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International Relations

Xi and Abe to launch new dialogue on intellectual property

Revived currency swap line to be expanded 10-fold to 3tn yen

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing in 2014. Next week's summit will mark the eighth meeting between the two leaders.   © AP

TOKYO -- The leaders of China and Japan are expected to establish a new framework for talks on technological cooperation and intellectual property protections as well as revive a currency swap line when they meet next week.

These form part of a package of a broad agreement hashed out by Tokyo and Beijing ahead of the Oct. 26 meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, aimed at accelerating the two countries' recent rapprochement.

But as China hopes to secure technological collaboration with Japan, in light of more potential obstacles for it to procure from the U.S. amid a trade war, Tokyo finds itself in a difficult position of balancing relations with the two larger economies.

The first round of the talks, temporarily named the "Innovation and Intellectual Property Dialogue," will take place as early as this year. They will be positioned under the umbrella of the Japan-China High-Level Economic Dialogue. Seven working groups have been proposed, covering such topics as the digital economy, industrial exchanges and business-to-business exchanges, in addition to innovation and IP.

But how much technology the two will actually share with each other remains unclear. The dialogue seems partly meant as a symbolic gesture to highlight warming relations.

Abe and Xi are also expected to revive bilateral currency swaps. The previous arrangement expired in 2013 as relations soured over Japan's nationalization of the Senkaku Islands, which are claimed by China as the Diaoyu. The new swap line will be roughly 10 times as large at 3 trillion yen ($26.8 billion). The two sides agreed to discuss resuming currency swaps when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Japan in May.

The leaders will look to have an accord signed at an early date to facilitate cooperation on maritime search and rescue operations, as well as open a planned defense hotline.

The two countries launched in June a maritime and aerial communication mechanism to prevent accidental clashes between Japan's Self-Defense Forces and the Chinese military. Under this arrangement, Tokyo and Beijing agreed to designate wireless frequencies for vessels and aircraft to communicate on, and to set up a hotline between defense authorities. But such details as what level of the hierarchy the hotline will connect at have yet to be decided.

Xi and Abe are expected to agree to promote defense-related exchanges as well. The chief of the SDF's Joint Staff is set to visit China as soon as next year -- the first such trip since 2008. The two sides are also considering having a senior Chinese military official travel to Japan.

During his three-day visit, Abe will attend a forum on Sino-Japanese cooperation in third countries. Agreements are expected to be signed on more than 30 infrastructure-related projects.

The leaders will also discuss easing Chinese restrictions on imports of food from Japan imposed after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

This summit will be the eighth meeting between Abe and Xi but the first visit by a Japanese prime minister to China outside multilateral settings since 2011. It will come just a few days after the 40th anniversary of the treaty of peace and friendship taking effect between the two countries.

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