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International relations

Abe to meet Xi Oct. 26, marking 1st Japanese PM visit in 7 years

Beijing hopes to 'deepen trade cooperation,' as Washington watches on

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 Summit in Hangzhou in September 2016.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Oct. 26 in Beijing, the countries announced Friday, marking the 40th year of their Treaty of Peace and Friendship.

This will be the first trip by a sitting Japanese prime minister to China, apart from multinational summits, since Nobuhiko Noda's in 2011.

"We attach importance to China-Japan relations," Lu Kang, the spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said at Friday's press briefing. "China and Japan are two major economies in the world. When we deepen economic and trade cooperation, not only the interests of the two sides but also the development of global economy and trade stand to benefit."

Taking a swipe at the U.S., Kang said China hopes the two sides "uphold multilateralism and free trading system, and safeguard an open world economy."

During the three-day trip starting Oct. 25, Abe will also meet other Chinese leaders like Premier Li Keqiang. "We hope for an open and direct discussion, not only about Japan-China relations, but also of larger regional and international topics, including North Korea," Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference.

Abe will also attend the Japan-China Forum on Third Country Business Cooperation, along with about 1,000 business executives and economic leaders from both countries. More than 30 deals are expected to be signed at the forum, which could include a rail construction project in Thailand and logistical cooperation on a rail link between China and Europe.

Washington will be watching closely over how China and Japan discuss ways of deepening trade relations. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has hinted that the U.S. may seek to replicate in its trade talks with Japan a "poison pill" provision included in the recently completed pact with Canada and Mexico. 

Under the provision, if any of the three countries in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement enters a trade deal with a "nonmarket country," the other two are free to quit in six months and form their own bilateral trade deal. The clause is widely seen as preventing new trade deals with China.

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