Cooperation with Japan via B&R initiative can herald new era of Asian integration

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2018/6/10 22:53:40

Japan's government has changed its attitude to encourage Chinese and Japanese private enterprises to pursue cooperation in infrastructure projects in third markets, media reports said over the weekend.

As Japan extends an olive branch to China in an attempt to avoid cutthroat competition for infrastructure deals, the two countries should seize this opportunity to build closer ties as well as solve deep-seated problems through private-sector economic cooperation.

Relations between Tokyo and Beijing have been at a low point since 2012, partly due to the territorial dispute over the Diaoyu Islands, but the two countries broke the deadlock in 2017 as Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Hamburg, Germany. As bilateral relations warm up, some Chinese scholars have begun to rethink China's stance toward Japan. Many people agreed that China needs to view Japan as a strategic cooperative partner, instead of an enemy, although historical issues cast a shadow over bilateral ties.

China and Japan should seize the chance to normalize relations and build closer ties. The first step is to push forward economic cooperation among private companies, and infrastructure is a good starting point to strengthen international cooperation.

Competition between China and Japan for infrastructure projects in Asia has heated up significantly in recent years. Blindly pursuing these deals has exposed some companies and financial institutions to high risks as a new price war looms in the Asian market. It is time for the two countries to change the situation.

Earlier this year, China and Japan reportedly reached a consensus on establishing a public-private communication platform to discuss joint projects in third markets related to China's Belt and Road (B&R) initiative. If trial projects go well, bilateral ties may move to a new stage. Cooperation will become the main subject of Sino-Japan relations.

China and Japan are among the world's leading economic powers. In today's Asia, the direction of economic integration depends on whether China and Japan can strengthen cooperation. Tripartite cooperation in which China and Japan step up infrastructure investment in third-party markets under the B&R initiative is likely to create a new round of economic integration in Asia.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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