China FM: China and Japan should oppose trade protectionism


Wang Yi, Chinese state councilor and foreign minister, speaks during a high-level Japan-China economic dialogue in Tokyo, April 16, 2018 (Photo‍: Reuters)

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday that China and Japan should jointly oppose protectionism, safeguard the multilateral trading system and promote an open world economy, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Wang, who is also a state councilor, made the remarks in Tokyo during a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono at the fourth high-level economic dialogue between the two countries. 

"After reopening these talks, we’re both standing at new starting points to discuss future cooperation that will, I hope, lead to fresh economic growth for both nations,” Wang said at the start of the forum which the ministers co-chaired.

The China-Japan High-level Economic Dialogue was established in 2006. It was first held in 2007 in Beijing and again in Tokyo in 2009. It was suspended after the third round of talks in 2010.

Wang said China and Japan should jointly advance the process of economic integration in East Asia, accelerate negotiations on free trade zones among China, Japan and South Korea as well as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and move forward toward the goal of establishing the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific at an early date.

"This year marks the 40th anniversary of the reform and opening-up policy, and China will embark on a new journey of reform and opening up in the new era," he said. "We will pursue higher quality development, continue to open wider to the world, continue to improve the business environment, and accelerate the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative."  

Wang added that China and Japan should promote the Belt and Road Initiative to yield results and make it a new highlight of bilateral cooperation.

During talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang last November, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suggested the two countries should enhance economic dialogue and explore opportunities in interconnectivity projects within the framework of the Belt and Road.

Sino-Japanese economic and trade cooperation is facing new historic opportunities, Wang said, and both sides should cherish the hard-won momentum of improvement in relations, safeguard their political foundation, adhere to mutual benefits and common development and commit to the upgrading of economic cooperation.

Wang said that bilateral cooperation will focus on areas including energy conservation and environmental protection, technological innovation, high-end manufacturing, finance, sharing economy, and medical care and pensions.

Kono, for his part, said that on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Japan-China Peace and Friendship Treaty, Japan-China relations are facing opportunities for comprehensive improvement and stable development. 

"Facing the new changes in the economic situation of the two countries and the world, Japan is willing to work with China to plan and expand bilateral economic and trade cooperation," he told reporters.

"Japan attaches great importance to the key message sent by President Xi Jinping at the opening ceremony of this year's Boao Forum. In the face of rising protectionism, we should maintain the free trade system with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core and handle trade issues in accordance with WTO rules. 

"It is quite possible that Japan cooperates with China on various projects on a case-by-case basis where international standards are met.”