China’s Premier to Hold Rare Summit with U.S.-Allied South Korea, Japan

SEOUL – In a significant diplomatic move, leaders from China, Japan, and South Korea will convene for their first trilateral talks in four years on May 27 in Seoul. This summit aims to rejuvenate trade and security dialogues amidst escalating global tensions.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida are set to adopt a joint statement covering six key areas: the economy and trade, science and technology, people-to-people exchanges, health, and the aging population, according to Seoul officials.

This trilateral summit follows a series of bilateral meetings held separately between the leaders. In their discussions, Premier Li and President Yoon agreed to initiate a diplomatic and security dialogue and resume free trade talks. Prime Minister Kishida and Premier Li addressed issues regarding Taiwan and decided to hold a new round of high-level economic dialogue.

President Yoon also urged China to take a constructive stance with its partners in North Korea, which continues to expand its nuclear weapons and missile arsenal in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

In a related development, North Korea has notified Japan of its plan to launch a rocket carrying a space satellite between May 27 and June 4, as reported by the Japan Coast Guard. In response, officials from the United States, Japan, and South Korea held phone talks, demanding North Korea cancel the launch due to its use of ballistic missile technology, which violates UN resolutions, according to Japan’s Foreign Ministry.

Expectations for major announcements from the summit remain modest, with officials and diplomats from South Korea and Japan emphasizing that the mere act of convening is a positive step towards mending and invigorating strained relations.

Nikkei reported that the leaders are likely to agree on resuming negotiations for a free trade agreement during their meeting.

Amid the geopolitical rivalry between Beijing and Washington, and tensions over Taiwan—a democratically ruled island that China claims as its own—this summit represents an effort by China, Japan, and the US-allied South Korea to manage rising distrust and foster regional stability.