Beijing, Nov 10: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met at the Great Hall pf the People here on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation on Monday, but more than anything else, it is the awkward handshake between the two leaders that caught all eyes.
The Xi-Abe meeting was the first time since the two leaders took office in November and December 2012, respectively.
Television reports said the Japanese prime minister was found waiting for Xi, while the usual protocol is the other way round. The Chinese president was also unsmiling and he did not even speak to the Japanese premier when they first met.
China and Japan, two of the world's top three economies, have always had a competitive relation and of late, the relation has been hit by territorial dispute, regional rivalry besides a disturbed a history of wartime occupation.
The two leaders, however, had a frank discussion and also agreed to work on maritime crisis. ""I think there was big progress in freshly improving the economic and various relationships between Japan and China," said Japan's chief secretary Yoshihide Suga in Tokyo, according to the Reuters.
According to experts, both the countries are concerned over the fact that the deteriorating diplomatic relation has harmed their economic relations and an escalation on the military front could see the involvement of the United States in the region.
Abe focussed more on improving relations with China during his first term in 2006-07 but took a more firm stand after assuming office again in 2012.