China tells Japan to reaffirm strategic relations in rare leader talks

Chinese President Xi Jinping told Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday that Asia’s two largest economies should reaffirm their strategic relationship in their first face-to-face talks in a year that look to put a floor under strained ties.

The remarks came at the start of talks on the sidelines of the APEC summit in San Francisco.

The two leaders are also expected to discuss the creation of a new dialogue framework on export control issues and fostering a safe business environment.

The countries should “focus on common interests and properly handle differences,” Xi told Kishida as they sat across from one another at a table flanked by their delegations.

China and Japan should reaffirm their “strategic relationship of mutual benefit and give it new meaning”, he added.

Meanwhile, Kishida stated that Japan and China “coexist and prosper as neighbors who share a long history and eternal future, and have a responsibility to contribute to world peace and prosperity as the leading powers in the region and the international community.”

In a joint statement in 2008, Japan and China agreed to pursue a “mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests” designed to ensure frequent leadership exchanges on issues such as security. But the phrasing has been used less frequently in recent years as the historic rivals have clashed over a series of issues such as territorial disputes, trade tensions and Taiwan, the democratic island near Japan that Beijing claims as its own.