As you can see in the video above, warmth and good will weren’t exactly radiating from Monday’s meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The meeting was the two leaders’ first since they each took office, and took place on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing.
The meeting was reportedly the result of months of backdoor talks between the two governments, which are locked in bitter disputes over control of islands in the East China Sea as well as long-simmering anger over World War II.
While the talks were hailed as a breakthrough, Xi in particular seemed intent on demonstrating to the Chinese public that this wasn’t a friendly get-together. In contrast to normal diplomatic protocol, the visiting Abe waited for Xi to show up at the Great Hall of the People rather than the other way around. Xi also doesn’t seem to respond to Abe’s greeting.
The two reportedly discussed maritime crisis management and what the Chinese foreign ministry called “historical issues” that “concern the feelings of more than 1.3 billion Chinese people.” While Japan’s chief Cabinet secretary said the two leaders “exchanged views frankly,” there was apparently no specific mention of either the islands or Abe’s controversial visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which commemorates Japan’s war dead but also contains the remains of convicted war criminals.
The Xi-Abe love-fest wasn’t the only awkward encounter at the summit. Presidents Obama and Putin reportedly “greeted each other” today but have not yet had a substantial conversation. Just last week, Russia announced plans to boycott a 2016 nuclear summit that will be hosted by Obama.