Breaking the Ice: China and its Neighbors Hold Historic Meetings to Improve Relations

Shinzo Abe (Japan), Park Geun-hye (Korea), and Li Keqiang (China) at the trilateral meeting

In case you missed it, China has been making efforts towards normalizing relations with historical rivals and neighbors in the last month.

China-Japan-Korea Trilateral Summit

Li Keqiang and Park Geun-hye shake hands

Shortly after the September meetings in the US with President Barack Obama, China met with other world leaders, including Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. The relationship between these neighboring countries has been tense in recent years, but it seems that they are seeking to set aside their differences and work towards bettering relations. The meeting between Chinese Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, and Korean President Park Geun-hye was held in Seoul at the beginning of November, and was the first of its kind in over 3 years. The fact that it was held at all seems to be a big step towards repairing the relationship between the three countries. The leaders were cordial in their interactions, and committed to working together on solving issues such as appropriate apologies for wartime wrongs committed by Japan, dealing with the potential nuclear threat of North Korea, discussion of a trilateral free-trade agreement, and a commitment by all parties to resume annual talks.

Cross-Strait Relations

November also saw a historic meeting between the leaders of China and Taiwan, who have not held official talks in 66 years (since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949). The goals for the meeting were moderate: neither side expressed that they want to upset the status quo. Instead, the two leaders have expressed a desire to work towards a more trusting and cooperative cross-straits relationship.

Ma Ying-jeoh and Xi Jinping

These kinds of talks are encouraging, and we hope that they will set a precedent of cooperation between China and other countries. In a time of increasing exchange between the US, China, and the rest of the world, it is of vital importance that we all learn to get along with each other, and holding meetings to promote bilateral and multilateral cooperation is a great place to start.

Sources: New York Times, The Guardian, Chinafile, Al Jazeera, South China Morning Post, NPR

Photos: New York Times, Al Jazeera