Chinese President Xi Jinping offered Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe an olive branch at their first meeting in over a year on Monday, Beijing’s
official news agency Xinhua reported. The Asian giants have been at loggerheads over territorial disputes and historical animosity, but Xi said they should “put aside disruptions” in their relationship and return to normal development, Xinhua said.
For his part Abe said that Tokyo wanted to “manage difficult issues” and promote win-win cooperation, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported.
The relationship between the two powers — the world’s second- and third-largest economies — is crucial to regional stability but they have a long standing dispute over islands in the East China Sea controlled by Japan, which knows them as Senkaku, and claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu. The comments after a G20 summit in Hangzhou were in marked contrast to the last time the two met on Chinese soil, on the sidelines of an APEC summit in 2014, when they could barely conceal their mutual distaste.
Ties later thawed, but tensions have been rising again in recent months as Japan weighs in on another Chinese territorial dispute in the South China Sea, where Beijing has built artificial islands capable of supporting military facilities.
Abe has vocally criticised China for rejecting a July ruling by an international tribunal that said extensive claims to the strategically vital waters had no legal basis.