Tags: Xi | Abe | G-20

Xi, Abe Said to Plan Talks at G-20 Amid Spike in Tensions

Image: Xi, Abe Said to Plan Talks at G-20 Amid Spike in Tensions

Chinese President Xi Jinping (AP Images)

Sunday, 04 Sep 2016 06:04 PM

The leaders of China and Japan plan to meet on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hangzhou on Monday, at a time of tensions over territory in the East China Sea.

President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will have a sit-down in the evening -- not just a handshake -- according to an official familiar with the plan, who asked not to be identified, citing government policy. Asia’s two largest economies have long bickered over territory and Japan’s wartime history, but things have taken a turn for the worse in recent months, even as trade and tourism have held up.

Beijing has taken more assertive measures by sending greater numbers of vessels near uninhabited Japanese-administered islets in the East China Sea, triggering a flurry of protests from Tokyo.

"It’s a good opportunity for both nations as they face economic downturn pressure domestically," said Liu Jiangyong, director of international relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing, referring to a Xi-Abe meeting. "An improved relationship is needed by both China and Japan."

The two leaders will join other heads of G-20 nations at a summit starting later Sunday. Their sideline meeting would be the first since a brief chat during the Asian African Conference in Jakarta in April last year.

Sea Ruling

Ahead of that, Abe and Xi shook hands as Xi greeted the G-20 leaders at the start of the summit on Sunday. Xi gave a brief smile while a more relaxed-looking Abe flashed a grin and appeared to laugh a little. During a leaders’ photograph, Abe stood in the middle row, to the back and several places to the left of Xi.

The first time Abe and Xi met formally, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in
Beijing in late 2014, it proved a brief and awkward affair. The nations broke their two-and-a-half year deadlock at the time with an uneasy handshake.

Sino-Japanese ties hit a particularly icy patch in 2012 when Japan nationalized three of the East China Sea islands, and China announced an air defense identification zone over the waters in late 2013. Tensions were also sparked by an arbitration court ruling in July that invalidated most of China’s claims in the South China Sea.

While Japan is not a claimant in the South China Sea, it has supported some Southeast Asian nations and urged all parties to abide by the ruling. China has accused Japan of interfering.

The latest tensions haven’t dented Chinese tourism to Japan -- the 731,400 visitors in July marked a monthly record -- or impacted trade. But they further complicate ties just as their economies face headwinds, as well as adding to the risk of a physical clash.

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The leaders of China and Japan plan to meet on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hangzhou on Monday, at a time of tensions over territory in the East China Sea.President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will have a sit-down in the evening -- not just a handshake...
Xi, Abe, G-20
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2016-04-04
Sunday, 04 Sep 2016 06:04 PM
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