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East Asian neighbours need to deepen cooperation

Jin Yongming / China Daily Share:
Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi. AFP

After several ups and downs in Sino-Japanese relations over the past months, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi eventually talked with his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi on the phone on Thursday emphasising the importance of maintaining a sound bilateral relationship and regional peace and boosting economic recovery. Wang also said the two neighbours need to keep improving bilateral ties and promoting cooperation in the post-pandemic period.

The phone conversation highlights the importance of putting bilateral ties back on the track. China-Japan ties improved in the early stages of the fight against the Novel Coronavirus pandemic, but hit a roadblock after Japan joined its Western allies to accuse Beijing of violating human rights in Hong Kong after the central government introduced the national security law in the special administrative region to plug the security loopholes there and tried to rename China’s Diaoyu Islands, which the Japanese refer to as the Senkaku Islands.

Some major powers may try to exploit the differences and drive a wedge between the neighbours, reversing the momentum of improving relations. Unlike East Asian governments, which have largely contained the virus in their respective countries thanks to their comprehensive and strict prevention and control measures, the governments of the US and UK are busy playing political games.

China, Japan and the Republic of Korea have displayed traditional Asian wisdom in their respective fights against the pandemic and helped each other and therefore should play bigger roles in post-pandemic regional cooperation.

But the fact that the three countries have largely contained the epidemic at home does not mean they can lower their vigilance against the virus and ease the prevention and control measures, because the threat of a second wave of infections cannot be ruled out. It is  important for the medical experts of the three countries to exchange information on the latest developments and establish a mechanism to coordinate their policies to respond to any epidemic in the future. And their relevant experts and officials should discuss how to strike the right balance between economic recovery and measures to prevent a second wave of infections.

In addition, at a time when other parts of the world are yet to contain the outbreak, how to provide them with material assistance and share the three countries’ experiences in the fight against the pandemic remain one of the most important tasks for China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) because the world is a community with a shared future and shared health. The three countries also need to exchange information on health technologies, especially development of medicines, to boost the joint fight against the virus.

The three neighbours should strengthen cooperation in multiple fields and at multiple levels to help stabilise global economic recovery and safeguard their respective security. After all, comprehensive economic recovery and development of Asia, especially East Asia, are critical to global stability, security and economy. Therefore, the three sides should expand communication and coordination and improve mutual trust.

In particular, they should make greater efforts to resume normal production and other economic activities. And while fortifying the joint fight against the epidemic, China, Japan and the ROK should adopt measures to restore regional trade.


The author is a professor at Ocean University of China. The views don’t necessarily reflect those of China Daily


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