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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to attend bilateral student exchange event with Japan

Kyodo

In a sign of improving relations between Tokyo and Beijing, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang plans to attend a bilateral student exchange event with Japan later this month, sources close to diplomatic ties said.

From the Japanese side, Yoshimasa Hayashi, minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, is likely to take part in the Aug. 29 event at Peking University in Beijing.

Tokyo hopes that the rare attendance of the Chinese premier at a bilateral student exchange event will help realize the goal of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visiting China for talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in October, the sources said Monday.

Xi is also expected to participate in the Group of 20 summit to be held in Japan next June.

The relationship between the two Asian neighbors, which is often been strained by different views on history and territory, has recently been improving as this year marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of a bilateral peace and friendship treaty, the sources said.

In May, Li became the highest-ranking Chinese official to pay a visit to Japan in seven years. During the visit, Li and Abe agreed to promote bilateral youth exchanges.

The event at Peking University will bring together about 1,000 Japanese and Chinese students. For the previous session of a similar exchange event in August last year, no minister was dispatched from the Japanese side, while then-Vice Premier Liu Yandong took part from China.

Following the student exchange event on Aug. 29, Hayashi plans to take part in a ministerial cultural meeting involving Japan, China and South Korea in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, the sources said. Hayashi is also scheduled to hold talks with Luo Shugang, Chinese minister of culture and tourism, during his stay in China, they said.