Xi buddies up to Abe amidst trade fallout

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Japan's Shinzo Abe arrived in China Thursday, the first visit to the Asian giant by a Japanese prime minister since relations between the two countries soured six years ago over a territorial row.

It is also expected to promote trust, which has been fragile at times since they restored diplomatic relations in 1972.

Shared trade friction with the US appears to be drawing longtime Asian rivals China and Japan closer, with Chinese President Xi Jinping telling Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday that the two countries are "sharing more common interests and concerns".

Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aiming at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of Silk Road.

He added that Japan sees its bilateral cooperation with China as an opportunity to forward progress in those areas and engage in constructive frank discussions.

Asia's two largest economies are seeking to deepen trade, investment and cooperation on infrastructure and other projects in third countries.

The ongoing visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to China, just ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Japan on Sunday, will have no effect on India-Japan ties, said Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale.

"Both Japan and China are being targeted by the US", Koichi Nakano, professor of political science, at Tokyo's Sophia University told CNN.

Since an awkward 2014 encounter between Mr Abe and Mr Xi on the sidelines of a summit, there have been ministerial visits by both sides and a softening of rhetoric.

The trip heralds warming ties following years of acrimony between the two countries.

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On Friday, Abe is scheduled to hold separate meetings with Li and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The arrangement, which takes effect on Friday and lasts until October 25, 2021, will allow the exchange of local currencies between the two central banks for up to 200 billion yuan or 3.4 trillion yen ($30 billion), the BOJ said.

"From competition to co-existence, Japan and China bilateral relations have entered a new phase", the Japanese premier told reporters in Beijing. The deal was created to enhance the financial stability of the two countries, the Bank of Japan said in a statement.

Japan's relations with its biggest trading partner turned hostile in 2012, when it nationalized part of a disputed East China Sea island chain, sparking sometimes violent protests and damaging business ties.

Japan this year terminated four decades of government assistance to China, considered by some as a type of reparations for the damage caused during its invasion and occupation.

Following his arrival in Beijing, Abe is slated to attend a reception to celebrate the 40th anniversary of a peace and friendship treaty between the two countries.

North Korean missiles have Japan in easy reach and a number of abducted Japanese citizens remain captives in the North.

In the past year, China has stepped up its outreach to Japan and others as it locked horns over trade with the United States.

The move triggered anti-Japan demonstrations across China, and things worsened after Abe - who was subsequently described as an "unwelcome person" - visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which commemorates Japan's 2.5 million war dead.

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