BEIJING (Reuters) - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit China from Oct. 25 to 27 in the first official visit by a Japanese leader in seven years, China said on Friday, as the United States steps up trade pressure on Beijing and Tokyo.
President Donald Trump has made clear he is unhappy over Japan’s $69-billion trade surplus with the United States, and wants a two-way agreement to address it with the U.S. ally.
He has also slapped tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese imports for what he calls its trade abuses, prompting retaliation from Beijing.
“We hope this visit by Prime Minister Abe can help consolidate and elevate mutual trust, deepen practical cooperation, and promote continuous new development in ties,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in Beijing.
China welcomes investment from Japanese firms, he told a regular briefing, adding that increasing trade and economic cooperation between the two major economies benefits both them and the world.
“We attach importance to China-Japan relations.”
Visits by Abe in recent years to attend multilateral events in China have not been considered official visits.
In September, after meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Russia, Abe said the two sides had agreed to work toward an October visit, in what was seen as a sign of warming ties between the two Asian rivals.
“Both Japan and China share a big responsibility for the peace and prosperity of this region,” Abe said in a speech in Tokyo on Friday.
He added that he aimed to drive ties between the neighbors to a new level through mutual visits by their leaders and expanded exchanges between their people.
Abe returned to office for a rare second term in December 2012, promising a hard line toward China in a territorial row over tiny islands in the East China Sea.
Although the dispute simmers, relations have stabilized recently amid trade actions by Washington toward both countries.
Reporting by Michael Martina in BEIJING and Yoshifumi Takemoto in TOKYO; Editing by Nick Macfie and Clarence Fernandez