Japan and China are considering holding their first meeting in September of a bilateral committee to discuss private-sector cooperation for Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” development initiative, it was learned Tuesday.
The governments of the two countries plan to pick a specific project for cooperation at the committee, expected to be held in Beijing, so that it will be formally selected at a possible summit between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese government sources said.
Abe, should he win another term as chief of the Liberal Democratic Party in the ruling party’s September leadership election, hopes to visit China in October to hold a meeting with Xi.
The bilateral committee is expected to be co-chaired by Hiroto Izumi, special adviser to Abe, and Ning Jizhe, vice head of China’s National Development and Reform Commission.
A railway project in Thailand is a candidate initiative that may be chosen by the committee, according to the sources.
The establishment of the committee, comprising representatives from the two countries’ public and private sectors, was officially agreed on at a meeting between Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in May.
It will operate under an existing ministerial-level Japan-China economic dialogue forum, discussing private-sector economic cooperation in other countries.
The Abe administration is eager to support the “One Belt, One Road” initiative as the prime minister hopes to obtain China’s cooperation in resolving the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals decades ago.
China, for its part, is apparently willing to keep the United States in check by facilitating cooperation with Japan, at a time when Beijing and Washington are in a tit-for-tat trade battle.
Abe hopes that his envisaged trip to China in October will lead to a reciprocal visit to Japan by Xi, the sources said.