Japan and China driven closer by trade tensions with US

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Jin Jianmin, a senior fellow at Fujitsu Research Institute in Tokyo, said that with China's fast economic development, the respective advantages of the industries and technologies of the two countries become clearer, and the foundation of win-win cooperation become more solid.

"Switching from competition to collaboration, I want to lift Japan-China relations to a new era", the Japanese leader said, according to a translation by Kyodo News.

China and Japan on Friday are set to forge stronger ties as both countries stood together at the signing a broad range of agreements including a $30 billion currency swap pact, amid rising trade tensions with Washington.

Later in the day, Abe and Li attended an economic forum where companies from both countries signed agreements to push forward with about 50 projects, including development of an energy efficient smart city in Thailand and an offshore wind power project in Germany, Kyodo reported.

While Abe is attempting to focus attention at home on his diplomatic achievements in the summit to buoy his administration, China is attempting to get Japan on-side as Beijing contends with a trade war with the United States.

It's taken almost seven years, but a Japanese leader is finally returning to China on an official visit for bilateral talks.

However, for now at least, the sides appear to have drawn closer by economic necessity brought about partly by United States president Donald Trump's punitive tariffs on imports.

Trump has also raised tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from Japan and other countries, and is threatening tariffs on Japanese autos and auto parts.

Indeed Mr Abe's visit shows the relationship is on the mend after territorial disputes and a disastrous falling out in 2012 over islands in the East China Sea. The group of uninhabited islets, which are called Diaoyu in China, are controlled by Japan but claimed by Beijing.

Some other users urged caution during Mr Abe's visit, accusing an "ambitious" Japan of being a two-faced neighbour.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship.

In short, the Trump administration's eschewing of the American-built liberal world order for a realpolitik, transactional approach to foreign policy has inadvertently provided the foundation for Japan and China to move historical grievances to the wayside and return to their post-normalization dynamic of "hot economics/cold politics" known as Seikei Bunri/ 政経分離 in Japanese.

Since an awkward 2014 encounter between Abe and Xi on the sidelines of a summit, there have been ministerial visits by both sides and a softening of rhetoric. "Japan today is one of the most trusted partners in India's economic and technological modernisations and one of the top investors in India", he said. Abe made the remark while keeping in mind Chinese vessels' intrusions into Japan's territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands.

Looking to hedge against the U.S. leader, Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to discuss how to improve economic cooperation between the world's second and third largest economies when they meet on Friday. When asked whether that included China's crackdown on rights lawyers or its arbitrary detention of perhaps as many as one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in western Xinjiang, Abe's spokesman Osuga declined to comment.

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