South Korea hosts Japan, China as US allies try to reassure Beijing

SEOUL, Sept 26 (Reuters) – South Korea hosted senior diplomats from China and Japan for a uncommon trilateral assembly on Tuesday seen as aimed toward assuaging Beijing’s considerations over the 2 U.S. allies’ tightening cooperation between themselves and Washington.

The assembly goals partially to set the stage for the resumption of three-way summits among the many nations’ leaders, which had been final held in 2019. Those talks had been suspended amid authorized, diplomatic and commerce disputes between Seoul and Tokyo over points courting to Japan’s 1910-1945 occupation of Korea.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida have since taken steps to mend ties and in August held a historic trilateral summit with U.S. President Joe Biden, the place the three vowed to enhance cooperation, together with on defence and financial safety.

A senior South Korean authorities official stated China has been proactive in looking for trilateral cooperation and arranging conferences since relations soured between Seoul and Beijing in 2017 over the deployment of a U.S. THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea.

“I’m sure there should be some discomfort on their side regarding our increasingly close trilateral security partnerships with the United States and Japan,” the official stated, talking on situation of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the state of affairs. “There seems to be a view there that they need to properly manage bilateral ties with us, as they saw how their THAAD responses backfired and fuelled anti-China sentiment to serious levels.”

Beijing will most probably look to leverage trilateral commerce ties to counterbalance the U.S. friend-shoring technique, promote people-to-people exchanges, and improve communication and dialogue with Seoul and Tokyo on safety and defence issues, stated Tong Zhao, senior fellow on the U.S.-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Japan and South Korea have an curiosity in avoiding conflicts and sustaining a secure safety relationship with China, and Beijing’s help in slowing down, if not halting, North Korea’s intensive nuclear improvement program, he added.

“These shared interests open up new avenues for strategic communication, confidence-building, and measures to prevent crises,” Zhao stated.

The trilateral summits have historically concerned China’s premier, however South Korea can also be pushing for a separate go to by President Xi Jinping.

South Korea is that this yr’s host for three-way conferences and proposed a trilateral summit in December throughout the talks on Tuesday, Japanese broadcaster TBS reported.

The newest assembly concerned South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Chung Byung-won, Japanese Senior Deputy Foreign Minister Takehiro Funakoshi, and Nong Rong, China’s assistant minister of international affairs.

Chinese international ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin advised a briefing on Monday that China, Japan and South Korea are shut neighbours and vital cooperative companions, and strengthening trilateral cooperation serves their frequent pursuits.

Reporting by Josh Smith and Hyonhee Shin in Seoul; Additional reporting by Liz Lee in Beijing; Writing by Josh Smith; Editing by Gerry Doyle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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