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China urges resumption of FTA talks with Japan, ROK, eyeing benefit to 'Asia-Pacific and beyond'


 , Updated 23:08, 27-May-2024

At the 2024 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition in April, South Korean technology company Samsung Electronics promised that it would continue expanding in the Chinese market.

The mobile giant invested $24 billion and has purchased products worth more than $16.5 billion from over 3,000 upstream suppliers in China from 2018 to 2022, according to Geol Yang, president of Samsung Electronics China.

"We have deeply integrated into the Chinese market and are optimistic about the potential of China's economic growth," Geol said, adding he felt China's firm determination to expand opening-up and attract foreign investment.

When meeting with the company's chairman, Lee Jae-yong in Seoul on Sunday, Chinese Premier Li Qiang said that Samsung's cooperation with China is "a vivid epitome of mutual benefit cooperation and development between China and the Republic of Korea (ROK)."

Li's talks with Samsung's chief came before Monday's ninth trilateral summit meeting of China, Japan and the ROK, which is believed to be an effective gathering to strengthen trilateral cooperation after the mechanism witnessed a hiatus of about four and a half years.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang addresses the ninth trilateral summit meeting of China, Japan and the ROK in Seoul, ROK, May 26, 2024. /Xinhua
Chinese Premier Li Qiang addresses the ninth trilateral summit meeting of China, Japan and the ROK in Seoul, ROK, May 26, 2024. /Xinhua

Chinese Premier Li Qiang addresses the ninth trilateral summit meeting of China, Japan and the ROK in Seoul, ROK, May 26, 2024. /Xinhua

Resuming FTA negotiations, benefiting 'Asia-Pacific and beyond'

During the summit meeting, Li put forward a five-point proposal on deepening China-Japan-ROK cooperation, highlighted by resuming and completing the negotiations of trilateral free trade agreement as soon as possible and maintaining the stability and smoothness of the industrial and supply chain.

Calling the meeting "just in time," Lv Chao, director of the Institute of American and East Asian Studies at Liaoning University, said that in recent years, China-Japan-ROK cooperation had experienced slumps, and they gradually realized that "cold" relations are of no good to anyone.

This was especially the case in the economic field, Lv Chao said, stressing that for Japan and the ROK, "losing China is the same as giving up an unimaginably huge market."

China is Japan's and the ROK's largest trading partner, being their largest export market and source of imports. China's trade volume with Japan reached $317.998 billion last year, and its trade with the ROK amounted to $310.737 billion in 2023.

The three East Asian countries are also important global economies. Their combined GDP is roughly 25 percent of the world's total and their bilateral trade takes up about 20 percent of the global trade volume, according to Lee Hee-sup, secretary-general of the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat.

The exchanges and cooperation among the three countries will motivate cooperation in the East Asian region so that they can set examples for promoting cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, said Zhou Mi, a researcher at the Institute of International Trade and Economic Cooperation of China's Ministry of Commerce.

The leaders of the three countries agreed at the summit meeting to set up mechanisms for the trilateral cooperation, maintain close communication and cooperation under multilateral frameworks, and jointly uphold peace, stability and prosperity in the world.

'Positive signal'

Monday's summit is the first such trilateral meeting in over four years, a cooperation mechanism launched in 1999 when the three countries aimed at jointly tackling the Asian financial crisis.

Noting this year marks the 25th anniversary of the mechanism, Li said that they were at a "new starting point."

Echoing Li, the leaders of the ROK and Japan hoped that the three countries would take this summit as a new starting point to maintain the stability and continuity of cooperation and deepen cooperation.

Although there are still a lot of uncertainties in relations among China, Japan and the ROK as well as the external environment, experts believe that the resumption of their trilateral leaders' meeting has in itself sent a positive signal to the world.

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