Japan says state visit by China’s Xi postponed

TOKYO (AFP) – A state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping has been postponed as preventing the outbreak of the new coronavirus is “the biggest challenge” facing both countries, Japan’s top government spokesman said yesterday.

“It is necessary to give first priority to this,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe formally invited Xi to visit during last year’s G20 summit in Osaka. The last state visit by a Chinese president to Japan was in 2008, and Xi’s trip was being cast as a sign of warming bilateral ties.

The coronavirus outbreak, however, has delayed the visit.

“China and Japan are both currently fully fighting the NCP (novel coronavirus pneumonia) epidemic,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a news conference in Beijing.