Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) shakes hands with South Korean President Moo Jae-in at the Blue House, the presidential demaure, in Seoul on November 26.

Taking advantage of the complex transition of power in the United States, China is pushing its pawns in Japan and South Korea, striving to strengthen its ties with these important trading partners and to dispel the mistrust generated by its attitude on territorial issues. , in Hongkong or Taiwan.

In Seoul, Thursday, November 26, its head of diplomacy, Wang Yi, insisted on the importance of his arrival in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, decided to “Show the importance we attach to China-South Korea relations”. With the president, Moon Jae-in, he discussed a visit by his counterpart Xi Jinping, expected after the pandemic subsides.

The two sides discussed regional security issues, including North Korea, and economic and health cooperation.

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The atmosphere in Tokyo on November 24 and 25 was less positive, without being hostile. Wang Yi, known as a connoisseur of Japan, where he served as an ambassador and whose language he speaks, delivered a message from Xi Jinping, expressing his hope for positive relations with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and a “Enhanced cooperation against the pandemic and for economic recovery”.

Willingness to cooperate

The disputed islets in the China Sea, named Senkaku on the Japanese side and Diaoyu on the Chinese side, administered by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing, have somewhat clouded the exchanges. Mr. Suga, who also addressed the Hong Kong and North Korean issues, regretted the repeated incursions – twenty times since the beginning of the year – of Chinese ships into territorial waters that Japan considers to be its own. Wang Yi insisted on China’s right to defend its sovereignty but hoped that the issue “Does not affect the hard-won progress in Sino-Japanese relations and the future development of bilateral relations.”

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In fact, it has not obscured a stated desire to cooperate, the two countries deciding to relaunch business travel with a relaxation of quarantine rules, to work together on climate change, health and online commerce, but also for the success of the Olympic Games in Tokyo in summer 2021 and those in Beijing in winter 2022.

Discussions, presented as “Frank” by the Japanese side, would translate according to Shunsuke Shigeta, analyst at Nihon keizai, the desire of Mr. Suga to put, more than his predecessor Shinzo Abe, “Emphasis on maintaining a balance in Japan’s relations with the United States and China”.

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