Xi and Kishida meet as North Korea launches a missile



The leaders of China and Japan held their first face-to-face talks in three years on Thursday, after North Korea launched the latest talks in a record missile attack that has heightened nuclear concerns.

Chinese President Xi Jinping traveled to the talks in Bangkok from the G20 meeting in Bali where US President Joe Biden pressured him to use his influence to curb Pyongyang’s activities.

North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile as Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida prepared to meet, warning Washington and its allies to expect a “more ferocious” military response.

The duo met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit focused on recovery from the pandemic and global economic turmoil unleashed by the war in Ukraine.

“It is important that we accelerate the building of a constructive and stable relationship between Japan and China through the efforts of both sides,” Kishida said at the start of the meeting.

His office had earlier denounced North Korea’s latest launch, which added to a new wave that began this month and included an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Also read: North Korea fires more than 20 missiles, one of which is close to the South

And warned Seoul and Washington that North Korea may be preparing to conduct a nuclear test will be the seventh.

Biden held a three-way summit in Phnom Penh last week with allies Kishida and South Korean President Yun Sok Yul to discuss the recent drama with North Korea.

The trio issued a joint statement warning that any new nuclear test would be met with a “strong and firm” response, without giving further details.

Biden said after his talks with Xi on Monday that he was confident that China – Pyongyang’s main diplomatic and economic ally – did not want Kim Jong Un’s regime to escalate tensions further.

– No new cold war –

China and Japan – the world’s second and third largest economies – are major trading partners, but relations have soured as Beijing builds up its military, displays power regionally and takes a harder line on regional rivalries.

Chinese missiles fired during intense military exercises around Taiwan in August are believed to have landed inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, and Tokyo has protested what it describes as increased air and sea violations in recent months.

Xi last had face-to-face talks with a Japanese prime minister in December 2019, when he met Shinzo Abe in Beijing, though he spoke to Kishida on the phone.

The APEC meeting, which will be attended by French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, concluded a diplomatic campaign in Asia, following the G20-ASEAN summit in Cambodia.

In written remarks to the APEC business summit on Thursday, Xi laid out a vision for Pacific economic cooperation, urging more open trade, closer cooperation and smooth supply chains.

“The Asia-Pacific region is not anyone’s backyard and should not become an arena for major power competition,” he said in English-language remarks.

“Neither the people nor our time will allow any attempt to wage a new Cold War.”

Historic summit talks between Biden and Xi on Monday sought to quell their rivalry, which has intensified in recent years as Beijing has grown more forceful and assertive about replacing the US-led order that has prevailed since World War Two.

Also read: North Korea launches more ballistic missiles amid international tension

The easing of tensions would be welcome news for APEC members who have grown increasingly anxious at the prospect of having to take sides.

While the pair still clash over the question of the future of autonomous Taiwan — a major regional hotspot — they have found common ground over Ukraine.

They asserted that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was unacceptable — a clear rebuke to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threats over his failed war in Ukraine.

Macron landed in Bangkok late Wednesday with the aim of relaunching France’s strategic ambitions in the Asia-Pacific region after the humiliating blow to Australia of canceling a major submarine contract in 2021.

“In this highly contested region, which is the scene of confrontation between the two major world powers, our strategy is to defend freedom and sovereignty,” Macron said on Thursday.

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