Trade, Taiwan in focus as Chinese Premier Li Qiang meets leaders of Japan, South Korea ahead of 3-way summit in Seoul

According to Japan’s Kyodo News, Kishida also asked that China lift its ban on imports of Japanese seafood. The ban, imposed last year by an angry Beijing after Japan went ahead with plans to release radioactive water from its damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, has cast a shadow over bilateral relations.

Li demanded that Japan “fulfil its own responsibilities and obligations” on the issue, while also urging that it “properly handle the issues of history and Taiwan”, according to CCTV.

The Kyodo report said Kishida had mentioned the importance of a stable Taiwan Strait during his talks with Li and conveyed Tokyo’s “serious concern” about Beijing’s military expansion.

His remarks came a day after the People’s Liberation Army concluded two days of what observers described as the largest and closest military drills ever held near Taiwan. Beijing described the exercise as a “strong deterrent” against Taiwanese independence, but both Tokyo and Washington have expressed concerns.


Beijing accuses Taiwan’s William Lai of sending ‘dangerous signals’ in inauguration speech

Beijing accuses Taiwan’s William Lai of sending ‘dangerous signals’ in inauguration speech

Meeting South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol earlier in the day, Li urged Seoul to work with Beijing to “oppose turning economic and trade issues into political or security issues”, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

He also called for joint efforts to “safeguard the stability and smooth flow of the industrial chains and supply chains of the two countries and the world”.

Li and Yoon agreed to speed up the second phase of negotiations on a bilateral Free Trade Agreement.

Li said China was willing to strengthen cooperation with South Korea in areas such as high-end manufacturing, new energy, artificial intelligence and biomedicine, Xinhua reported. He also pledged to protect foreign investment, including that of South Korean companies – something he also emphasised in a separate meeting later with Samsung Group chairman Lee Jae-yong.

According to Xinhua, Yoon said South Korea would adhere to the “one-China principle”, which states that Taiwan is part of China.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said Yoon called on China to play a role in the North Korean nuclear issue and Pyongyang’s military cooperation with Moscow. It also said Beijing and Seoul had agreed to set up a mechanism for diplomatic and security dialogue, with the first meeting to be held next month.

China is South Korea’s biggest trading partner and is seen as a key force in containing nuclear-armed North Korea.

However, regional geopolitics has felt the effects as the United States steps up security cooperation with Japan and South Korea, both US treaty allies, amid its worsening rivalry with China.


US, Japan hail upgraded ties, unveil raft of bilateral deals following Biden-Kishida summit

US, Japan hail upgraded ties, unveil raft of bilateral deals following Biden-Kishida summit

Hidden risks in Beijing’s relationship with its two East Asian neighbours over Taiwan have also surfaced, as William Lai Ching-te of Taiwan’s independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party was sworn in as the island’s new leader on Monday.

Lai, whom Beijing regards as a “separatist” and “troublemaker”, has repeatedly expressed hopes for greater economic and security cooperation with Japan. Beijing has accused Lai of “ingratiating himself” with Japan, and lodged serious representations on Monday after Japanese and South Korean politicians attended his inauguration ceremony.

Beijing’s envoy to Tokyo, Wu Jianghao, accused Japan of “historical responsibility” over the Taiwan issue at a seminar on Saturday, urging that it “be careful in its words and actions” and to uphold its “serious political commitment to the one-China principle”. Wu has previously drawn protests from Tokyo for similar remarks.

Beijing sees Taiwan as part of China to be reunited by force if necessary. Most countries, including the US, Japan and South Korea, do not recognise Taiwan as an independent state. But Washington opposes any attempt to take the self-governed island by force and is committed to supplying it with weapons.


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