by Xinhua writers Chen Shilei, Li Zhongfa, Liu Hua
BEIJING, May 20 (Xinhua) -- The fourth China-Japan-ROK (Republic of Korea) Leaders Meeting is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday in Tokyo. The event is expected to lay a foundation for deepening trilateral cooperation after the March 11 Japanese quake and improving China-Japan relations.
Analysts say trilateral cooperation between China, Japan and the ROK is entering a new phase of development as the next year marks the 40th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan diplomatic ties and the 20th anniversary of the establishment of China-ROK relations.
This weekend's meeting will feature a great deal of discussions regarding the Japan earthquake, as it is the first trilateral meeting to take place since the quake occurred.
Leaders will discuss the implementation of the "2020 Trilateral Cooperation Vision" project, which was agreed to by leaders at the previous China-Japan-ROK Leaders Meeting. The project will highlight more than 40 aspects of cooperation in five different areas, according to Yang Bojiang, a professor with the University of International Relations in Beijing.
Leaders will also discuss cooperative methods of dealing with natural disasters, including enhanced disaster prevention training and post-disaster aid, Yang said.
The Japan earthquake will have a great impact on the development of trilateral cooperation, said Liu Jiangyong, a professor at the Institute of International Studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
"The focus of cooperation has changed since the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. Strengthening cooperation on nuclear power plant construction and enhancing nuclear safety will be on the agenda," Liu said.
"It is in the best interest of China, Japan and the ROK to coordinate their positions in order to counter natural disasters," said Lu Yaodong, a researcher at the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
IMPROVING COOPERATIVE MECHANISMS
At the first China-Japan-ROK Leaders Meeting held in Japan's city of Fukuoka in December 2008, leaders issued an Action Plan for Promoting Trilateral Cooperation.
Since then, trilateral cooperation has developed quickly. During the third Leaders Meeting in 2010, the three parties agreed to set up a trilateral cooperation secretariat in the ROK in 2011 in order to expedite the construction of a cooperative mechanism.
"China expects the three countries to improve their trilateral cooperation mechanism by establishing a professional secretariat as early as possible," Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue said at the meeting.
"The secretariat, as a permanent institution, can promote the implementation of the agreement reached by leaders by enhancing daily coordination and communication in foreign affairs, economics, business and culture," Liu said.
China, Japan and the ROK are three of Asia's most important economies, accounting for nearly 70 percent of the Asian gross domestic product (GDP).
Analysts say it is the common will and goal of the three countries to promote cooperation on important projects, such as a joint study on the China-Japan-ROK free trade area.
In 2010, the three countries saw trilateral trade volume exceed pre-financial crisis levels, as well as a record number of personnel exchanges.
Bilateral trade between China and the ROK reached 200 billion U.S. dollars in 2010, up 32.6 percent from the previous year.
"The establishment of the China-Japan-ROK free trade area is a trend, because the three parties have a common will to advance the economy," Yang said.
ADVANCING CHINA-JAPAN RELATIONS
During Wen's stay in Japan, he will hold a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan. It will be this year's first meeting between the leaders of China and Japan.
Wen will also visit Japan's Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, which were particularly hard-hit by the quake, to show China's support for Japan's post-quake reconstruction.
Liu said that Wen's visit to the quake-stricken areas will exert a positive influence on Japanese society and help to improve relations between the people of both nations.
"China-Japan relations have been negatively affected by a collision between a Chinese fishing trawler and two Japanese patrol vessels in the East China Sea last year," Liu said.
Yang said the visit is an important step in improving China-Japan relations.
"Despite structural contradictions between China and Japan, it is more important for the two countries to do their best to broaden their consensus and promote cooperation under the current circumstances," Yang said.