What Happened: China has promised to mediate between Japan and South Korea to help both countries resolve their ongoing trade dispute, the South China Morning Post reported Aug. 21. Meanwhile, the Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers sat down for bilateral talks for the first time since a July 8 trilateral meeting with the United States.
Why It Matters: Although China, Japan and South Korea have all underscored the importance of the trilateral negotiating framework, it remains unclear whether bilateral meetings between officials from Seoul and Tokyo will produce tangible results. If both countries fail to reach an understanding, it would significantly increase the chances of a further escalation as South Korea will have to decide by Aug. 24 whether to scrap an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan.
Background: For the past month, Seoul and Tokyo have been embroiled in a dispute that risks igniting a trade war after Japan imposed restrictions on the export of key industrial supplies to South Korea in early July.
- Seoul and Tokyo Stare Each Other Down (July 18, 2019)
- China, Japan and South Korea Agree to Talk Things Through (May 15, 2018)
- South Korea, Japan: Friction Strains But Doesn't Destroy Collaboration (July 17, 2017)