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China Seeks to Mediate in Japan-South Korea Trade Spat

SEOUL/TOKYO – In a move likely to be welcomed in Seoul but rebuffed by Tokyo, China is seeking to use its regional influence to act as a mediator in the escalating trade dispute between South Korea and Japan, Asian Review said Monday.
The spat over export controls will be a key agenda item when Beijing hosts the foreign ministers of the three Northeast Asian nations on Wednesday. To this end, Chinese state media published an academic’s commentary on Sunday that argued for Chinese arbitration in the dispute.
“China has always played an active role in regional economic integration, which is why China could act as a mediator to help Japan and South Korea reach a compromise,” Chen Youjun, a senior research fellow and director of regional economics office with the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, wrote in the Global Times.
“The approach of easing their tense relationship under a trilateral FTA framework could be a way to avoid nationalist pressure inside the two countries.”
Relations between Seoul and Tokyo have soured since South Korea’s Supreme Court ruled in October that Japanese companies should pay reparations to Korean laborers forced to work for them during Japan’s occupation of the Korean Peninsula (1910-1945).
Citing national security grounds, Japan restricted exports of three key materials to South Korea in July, and followed that by excluding the country from its “white list” of trusted trading partners — a move reciprocated by Seoul last week.
With Washington seemingly reluctant to step into the dispute between its two allies — it has not responded to a request from Seoul for help — China appears be looking to capitalize on weakened U.S. leadership in the region under President Donald Trump.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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