Japan’s Abe Presses China’s Wang on Hong Kong, Maritime Disputes

Isabel Reynolds

(Bloomberg) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged China to preserve a free Hong Kong and backed Beijing’s “one country, two systems” principle of governing it in a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, just as pro-democracy candidates triumphed in an election in the city.

Abe also “strongly pushed” for China to deal positively with disputes over the East China Sea, Japanese citizens detained in China and Japanese food exports, according to a statement by Japan’s Foreign Ministry. Wang met with Abe in Tokyo on Monday following a meeting of G-20 foreign ministers over the weekend and ahead of talks with his counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi.

“The prime minister pointed out the importance of a free and open Hong Kong prospering under one country, two systems,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, told reporters. Wang told reporters following his meeting with Abe that Hong Kong would remain part of China, whatever happens.

“Any efforts to create chaos in Hong Kong or to damage Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity will not succeed,” Wang said.

When Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, the Chinese government pledged that the city would have a “high degree of autonomy” in its legal and economic affairs for 50 years, under the arrangement known as “one country, two systems.”

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Japan is working toward a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping next spring, which would crown Abe’s drive to restore a relationship between the two largest economies in Asia that was in a deep freeze when he took office in 2012. The task is complicated by a territorial dispute and prickly ties between China and the U.S., Japan’s only treaty ally.

Abe and Wang agreed to work with China for a successful visit by Xi, according to the foreign ministry statement.

Hong Kong residents handed a landslide victory to pro-democracy candidates in local district council elections on Sunday after months of protests over how the city should be governed.

--With assistance from Takashi Hirokawa and Peter Martin.

To contact the reporter on this story: Isabel Reynolds in Tokyo at ireynolds1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Daniel Ten Kate at dtenkate@bloomberg.net, Jon Herskovitz, Karen Leigh

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