10th July 2017 – Bilateral talks between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, were held with the nations’ flags in the background for the first time in five years.

The last time the Japanese and Chinese flags were set up for a meeting between the two countries was in 2012 — the year in which three of the disputed Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture were bought by the Japanese government, angering Beijing.

The decision to include the flags in the background at Hamburg can be seen as a “gesture toward improving the relationship between China and Japan,” one diplomatic source said.

Shinzo Abe and Xi Jinping at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg with their respective flags

Shinzo Abe and Xi Jinping at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg with their respective flags

Xi and Abe were both present at the November 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing. However, as can be seen in a photo published at the time by the “People’s Daily,” the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, there were no national flags in the background during the sideline talks between Abe and Xi.

However, in five other photos taken of similar meetings during the APEC summit between Xi and other national leaders and published by the People’s Daily in the same photo series, the flags of the relevant countries including South Korea and Vietnam can be seen in the background.

The “People’s Daily” published the Hamburg meeting photo of Abe and Xi with both nations’ flags in the background in its July 9 morning edition.