BEIJING (Reuters) - China and Japan on Friday pledged to forge closer ties as both countries stood together at an “historic turning point”, signing a broad range of agreements including a $30 billion currency swap pact, amid rising trade tensions with Washington.
The pacts were reached on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s three-day visit to Beijing as the two neighbours looked to carve out new areas of cooperation and seek new ways to promote trust, which has been fragile at times since diplomatic relations resumed in 1972.
Japanese firms including big auto companies like Toyota hope to see normalised ties with China so they can compete with U.S. and European rivals, while Beijing expects Tokyo’s endorsement of its ambitious Belt and Road programme, an initiative that Chinese President Xi Jinping hopes will further boost trade and transport links with other countries.
Abe said on Friday that bilateral relations with China are at an “historic turning point” and that he expects new possibilities in industries such as infrastructure, logistics, healthcare and finance.
Abe has held “frank” discussions with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang since arriving in Beijing on Thursday and is expected to meet with Xi later on Friday in the first full-scale Sino-Japanese summit since 2011.
Efforts in advancing China-Japan ties should “persevere unremittingly to prevent the appearance of new twists and turns” so that previous efforts did not go to waste, said Li at a joint briefing with Abe on Friday.
“The Chinese side is willing to work with the Japanese side to return to a normal track, and maintain the stable, sustained and healthy development of bilateral relations,” he said, adding that he had held candid discussions with Abe since his arrival on matters of mutual concerns.
They reached consensus, Li said, that safeguarding long-term healthy and stable China-Japan ties was in accordance with the interests of both countries and the region and the world.
($1 = 112.2300 yen)
Reporting by Philip Wen and Norihiko Shirouzu; Writing by Ryan Woo; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Michael Perry