Tue. Mar 2nd, 2021



TOKYO (AP) – Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived in Japan on Tuesday to meet with his Japanese counterpart and discuss ways to revive their pandemic-hit economies as well as regional concerns over China’s growing influence.

During his two-day visit, Wang and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi are to discuss resuming business trips between the world’s No. 2 and No. 3 economies through a “business track” program that would allow visitors to engage in limited business activity during 14-day quarantine periods. Japan recently launched such arrangements with a few less-infected Asian countries.

Wang’s visit comes as Japan is grappling with resurgence of coronavirus infections and the government struggles to balance disease prevention and the economy.

Chinese visitors topped the number of tourists in Japan before the pandemic.

Wang is expected to meet with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga during his Tokyo visit, the first with a Japanese prime minister by a top Chinese official since the February visit of Chinese foreign policy chief Yang Jiechi.

Japan and China are not currently considering rescheduling Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Japan, postponed from the spring due to the pandemic.

Relations between the two countries have been strained over territorial disputes and wartime history. But ties have improved in recent years while China’s trade dispute with the U.S. has escalated. Japan, a key U.S. ally, sees China as a crucial trading partner and faces the challenge of balancing its relations with both nations.

The visit also comes amid growing concerns about China’s increasing influence in the region.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison held talks last week with Suga and agreed to step up their military partnership to promote peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region as a counter to China’s rise.

Japan and Australia, along with the U.S. and India, are also trying to bring in Southeast Asian nations and others to join their cooperation. Beijing has criticized the moves.

After his visit to Japan, Wang will head for meetings in South Korea.

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Follow Mari Yamaguchi on twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

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