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Leaders of China and South Korea meet ahead of trilateral talks with Japan.



China and South Korea have agreed to launch a diplomatic and security dialogue and resume talks on a free trade agreement ahead of their trilateral summit with Japan. The meeting between Chinese Premier Li Qiang, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is the first three-way talk in over four years. The leaders are working towards mending ties between South Korea and Japan and deepening their trilateral security partnership with the United States amidst increasing China-US rivalry.
During their meeting, Yoon emphasized the common challenges faced by China and South Korea in international affairs, pointing to the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza as sources of global economic uncertainty. Yoon expressed the need for the two countries to work together to address these challenges and strengthen bilateral cooperation amid today’s complex global crises. Li also highlighted the importance of not turning economic and trade issues into political or security matters and maintaining stable supply chains.
Chinese leaders have been critical of the US and its allies, including South Korea and Japan, for export controls targeting China’s semiconductor industry. Li stressed the need for building consensus and resolving differences through equal dialogue and sincere communications. The leaders are working towards easing regional tensions and fostering deeper ties between China, South Korea, and Japan.
Yoon and Kishida also discussed progress on diplomatic, economic, and cultural exchanges between South Korea and Japan, agreeing to strengthen ties as the two countries celebrate the 60th anniversary of normalizing relations next year. Kishida emphasized the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, while also asking for the early release of a Japanese national imprisoned in China. The leaders have expressed hopes that the trilateral summit could help ease regional tensions despite low expectations for significant announcements or breakthroughs.
The three neighbors agreed to hold annual summits starting in 2008 to enhance regional cooperation, but bilateral disputes and the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the initiative. The last trilateral summit took place in late 2019. While there are no major expectations for the upcoming meeting, the leaders are optimistic that it could contribute to easing tensions in the region and fostering closer cooperation between China, South Korea, and Japan.

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