held since May 2012. In November, South Korean President Park Geunhye expressed her hope to meet with the Chinese and Japanese leaders following a meeting of their top diplomats. Last April, Seoul and Tokyo launched talks on Japan’s sex slavery, but no breakthrough has been made due largely to Japan’s attitude. Yun and Fumio, meanwhile, agreed to make efforts for progress over ongoing bilateral talks on the former sex slaves.
Last year, S. Korea, China, Japan vowed efforts to hold summit at early date. The top diplomats of South Korea, China and Japan agreed to continue efforts to hold a trilateral summit of their leaders at an early date as they seek to revive cooperation amid history and territorial rows. The pledge came at a meeting between South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byungse and his Chinese and Japanese counterparts Wang Yi and Fumio Kishida.
The neighbors have been moving to improve ties, holding a foreign ministers’ meeting in March and trying to restore what had been a regular forum at the summit level to discuss cooperation.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, speaking at a daily news briefing, did not provide an exact date, but Japanese media have said it would be on Nov. 1 in Seoul.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s office said she would meet Li on Oct. 31 in Seoul. It did not announce dates for the trilateral summit or Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit. Park said this month she hoped the three-way meeting would help clear obstacles to better relations with Tokyo and boost stability in Northeast Asia.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told reporters in Beijing that while issues of history would inevitably be brought up, the three countries also had important shared economic interests and needed to get relations back on track. “If there is no cooperation between these three countries, then you can’t talk about cooperation in East Asia,” Liu said.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has met Chinese President Xi Jinping twice since November 2014. But Abe has not had a one-on-one summit with Park since taking office in December 2012.
China viewed that as they are upholding their unchanged position on history and interests, resuming the trilateral summit and increasing cooperation accords will only help them go further with the peoples of all three countries gaining a lot.
China, Japan and South Korea will discuss a pending free-trade agreement in the summit when they hold their first trilateral summit in three years, a sign that cooperation between the countries is back on track.
The goal of the three-party meeting is to boost communications between the
three nations and to maintain stability in the region. The Asian neighbors are facing a growing threat from North Korea’s expanding military muscle and seeking ways to boost trade and bolster their economies.
The talks are taking on new importance after the completion of the US-led Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement this month linking a dozen countries accounting for 40 percent of global economic output. “We hope to accelerate” the free-trade talks, Liu said. “We have full confidence in the cooperation with Japan and Korea and East Asia at large. We will have to learn the successful experiences of the EU and North America.”
By facing history squarely and advancing toward the future, the three foreign ministers also agreed that the three nations should address related issues properly and to work together to improve bilateral relations and to strengthen trilateral cooperation.
The foreign ministers also reaffirmed their “firm opposition” to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. “The three ministers decided to continue their joint efforts to resume meaningful six party talks to make substantial progress in the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” a joint statement showed. The six party talks involving the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia have been dormant since late 2008 when the North walked away from the negotiation table. Pyongyang later demanded that the six party talks should resume without any preconditions. But Seoul and Washington have said that North Korea should first demonstrate its willingness to denuclearize.
The ministers also agreed to make efforts towards the acceleration of negotiations for a trilateral free trade agreement. The trilateral meeting also came at a time when Seoul’s diplomacy has been put to the test amid a mounting US-China row over the possibility of an advanced US missile defense system on Korean soil and a China led Asian development bank. South Korea is struggling to walk a diplomatic tightrope between the USA, Seoul’s key ally, and China, Seoul’s largest trading partner, over the sensitive security issue.
Separately, Yun held bilateral meetings with Wang and Kishida, respectively. Wang did not bring up the controversial issue of Washington’s possible deployment of an advanced US missile defense system on Korean soil at the meeting with Yun.
For the three countries, the issue of shared history is not a matter of the past, but a current issue,” Wang said in a press conference. “It is important to face up to the history and move forward to the future based on such understanding”.
Any improvement in Japanese-South Korean ties would be welcomed by the USA, whose efforts to balance China’s growing assertiveness in the region and deter North Korea have been hampered by disagreements between its two main East Asian allies.
It is important to make the world free of nuke weapons as this year marks the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan by USA.