In 2018, China and Japan marked the 40th anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship. High-level exchanges took place in the year.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Japan in May, the first visit to Japan by a Chinese premier since Wen Jiabao went there in 2010. Premier Li called on China and Japan to stick to the principles of the four-point consensus reached between the two countries back in 2014. He also said that ties between China and Japan were at a crucial stage for improvement.

During the visit, the two sides agreed to set up a security hotline to defuse maritime incidents that may raise tension. As a symbol of friendship, China donated a pair of endangered crested ibises to Japan, the first such transfer in 11 years.

In October 2018, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited China. He met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and held talks with Premier Li Keqiang.

During the meeting, Xi said bilateral relations between China and Japan have returned to the right track, which should be cherished by the two sides. Xi also called for pragmatic cooperation at a higher level, saying that China’s door will open even wider. He made the specific mention of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has offered a new platform for deepening cooperation.

Agreeing with Xi’s proposals, Abe said he hoped his visit would usher in a new era that shifts from competition to coordination. Among all, the BRI is a potential path to that, Abe said.

During Abe’s stay, the two countries signed hundreds of deals including a massive currency swap agreement, the establishment of a maritime and air liaison mechanism, and enhanced people-to-people exchanges.