China-Japan-South Korea summit restored after 3.5-year hiatus

World Today

South Korean President Park Geun-hye, center, poses with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as they meet to hold a trilateral summit at the presidential house in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. The leaders of South Korea, China and Japan met Sunday in their first summit talks in more than three years, as the Northeast Asian powers struggle to find common ground amid bickering over history and territorial disputes. (Lee Jong-hoon/Yonhap via AP) KOREA OUT

The trilateral cooperation mechanism consisting of China, Japan and South Korea is restored on Sunday with the resumption of the leaders’ meeting after a three-and-half-year suspension due to heightened regional tensions.

CCTV talked to Stephan Haggard on this summit, the Director of the Korea-Pacific Program at the University of California, San Diego.

The sixth trilateral summit in Seoul came as relations between Japan and the two neighbors have started thawing. It also followed active coordination of South Korea, the rotating host of the sixth gathering.

“We share the view that trilateral cooperation has been completely restored on the occasion of this summit, held almost three and a half years after the fifth trilateral summit held in May 2012,” said a joint declaration issued after the meeting.

According to the document, the three countries reaffirmed their commitment to hold the trilateral meeting on a regular basis.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye attended the summit. They also jointly met with the press and attended a business summit.

The three sides had a frank exchange of views, reached many consensuses and agreed to promote their cooperation on the basis of facing up to history, looking forward to the future, and properly handling historical and other sensitive issues, Premier Li told reporters after the summit.

The China-Japan-South Korea summit had taken place annually from 2008 to 2012 before it bogged down due to Japanese provocations on historical and territorial issues that angered both China and South Korea.

The joint declaration also stressed the need to improve bilateral ties, which “constitute an important foundation for trilateral cooperation,” while acknowledging that deepening trilateral cooperation will also in turn contribute to each bilateral relations, and to peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

After the summit, Li met with Abe at the request of the Japanese side, and called for concerted efforts to maintain and strengthen the positive momentum in the rapprochement between their countries.

Citing the recent rough patch of China-Japan interaction, Li said the two countries both know the causes and should summarize the past and draw lessons from it.

They need to properly handle the sensitive issues in bilateral political relations under the spirit of looking at history squarely and taking history as a mirror, and keep a firm grasp on the overall development of their strategic relationship of mutual benefit, he said.


“Trilateral cooperation must be driven by the two wheels of politics and economics,” Li told reporters.

China, Japan and South Korea are important players in the Asian economy. Their GDP totaled 70 percent of Asia and 20 percent of the world. Trade volume among the three countries in 2013 reached 681.4 billion U.S. dollars, exceeding China’s trade volume with the European Union or the United States.

A trilateral free trade agreement (FTA) has been under negotiations since 2012. During this year’s summit, the three economies agreed to make efforts to accelerate the trilateral FTA negotiation to make it “comprehensive, high-level and mutually beneficial,” according to the joint declaration.

China will facilitate negotiations of the trilateral FTA and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in a bid to promote regional integration, Li said.

He also urged the three countries to expand trade and tap mutual investment potential, as well as carry out production capacity cooperation in the fourth-party market to achieve win-win outcomes.

“With obvious complementary to each other, the three economies have great potential in exploring production capacity cooperation,” he told reporters.

In an address at the business summit, the Chinese premier called on the three sides to implement the trilateral agreement for promotion, facilitation and protection of investment, which was signed last year to tap the potential of mutual investment among them.

“As always, we welcome enterprises from Japan and South Korea to invest and start business in China,” he said.

In the joint declaration, the three sides also agreed to expand people-to-people exchanges so as to dispel negative national public sentiment among the three Northeast Asian neighbors.

They have also agreed to enhance cooperation in science and innovation, energy, logistics, employment, food safety and intellectual property rights, it said.

The three nations also pledged to promote sustainable development. They have agreed to deepen cooperation on tackling emerging infectious diseases, air pollution and climate change.

On regional and international affairs, they agreed to join hands on various issues ranging from the Korean Peninsula to East Asia economic integration, according to the declaration.

The next China-Japan-South Korea summit is expected to be held next year in Japan.

Story compiles information from Xinhua and CCTV.