Thanks to Donald Trump, China-Japan Relations at its Peak

Are China-Japan Relations returning back to normal? Analysts are predicting the world’s biggest regional free-trade deal between China and Japan as the US trade war and a melting bond between China and Japan are pitching high hopes of reaching a broad agreement. EurAsian Times relooks at SCMP article 

Singaporean Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing stated that trade negotiators from 16 likely signatories of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) backed by China, agreed on key elements of the deal at a meeting in Singapore last week. A broad agreement was likely when leaders of the countries met in November.

“We are looking for that broad agreement, that milestone to be achieved, or what we call substantial conclusion when the leaders meet at the end of the year,” said Chan on Saturday.

The pact of 16 nations, including 10 ASEAN members as well as China, Japan, Australia, India, New Zealand and South Korea, would cover about half the world’s population and a third of its GDP.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was quoted by media saying Japan’s relationship with China had returned to a “normal track”. The statement gave rise to the expectations of an agreement on Sunday.

“Premier Li Keqiang visited Japan in May and the Japan-China relationship has completely returned to a normal track,” Abe told the Sankei newspaper.

Huo Jianguo, a former director of a research institute under China’s Ministry of Commerce, said China urgently needed a breakthrough in the RCEP as it looked to the region for economic opportunities to help it endure its tit-for-tat trade war with Washington.

“China has to take the initiative in the forming a new international trade order,” Huo said. “The RCEP negotiations have dragged on for too long and China can’t afford another year of delay,” he added.

Negotiations have fallen over just how much each country should be prepared to open up its markets to outside goods, services and investment. Some countries like Japan are demanding a high level of opening up but others like India are resistant.

But Huo said interim arrangements could allow for gradual opening and the priority now was to reach a deal. According to the analyst, any progress on a deal would depend on cooperation between China and Japan, the world’s second- and third-biggest economies.

“Japan used to be passive but now it has become much more proactive about the RCEP,” said Jiang Ruiping, a Japanese studies expert at China Foreign Affairs University.

Jiang said the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the completion of the Japan-European Union trade agreement and Japan’s own need for a regional free trade accord had pushed Tokyo to shift its attention to the China-backed plan. Japan is a member of the TPP, a US-led trade pact that Washington withdrew from in 2017.

Meanwhile, China-Japan relationship seems to be booming, with Tokyo keen to work with China on Beijing’s agenda. “One area the better China-Japan relationship can work together in is regional trade cooperation,” Jiang said.

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