South Korea, China and Japan resume trilateral meeting to renew cooperation

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — China’s premier agreed Monday to renew three-way cooperation with South Korea and Japan in the face of shared challenges, but issued a veiled condemnation of the two countries’ expanding defense cooperation with the United States.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Seoul. Tripartite meeting More than four years.

Faced with economic uncertainty caused by wars and instability around the world, many experts say the resumption of high-level annual meetings among the three Northeast Asian neighbors to promote cooperation and acknowledge the need to improve ties is a positive sign. But it is unclear how strongly their cooperation will be promoted as the three countries have long-standing problems.

At a joint news conference after the meeting, China said it wanted to cooperate with South Korea and Japan on economic issues, particularly supply chains and resuming negotiations on the Three-Way Free Trade Agreement.

Yun said the three leaders agreed to promote people-to-people and cultural exchanges, establish secure supply chain networks, and work together to tackle shared environmental, health and other issues. Kishida said the three countries share a major responsibility for regional peace and that Japan will chair the next round of trilateral summits.

However, despite the meeting’s seemingly conciliatory mood, Li at one point voiced China’s displeasure with Japan and South Korea’s moves to strengthen their defense partnership with the United States, which Beijing sees as an attempt to create a bloc to contain China.

“We must have honest dialogues to improve trust and resolve doubts. We must maintain a sense of strategic autonomy and maintain our bilateral relations,” Li said in comments at the start of the meeting with Yun and Kishida. “We must promote multilateralism in the world and oppose the creation of camps or camps.”

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China is wary of Japan’s plan to buy US$400 Tomahawk long-range cruise missiles Allow repair and maintenance of US warships in Japan to support their operations in the Western Pacific. Expanding military drills between South Korea, the US and Japan have also drawn opposition from China.

Tripartite meeting It was briefly overshadowed by North Korea’s surprise announcement to Japan of its plan to launch a satellite early next week, an apparent attempt to put its second spy satellite into orbit.

The UN bans any satellite launches by North Korea, which it sees as disguised tests of the country’s long-range missile technology. North Korea has said it needs the spy satellites to better monitor South Korea and the United States and improve the precision strike capabilities of its missiles.

Yoon called for tough international action if North Korea launches a missile. Kishida urged North Korea to withdraw its satellite launches. But Li did not mention the launch plan as he offered general ideas about promoting peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula through a political resolution.

South Korea, Japan and the United States have long urged China — North Korea’s main ally and economic pipeline — to use its influence to persuade the North to abandon its nuclear ambitions. But the UN on North Korea. China is suspected of avoiding full enforcement of sanctions, sending secret aid to its poor, social neighbors and continuing to act as a bulwark against US influence on the Korean Peninsula.

In a bilateral meeting with Lee on Sunday, Yun asked China to contribute to promoting peace on the Korean Peninsula, while also addressing North Korea’s nuclear program and its deepening military ties with Russia.

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After meeting Li on Sunday, Kishida told reporters that he expressed serious concerns about the situation in the South China Sea, Hong Kong and China’s northwestern Xinjiang region. He said Japan was also closely monitoring developments in the autonomous Taiwan.

Kishida cited China’s military assertiveness in the South China Sea, restrictions on pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong and human rights abuses against minorities in Xinjiang. Last week, China also launched a major military exercise around Taiwan to show its anger over the inauguration of its new president. refuses to accept its insistence That Taiwan is a part of China.

On Monday, Li had yet to directly respond to external accusations against Chinese actions in the South China Sea or around Taiwan.

“China, Japan and South Korea should properly handle sensitive issues and points of difference, and take care of each other’s core interests and major concerns,” Li said. “Really create a true diversity.”

The three Asian countries together represent about 25% of global GDP and are closely linked to each other economically and culturally. But their relationship suffered repeated setbacks due to problems arising from Japan’s wartime occupation. China’s aspirations for greater global influence and the US drive to strengthen its Asian alliances have threatened to affect relations between the three Asian countries.

The China-South Korea-Japan trilateral meeting was supposed to be held annually following their first meeting in 2008. But from last December 2019 the sessions were stopped. Chengdu, China Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the often complicated relations between the three countries.

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Experts say all three countries want better relations. China is the largest trading partner of both South Korea and Japan. Analysts say China may feel that further strengthening South Korea-Japan-US security ties would not serve its national interests.

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Wu reported from Bangkok. Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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