FRIDAY, March 01, 2024

Kishida to meet Xi in Bangkok on Thursday

Kishida to meet Xi in Bangkok on Thursday

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday at the 2022 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meeting in Bangkok, Tokyo’s top government spokesman said on Monday.

“Prime Minister Kishida is scheduled to hold a Japan-China summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the 17th, on the occasion of the Apec summit,” said Hirokazu Matsuno.

The leaders spoke on the phone in October 2021 after Kishida’s election, but this will be their first in-person meeting.

Xi last held face-to-face talks with a Japanese prime minister in December 2019, when he met Shinzo Abe in Beijing.

China and Japan marked 50 years of diplomatic relations in September but there was little celebration amid the neighbours’ frosty ties over territorial disputes and other issues.

China, as the world’s second largest economy, and Japan as the third largest are key trading partners. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, there had been plans for Xi to make a state visit to Japan.

Relations have soured since, as Beijing bolsters its military, projects power regionally and beyond and takes a harder line on territorial rivalries.

Chinese missiles fired during massive military drills around Taiwan in August are believed to have fallen within Japan’s exclusive economic zone, and Tokyo has protested what it calls growing aerial and maritime violations in recent months.

Japan also regularly complains about Chinese activity around the disputed Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islands, which Beijing claims and calls the Diaoyus.

The war in Ukraine has only deepened the divide, with Japan backing democratic allies opposed to Russia’s invasion, while Beijing avoids criticising Moscow.

The conflict has refocused attention on whether China might try to forcibly reunite Taiwan with the mainland, prompting Kishida to warn that the invasion of Ukraine “could be East Asia tomorrow”. AFP

A series of 2022 Apec meetings will be held in Bangkok’s Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre from November 16-19.