A turning point for NE Asia cooperation

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-11-2 0:08:03

The China-Japan-South Korea leaders' meeting was held on Sunday in Seoul, a resumption of the trilateral summit after over three years' suspension. It may become a turning point in the political climate of Northeast Asia. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at Japan's request, both with proactive gestures.

Yang Bojiang, a Japan expert, said the summit indicates that the three countries have practically got out of the situation where regional relations were dominated by negative topics. The topics under discussion are turning away from territorial disputes and historical issues to cooperation issues.

The three parties released a joint statement on peace and cooperation in Northeast Asia, a weighty outcome. The document noted that in Northeast Asia, countries are economically interdependent but faced with conflicts in political and security fields, and this must be dealt with. To realize the goal poses long-term challenges to the region. When meeting with Abe, Li stressed that history concerns the political foundation of the Sino-Japanese relationship. Actually, the issue is also one of the key points of Seoul-Tokyo ties. Next year, Japan will host the China-Japan-South Korea trilateral summit, now designated a regular event. However, for the smooth promotion of Northeast Asian cooperation, it is an indispensible condition that Japan must not regress on the history issue.

Northeast Asian cooperation has always had influence from the US. It is an ally of Japan and South Korea and in particular plays a critical and latent role in Japan's foreign relations. But Washington is definitely not a decisive role in regional relations. China's relations with South Korea are most stable and promising while the South Korea-Japan relationship is as bumpy as that of China and Japan. In this sense, Washington's clout has to be faced squarely, but not exaggerated.

Though a time bomb for Northeast Asia, the North Korean nuclear issue is not a major obstacle to China-Japan-South Korea cooperation. It is in the interests of all sides, including Pyongyang, to manage the issue under the precondition of promoting denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The China-Japan-South Korea trilateral summit was initiated in 2008, a time when Japan was the No.1 economy in Asia, followed by China. After the mechanism resumed, China consolidated its position as Asia's No.1 economy, which enables it to be the guiding factor of Northeast Asia's internal economic structure.

Japan was once an active promoter of a China-Japan-South Korea free trade zone. Today, Beijing and Seoul have signed a free trade deal while Tokyo's attitude has subtly changed.

Japan has been depressed by being secondary to China and hence become self-indulgent in its relations with China and South Korea. Without any hope and ambition, it dares to play tough. With the resumption of the summit, Chinese people need to have a new understanding of Japan and ourselves.

Posted in: Editorial

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