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China Pushes for Economic Cooperation at East Asian Summit

China has agreed to regional cooperation with South Korea and Japan, but has raised concerns over ties with the US.

China’s Premier Li Qiang on Monday signaled a restart of cooperation with South Korea and Japan amidst shared regional challenges.

However, the Premier also expressed veiled disapproval of the growing security ties between these two nations and the United States.

South Korean President, Yoon Suk Yeol, Chinese Premier, Li Qiang, Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida participated in the significant step towards regional cooperation. Leaders from China, South Korea and Japan held their first trilateral summit in Seoul in over four years.

Following a trilateral summit in Seoul, China’s Premier Li Qiang expressed a desire for closer economic ties with South Korea and Japan.

During a joint press conference, Chinese Premier Li emphasised collaboration on supply chains and the revival of negotiations for a free trade agreement between the three nations. This summit marks a significant step towards regional economic cooperation after a four-year hiatus.

“We need to have honest dialogues to better enhance trust and resolve doubts. We must uphold the spirit of strategic autonomy and maintain our bilateral relations,” Li said in comments at the start of the meeting with Yoon and Kishida.

“We need to promote multipolarity in the world and oppose the formation of blocs or camps,”Li added.

Li further said “China, Japan and South Korea should appropriately handle sensitive issues and points of difference, and take care of each other’s core interests and major concerns,” Li said, “and truly construct a real multilateralism.”

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said the leaders from China, South Korea, and Japan reportedly pledged to promote people-to-people and cultural exchanges, establish safe supply chain networks and work together to tackle shared environmental, health and other issues.

Japanese Prime Minister, Kishida, also said the three countries share a big responsibility for regional peace and that Japan will chair the next round of the trilateral leaders’ meeting.

While the first East Asian summit in four years projected a sense of renewed cooperation, underlying tensions emerged. 

The Chinese Premier Li Qiang reportedly voiced China’s concerns regarding the strengthened security partnership between Japan, South Korea, and the United States. Beijing views this development as a potential effort to contain China’s influence in the region.

A planned satellite launch by North Korea briefly overshadowed the positive momentum of the first trilateral summit between China, South Korea, and Japan in four years.

North Korea notified Japan of its intention to launch a satellite by early next week, raising concerns it may be another test of its long-range missile technology.

The United Nations prohibits North Korea from such launches, considering them a veiled attempt to advance their ballistic missile program.

North Korea, however, justifies these launches as necessary to enhance its surveillance capabilities of South Korea and the U.S., while also improving the accuracy of its missiles.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol took a strong stance on North Korea’s potential satellite launch, calling for a firm international response. 

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida echoed these concerns, urging North Korea to abandon the launch altogether. 

However, Chinese Premier Li Qiang did not directly address the launch plans, focusing instead on broader calls for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula achieved through political means.

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