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China, Japan and S.Korea agree to push FTA, RCEP talks and pay joint efforts on peninsula issue

Beloit Bulletin - 30 September 2019

China, Japan and S.Korea agree to push FTA, RCEP talks and pay joint efforts on peninsula issue

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (center) speaks next to South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (left) and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono at a press conference after the ninth trilateral foreign ministers‘ meeting held in Beijing on Wednesday.

China, Japan and South Korea agreed to push forward and speed up negotiations on the free trade area (FTA) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), as the three countries‘ foreign ministers met in Beijing on Wednesday.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters after the meeting that, on the latest situation in the , the three countries also agreed to make joint efforts to safeguard the hard-fought negotiations on the peninsula issue, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday.

Wang met South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers Kang Kyung-wha and Taro Kono at Gubei Water Town near the Great Wall in Beijing on Wednesday.

“China has been doing a better job than the US in stabilizing regional tensions since US National Security Adviser John Bolton‘s visit to Japan and South Korea last month, but he made no effort to help the two solve their problems,” said Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University‘s Institute of International Relations in Beijing.

Bolton visited the two countries in July amid deteriorating ties between the US allies. Japan Times reported that Bolton told Kono that Washington does not intend to mediate in a dispute between Tokyo and Seoul over wartime labor and trade policy.

China used the trilateral meeting as an opportunity to push some agendas that fit their common interests to easily reach a trilateral agreement, and Beijing is also creating an opportunity for Tokyo and Seoul to talk, Li told the Global Times on Wednesday.

But the US, who engages in unilateralism and protectionism, cannot help Japan and South Korea, because Washington can‘t even get Tokyo and Seoul to accept its ideas, Li said.

“What China could do is not to interfere in the dispute directly. It could push agendas like FTA, RCEP and technological cooperation in 5G and AI at the trilateral meeting, which fit multilateralism and free trade. Then the three sides could have greater consensuses than disputes,” said Da Zhigang, director of the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences.

The Korean Peninsula issue is also of common concern, but Japan appears unhappy with South Korean President ‘s friendly policy on , Li noted.

Since the three countries reached an agreement on the peninsula issue, Japan and South Korea should understand that as crucial countries in the region, they should make regional security their priority. If they accept any mid-range missile deployment request from the US, the situation will immediately suffer, Li stressed.

 source: Beloit Bulletin