Xi Jinping will be visiting Japan for the first visit since becoming China’s president, when he heads to Osaka this weekend to attend the Group of 20 summit.
While Xi got off to a strained start with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the two have made significant progress in turning around their countries’ tense bilateral relations in recent years.
Analysts cite various factors for the steadily warming ties, but one that stands out is the 2016 election of U.S. President Donald Trump, whose “America First” policies helped accelerate rapprochement between Asia’s biggest economies.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have come a long way since their now-famous icy handshake in November 2014.
That painfully awkward moment between the two leaders led to the creation of a cartoon meme. Yet it was a symbolic first step in a long — and so far successful — process of tamping down soaring tensions between the Asian economic giants.
Now, they will be trying to keep that going when Xi heads to Japan on Thursday to meet Abe, ahead of the Group of 20 summit in Osaka this weekend. It will be the first visit to the country by a Chinese president since 2010.