China and Ukraine on the menu of a G7 ministerial session in Japan

The heads of diplomacy from the G7 countries arrived in Karuizawa (center), a small Japanese mountain resort, on Sunday to discuss the growing pressure of China on Taiwan and the conflict in Ukraine. The delegations, including that of the American Secretary of State Antony Blinken, came from Tokyo on board the Japanese high-speed train “Shinkansen” and were to meet for a dinner behind closed doors devoted to the challenges posed by China.

East Asia under the radar

The diplomatic agenda of the past few days has been marked by East Asia with North Korea’s Thursday launch of what it claimed was a ‘new type’ of solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) . Last weekend, China conducted military maneuvers around Taiwan, simulating attacks and a blockade of the island which it considers part of its territory.

The G7 has regularly warned Beijing against any attempt to forcefully change the status quo regarding Taiwan and some of its members are once again sounding the alarm. “We have an interest in seeing peace and stability reign in the Taiwan Strait,” European Foreign Minister Josep Borrell told reporters on Sunday, speaking by videoconference after testing positive for Covid-19 this week. week. “Our position is the one China policy, we respect it and we will continue to support it, but we want to defuse tensions and any change by force will be unacceptable,” he added.

“Keep freedom of maneuver”

The wording of the joint communiqué of the group of seven main industrialized countries (Germany, Canada, United States, France, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom) will be scrutinized after recent remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron. Returning from a visit to China, he said Europe should not be caught up in “crises that are not (his) own”, irritating allies anxious not to undermine relations with Washington. The presidential entourage then assured that the French position had not changed and many observers expect the G7 to reiterate its warnings from China against any modification of the status quo concerning Taiwan. The talks will be “to ensure how we can continue to be fully aligned on a concerted and common approach” to Beijing, a senior US State Department official told reporters. .

For Paul Nadeau, professor of political science at the Japanese campus of the American Temple University, Emmanuel Macron’s statements betray a reality: “Each member (of the G7) wishes to maintain freedom of maneuver in the way in which he manages his relations with China”, politically and commercially. Consensus will undoubtedly be easier to obtain on Ukraine, the occasion for the Japanese host to underline his certainty that the Russian invasion only accentuates the need to redouble our vigilance in Asia. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, whose government at the end of 2022 approved a major revision of its defense doctrine in the face of the rise of Chinese power, has repeatedly warned that “Asia could be the Ukraine of tomorrow”. From the beginning of the conflict, Japan joined the Western powers of the G7 in imposing sanctions on Moscow, also sending defensive equipment and welcoming Ukrainian refugees.

Meeting under high security

“The challenge, beyond looking for new entities and sectors to sanction, is to ensure that the sanctions are not circumvented and that we manage to cut off the resources” of Russia, indicates a French diplomat under covered with anonymity. The conflict in Ukraine and the rise in Sino-American tensions have also highlighted the issue of economic security and the need to diversify supply chains in the areas of energy and semiconductors.

The discussions of the heads of diplomacy of the G7 should also focus on a global plan for investments in the infrastructure of the countries of the South as well as on other crises, from Afghanistan to Burma via Sudan where fighting between soldiers and paramilitaries caused 56 civilian deaths in 24 hours. The ministerial meeting which is being held under heightened surveillance after the explosion on Saturday without a victim of a device targeting Fumio Kishida during an electoral event must finally prepare for a summit of G7 heads of state in May in Hiroshima.

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