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Sunday, July 21, 2024

China, Japan, and South Korea are set to meet

The forthcoming meeting of foreign ministers holds substantial importance in the diplomatic landscape of Northeast Asia.

China, Japan, and South Korea are set to meet

Foreign ministers from South Korea, China, and Japan are preparing to meet in Busan, South Korea, marking a significant effort to resurrect their leaders’ summit, which has been dormant for the past four years. Initially established in 2008 to foster regional cooperation, this summit has faced numerous challenges, including bilateral disputes and the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in the postponement of their last meeting in 2019.

The forthcoming meeting of foreign ministers holds substantial importance in the diplomatic landscape of Northeast Asia. In September, senior diplomats from the three nations agreed to arrange a leaders’ meeting at the earliest convenience. The South Korean foreign ministry has set an ambitious agenda for the discussions, emphasizing the exchange of extensive views on the development of trilateral cooperation, preparations for a ninth trilateral summit, and addressing regional and global issues. In addition to these talks, ministers will engage in bilateral meetings alongside the primary discussions.

This diplomatic gathering takes place against the backdrop of evolving regional geopolitics. South Korea and Japan have witnessed improved relations and have deepened their security cooperation with the United States. This shift is partly in response to growing concerns over China’s expanding influence in the Asia-Pacific region. However, Beijing has expressed reservations about U.S. efforts to strengthen ties with South Korea and Japan, fearing that such actions could escalate tensions and confrontations.

The primary goal of the foreign ministers is to lay the groundwork for their leaders’ summit and engage in comprehensive discussions regarding trilateral cooperation. They will also address a wide range of regional and global challenges. Bilateral meetings held alongside the main discussions will provide an additional avenue for dialogue.

Complex past

Both South Korea and Japan are key allies of the United States in the region, hosting around 80,000 American troops combined on their territories. Their recent efforts to bolster their trilateral security partnership with Washington have raised concerns in Beijing, which is sensitive to actions it perceives as containment measures against China. This evolving strategic landscape adds complexity to diplomatic interactions.

Recent events, such as North Korea’s launch of its first military spy satellite into space, have demonstrated a unified stance among Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington. They jointly condemned the launch, citing concerns about North Korea’s advancements in missile technology and space-based surveillance. In contrast, China, North Korea’s primary ally, called for restraint and calm, echoing similar statements made during previous North Korean weapons tests.

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Japan and China have long-standing disputes related to Japanese WWII atrocities and territorial claims in the East China Sea. Recently, these two nations became embroiled in a trade dispute when China banned seafood imports from Japan in protest of its discharge of treated radioactive wastewater from a tsunami-damaged nuclear power plant. These bilateral issues contribute to the complex regional dynamics and the delicate balance of power in Northeast Asia.