BEIJING (Kyodo) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday called on Japanese business leaders to bolster economic cooperation, as a tit-for-tat tariff trade war between China and the United States has been escalating.
"Along with Japan, we would like to protect the multilateral trade system and develop free trade," Li told a Japanese group composed of former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman of the Japan Business Federation, known as Keidanren.
Nakanishi, head of Japan's most powerful business lobby, expressed willingness to deepen economic exchanges with China, at a time when relations between the two nations have been markedly improving recently.
In September, Li also held talks with Japanese business leaders, including Nakanishi, as China has been accelerating efforts to improve ties with its neighboring countries against a backdrop of the deterioration of relations with the United States.
The Sino-Japan relationship has "returned to a normal development track," Li said. Pledging that China will promote its reform and opening-up policy further, the premier voiced hope for more investment from Japan.
The Japanese group is visiting Beijing to attend the fourth "Japan-China CEO Summit," which is scheduled to start on Thursday.
Around 60 Japanese and Chinese business persons are expected to attend the latest meeting in Beijing to discuss issues of trade, investment, infrastructure in Asia and depopulation.
The Japan-China CEO Summit was first held in Tokyo in 2015.