As Washington and Beijing increasingly clash over global primacy, Japan's own ties with communist-ruled China are experiencing an upswing — at least on the surface — ahead of Tuesday's 70th anniversary of the People's Republic.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese leader Xi Jinping said in late June that ties have returned to a "normal track," as both talked up a "new era of Japan-China relations" at the Osaka Group of 20 summit during the Chinese leader's first visit to Japan as leader. Furthermore, the two leaders agreed that Xi will visit Japan again next spring — this time as a state guest.

The display has stood in stark contrast to the famously icy handshake in 2014 between the two Asian rivals, which highlighted how chilly relations between the world's second- and third-largest economies had become. That handshake, however, turned out to become something of a turning point, as the two leaders continued to push for a thaw, meeting several times on the sidelines of multilateral summits.