The fourth China-Japan-South Korea summit took place over the weekend of 21 and 22 May 2011. Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and South Korean president Lee Myung-Bak began their Japan trip by visiting the disaster hit areas. The two countries were among the first to offer help immediately following the magnitude 9.0 earthquake.
Report: East Asian Leaders Agree on Trade, Nuclear Cooperation[Voice of America, 23 May 2011]
Although disagreements among the three countries on how to handle Pyongyang were exposed during the summit, ‘the business communities in each country will work together to promote "industrial and regional recovery in Japan” following the devastating 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami,’ the Japan Business Federation, China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and the Federation of Korean Industries said in a joint statement in Tokyo on Sunday afternoon.
The countries agreed to cooperate on disaster management, nuclear safety, economic growth, sustainable development, security issues and cultural affairs.
Report: Wen’s Trip Deepens China-Japan-S.Korea cooperation: Chinese FM [Xinhua, 23 May 2011]
Bilateral ties were not forgotten during this summit.
China and Japan announced they are willing to boost high-level exchanges to strengthen mutual trust ahead next year’s 40th anniversary celebration of the normalization of Japan-China diplomatic ties.
China will offer economic assistance to Japan by sending trade delegations and tourists. Import and export restrictions due to concern over safety of food, as well as unhappiness over the clash in territorial waters will also be eased. They will also share experiences in disaster prevention and relief work, as well as work together on energy, to make it renewable and more efficient. On cultural issues, Wen suggested an exchange program initiative between Chinese and Japanese youths to improve friendship.
Report: Japan, China, South Korea eye trade pact [WSJ, 22 May 2011]
Wen also stressed on the importance of China’s strategic ties with South Korea.
He praised the current economic and trade cooperation between the two countries, and suggested both sides negotiate a free trade agreement as well as make efforts to expand cooperation in new sectors including energy and environmental protection. He added that China and S. Korea are ‘neighbours and countries of important influence’ and they need to ‘join hands to meet challenges.’
Report: Chinese Premier stresses China’s strategic ties with S. Korea [Xinhua, 22 May 2011]
When it came to discussions about Pyongyang’s nuclear developments, Wen stood by his stand that the soft approach, made up of dialogues and consultations between the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, was the best way to defuse confrontation with North Korea.
His comments, together with Kim Jong-il's reported surprise visit to China highlighted how North Korea and its nuclear activities continue to divide the big powers of northeast Asia, even while they talk up economic cooperation and the need for more trust after a rocky 2010.
Background & analysis: China Pushes Talks on North Korea as Kim visits [Reuters, 22 May 2011]