Issues of common concern include aging, environment

Leaders from China, Japan and the Republic of Korea reaffirmed on Tuesday their commitment to bolster regional economic integration and jointly tackle common challenges such as aging societies, healthcare and environmental protection.

Premier Li Keqiang, ROK President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also laid out a blueprint for trilateral cooperation for the next decade as they convened in Chengdu, Sichuan province, for the eighth China-Japan-ROK leaders’ meeting.

The three leaders agreed to speed up negotiations on a trilateral free trade agreement, aiming for a comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial FTA with its own value.

They also underlined the significance of coping with aging societies, with ways of promoting healthy and active aging through comprehensive policy measures. Trilateral cooperation in environmental protection, healthcare and addressing climate change was also highlighted.

China proposes the establishment of a joint investment fund between financial institutions from the three nations under commercial and market principles to provide funding support for trilateral cooperation and cooperation at an even larger scope, Li said at the leaders’ meeting.

The three countries, all firm supporters of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, must push for the signing of the trade pact next year as scheduled and work toward further regional economic integration, Li said.

Premier Li Keqiang, Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in (left) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attend a commemoration on Tuesday of the 20th anniversary of China-Japan-ROK cooperation in Chengdu, Sichuan province.

The three sides must consolidate the foundation for mutual trust, respect one another’s interests and major concerns and stay committed to dialogue and consultation in solving differences, he said.

China, Japan and the ROK, all major countries in innovation, must step up cooperation on innovation, foster new growth points and share innovation outcomes, he said.

He urged more efforts to enable easier mobile payments to provide more convenient services for tourists from the three countries.

Regarding the Korean Peninsula, Li said the three sides must jointly safeguard regional peace and stability and advance denuclearization and the establishment of a mechanism to promote peace on the peninsula, which fits with the common interests of all three countries.

The premier also stressed the need to uphold free trade and push forward reform of the World Trade Organization under the principles of mutual respect, fairness and win-win outcomes.

Moon said at the meeting that it is important that the three sides work closely together and keep expanding common interests against a backdrop of rising protectionism and increasing factors of instability.

He also urged greater efforts in protecting intellectual property rights and enabling closer people-to-people exchanges.

Abe said that Japan is committed to jointly uphold free trade and multilateralism with China and the ROK and to develop a fair, just and unbiased investment and business environment.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the trilateral cooperation mechanism. Trade volume among the three countries increased from $130 billion in 1999 to over $720 billion in 2018.

On Tuesday afternoon, the three leaders attended an event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the trilateral cooperation mechanism at the Du Fu Thatched Cottage, a park and museum in honor of the poet of the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

Li took the other two leaders on a tour around the park, which has a cluster of ancient buildings and was decorated with bonsai and thick vegetation.

They jointly signed three commemorative envelopes printed specially for the celebration, and planted a tree in the park.

Shumpei Takemori, a professor at Keio University in Tokyo, said new economic norms should be prepared for sustainable economic cooperation between Japan, China and the ROK, and the RCEP and the tripartite FTA should be actively and properly employed.

Yuzo Tanaka, an economics professor at Ryukoku University in Kyoto, said a free trade zone benefits all three nations because the economies are complementary.

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