Photo/IllutrationChinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, right, shakes hands with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono, watched by South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha, before their trilateral meeting at Gubei town in Beijing on Aug. 21. (Pool Photo via AP)

BEIJING--The foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea met in Beijing on Wednesday as they seek to encourage progress on North Korean denuclearization.

The trilateral discussion took place amid tense relations between Japan and South Korea over export controls.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China will work with the two countries to maintain multilateralism and free trade and commit to the region's stability.

He met with Japan's Taro Kono and South Korea's Kang Kyung-wha.

Ties between Japan and South Korea have been strained since Japan tightened export controls on key materials for South Korea's semiconductor industry and decided to downgrade the nation's trade status.

Seoul accuses Tokyo of weaponizing trade to retaliate for political rows over wartime history.

China and South Korea only recently began healing ties after Beijing exacted painful economic retaliation on South Korea over Seoul's decision to host a powerful U.S. missile defense system.

Wang met separately with Kono on Tuesday. China and Japan are enjoying an unusually calm period in their often-turbulent relationship, which was at a breaking point a few years ago due to a dispute over East China Sea islands controlled by Japan but claimed by China.

China is North Korea's most important ally and has argued that steps by Pyongyang depend on security assurances from Seoul and Washington.