China has said it is committed to peace in the region and reducing hostilities in the East China Sea following high-level talks with Japan. Both nations say they want better and more stable relations.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi conducted a joint press conference following a day of talks in Tokyo. It is the first time a senior Chinese official has visited Japan since the accession of PM Yoshihide Suga in September. 

Conflicting interests over the sovereignty of the East China Sea was supposedly high on the agenda following reports that a Chinese vessel had entered contested waters around the Pinnacle Islands, which both nations claim. 

Wang told the media he hoped the East China Sea could become a “sea of peace” through cooperation with Japan. 

However, he tempered his remarks, adding that Beijing would continue to defend its territorial sovereignty.  

Motegi spoke positively about the discussions, claiming “we were able to have a frank exchange of views on the mutual concerns of bilateral relations.” 

The two ministers announced they had agreed to work together to tackle Covid-19 and that they had reached an agreement to allow business traffic to resume by the end of November. 

“Stable relations between Japan and China are extremely important for the region and the international community…We have confirmed that both Japan and China, as responsible powers, will tackle and contribute to the issues of the international community, which will lead to further strengthening of Japan-China relations.” 

Relations between the two economic behemoths have become increasingly strained in 2020 with Beijing accusing Tokyo of forming alliances against China.

Last week, Japan and Australia signed a defense agreement which would see the two nations increase military cooperation, including allowing forces to undertake training missions on the other’s territory. 

Japan has also been taking part in the Malabar exercise, a naval training operation with the US, Australia and India. The exercise looks to increase naval interoperability between the allied nations, all of whom oppose China’s growing role in the region. 

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