The upcoming China-Japan-ROK leaders meeting to be held in China next week will chart the course for future cooperation and nurture more cooperation highlights and growth areas, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui said Thursday.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will chair the 8th China-Japan-ROK leaders’ meeting in China’s southwestern city of Chengdu on December 24. President of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will attend the meeting, and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet Moon and Abe respectively in Beijing, according to LeaLuo.

Leaders Meeting

Leaders of the three countries will step up strategic communication and jointly chart the course for future cooperation. The vision of trilateral cooperation for the next decade will be issued at the meeting, Luo said at a press briefing.

The meeting will also discuss how to deepen practical cooperation and expand common interests. “Leaders of the three countries will talk about new cooperation initiatives and ideas on such areas as science and technology, innovation, sustainable development, aging, people-to-people exchanges, and ‘China-Japan-ROK+X’, so as to nurture more cooperation highlights and growth areas and deepen trilateral cooperation,” Luo said.

China, Japan and the ROK now face an important opportunity of speeding up free trade negotiations, as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a mega trade pact, has made positive progress, Luo said.

The three countries have signed a trilateral investment agreement and held 16 rounds of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations so far. “They will work jointly for trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation at a higher level and standard,” Luo said.

The three leaders will also exchange opinions and strengthen coordination on international and regional issues of common concern, including the Korean Peninsula situation, and play a positive role in realising peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, according to Luo.

Trilateral Cooperation

This year marks the 20th anniversary of China-Japan-ROK cooperation. “In addition to the formal leaders’ meeting, the three leaders will attend the China-Japan-ROK business summit, jointly meet the press, and celebrate the 20th anniversary of trilateral cooperation,” Luo said.

Trilateral cooperation has yielded fruitful outcomes over the past 20 years, and an all-dimensional cooperation system with the leaders’ meeting as the core and 21 ministerial-level meetings as the pillar has been established, with cooperation being carried out in over 30 fields.

“A trend for future cooperation is ‘China-Japan-ROK+X’, that is to say, the three countries will strengthen cooperation in the fourth and fifth markets. For example, they will make use of their respective advantages and resources to promote connectivity on the Belt and Road,” said Jiang Ruiping, former Vice President of China Foreign Affairs University.

Japan and the ROK give priority to foreign trade and investment and have notable strengths in information, big data and other high tech sectors. Meanwhile, China has a huge market and latecomer advantage in 5G and the internet.

“China is willing to share the market and development opportunities with Japan and the ROK,” Luo said.

In terms of differences and disputes, Luo said it is natural that three countries may have disputes over history and territorial waters. What is important is that all the three countries should properly manage these differences, make the pie of cooperation bigger, and guard against the interference of external factors.

“The three countries have already reached consensus on that,” he said.

China, Japan and the ROK account for 24 percent of the world economy. Trilateral trade exceeded 720 billion U.S. dollars last year, and over 31 million visits were recorded.

Against the background of downward pressure of the world economy and rising trade protectionism and unilateralism, China, Japan and the ROK, as important Asian countries and three major economies in East Asia, shoulder important responsibilities in safeguarding regional peace and stability and promoting world development and prosperity, said Li Chenggang, Assistant Minister of Commerce.

“The 8th China-Japan-ROK leaders’ meeting will further enhance the three countries’ political mutual trust, lift the level of economic and trade cooperation, and promote all-round development of mutually beneficial cooperation, injecting impetus to economic growth and sustainable development of East Asia and the world,” Li said.