• Politics & Government

Chinese Commerce Minister Rebukes Criticism About Anti-Espionage Law Arrest; Japan-China Economic Association Dialogue

Pool photo / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao, left, held a meeting with the Japan-China Economic Association’s delegation.

BEIJING — Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao in a meeting on Thursday with a delegation of the Japan-China Economic Association justified the Chinese authorities’ detention of a Japanese employee of a Japanese company, according to the delegation’s minutes of the meeting.

During the talks in Beijing, Wang told the delegation, “The same kind of problems have occurred in Japan for the Chinese.”

The meeting was primarily held behind closed doors.

According to the minutes, Nippon Steel Corp. President Kosei Shindo, who headed the delegation, Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) Chairman Masakazu Tokura and other members expressed their deep concern to Wang about an incident that occurred in October 2023. A Japanese employee of Astellas Pharma Inc. was officially arrested at that time. The delegation voiced their concern about the country’s anti-espionage law.

In response, Wang mentioned cases in Japan that Chinese nationals were arrested on suspicion of leaking business secrets. A senior researcher in the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, a state-run research organization, who has Chinese nationality was arrested in June 2023. A former Chinese employee of Alps Alpine Co., a major electronic parts maker, was also arrested in December of that year.

Wang said, “I hope we can have a mature relationship between mature nations instead of loudly making a fuss,” suggesting that he had no intention to compromise.

Because the Japanese side expected that concerns about the anti-espionage law and other issues would be resolved, a source in the Japanese delegation lamented, “I hadn’t expected that he would make such a detailed rebuttal.”

The delegation, which visited China for the first time in four years, also met with Premier Li Qiang and agreed to strengthen cooperation in economic fields.