Cooperation can boost regional growth

2019-08-21 10:29:25 China Daily Mo Hong'e


Editor's note: Will the meeting on Wednesday among the foreign ministers of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea in Beijing, boost regional cooperation and development, especially after almost a decade's talks to promote trilateral cooperation have failed to yield the expected results due to one reason or another, the latest being the tit-for-tat trade spat between Tokyo and Seoul? Two experts share their views on the issue with China Daily's Pan Yixuan. Excerpts follow:

How to settle Japan-ROK disputes

China, Japan and the ROK all value cooperation and regional development, but they have not been able to establish a trilateral cooperation mechanism, mainly due to historical and/or security disputes.

The on-going ROK-Japan trade spat was sparked by a recent Seoul court ruling ordering some Japanese enterprises to pay damages and apologize for using forced labor during the Japanese occupation of Korea. Incidentally, Japan says the compensation was settled when the 1965 Japan-ROK treaty was signed.

Compensation for people in Korea who were forced to work for the occupying Japanese forces before and during World War II has long been a contentious issue between Tokyo and Seoul. But this time, both sides have taken tough stances and indulged in a series of tit-for-tat trade retaliations. And trade frictions due to historical disputes have a greater potential to harm both sides.

The current spat between the two sides is hard to resolve because the Japanese government sees no reason to compromise on a "closed deal", and the ROK government has been under great public pressure to act tough against Japan, as evident in the rising anti-Japan sentiments in the ROK. Besides, Japan didn't seem interested in buying ROK President Moon Jae-in's toned-down speech on Aug 15, saying Seoul would hold talks and cooperate with Tokyo if the latter took positive actions.

With Japan refusing to hold talks with the ROK, it is worth making China a third party to facilitate a trilateral meeting. But with only China and the ROK looking to ease Japan-ROK tensions, and Japan being disinterested, the three sides can hardly reach any agreement on how to promote trilateral cooperation. Moreover, even the United States seems uninterested in mediating between Japan and the ROK, its two most important allies in Asia.

But China, Japan and the ROK have many mutual interests including the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. As such, they have to strive to reach a consensus on the Japan-ROK disputes and other issues, and should try to stabilize bilateral as well as trilateral ties as a precondition for any further cooperation.

Jin Qiangyi, a researcher at the center for ROK and DPRK studies, Yanbian University

Three sides should work together to reach a deal

Since Japan-ROK relations are severely strained, their foreign ministers should be applauded for agreeing to attend the trilateral meeting in Beijing. In fact, their decisions signify progress.

The meeting, being held after three years, can make great contributions to the regional economy and the three countries' development in light of the China-US trade war, the Japan-ROK trade row and the Korean Peninsula denuclearization process that the US and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea began more than a year ago.

As neighbors and close trading partners, China, Japan and the ROK need to promote bilateral and trilateral political and diplomatic relations, in order to boost regional development by coordinating their trade policies. And easing bilateral tensions will help them better promote trilateral cooperation.

The on-going trilateral meeting shows the three countries' willingness to work together to resolve regional and bilateral issues, which would lay the foundation for further negotiations which in turn could help them make more achievements in areas such as Northeast Asia development and the China-Japan-ROK Free Trade Agreement that is being discussed since 2002.

It is also important that the three countries seek the greatest common factor and try to lower the sensitiveness of vital issues through bilateral negotiations and cooperation.

Besides, a trilateral consensus on Northeast Asia's peace process may help them to keep bilateral problems under control, and encourage them to see beyond the bilateral disputes and strengthen coordination and boost development for not only the three countries but also the entire region and beyond.

Yue Li, executive director of the Center for Northeast Asian Studies and senior fellow at the Pangoal Institution, a public policy think tank

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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