Xi, Suga will keep their first call sweet, analysts say – so no talk of Hong Kong, Taiwan or the Diaoyu Islands

Xi, Suga will keep their first call sweet, analysts say – so no talk of Hong Kong, Taiwan or the Diaoyu Islands

  • Japan’s new prime minister and the Chinese president are set to speak for the first time by phone on Friday
  • Likely to come up is Xi’s planned state visit, delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic and facing opposition from politicians in Suga’s party

Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Chinese President Xi Jinping are likely to avoid the contentious issues that dogged their countries’ relationship under Suga’s predecessor Shinzo Abe – including the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, Hong Kong and Taiwan – when they speak for the first time by phone on Friday, according to analysts.

Xi will congratulate Suga on his election, and the two leaders will express their commitment to harmonious and mutually beneficial ties as they “seek to take the heat out of the relationship”, one expert suggested.

One of the issues that is likely to come up is the possibility of resurrecting the plan for Xi to pay a state visit to Japan. The Chinese leader was scheduled to visit earlier this year, but the trip was delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak.