China and Japan should jointly work to support free trade and global growth, said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a speech in Beijing that kicked off the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Reuters reports.
Both Asian countries have an interest in developing closer ties to safeguard against a further escalation in trade tensions with the United States. This is the first state bilateral visit between the two countries in seven years.
“We hope both sides would work hard to promote regional peace, safeguard multilateralism and free trade, and become the axis of stability, growth and momentum for not just Asia but the world,” Li said at the set-piece event in the Great Hall of the People.
Abe responded that China and Japan had “an indispensable role [to play] in the economic development of not just Asia but the world.”
The two countries are expected to sign up to 50 memoranda of understanding on joint economic projects. Japan is hopeful that it may even convince China to honor their 2008 agreement to co-develop gas fields near disputed islands in the East China Sea, which both countries claim and which have caused enormous diplomatic tension in recent years.