Conflicts - TensionsNortheast Asia

PRC, Russia increasing military collaboration, Japan’s foreign minister warns

The Associated Press

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi expressed concern in mid-May 2023 about Chinese and Russian military cooperation in the region and said the security situation in Europe could not be separated from that in the Indo-Pacific since Moscow’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Hayashi said Russia’s war in Ukraine has “shaken the very foundation of the international order” and must face a united response by the global community.

“Otherwise, similar challenges will arise in other regions and the existing order which has underpinned our peace and prosperity could be fundamentally overturned,” Hayashi told a meeting of European and Indo-Pacific foreign ministers in Sweden. (Pictured, from left: Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell meet near Stockholm, Sweden, in May 2023.)

Japan firmly backs Ukraine in the war, but the PRC claims it remains neutral while declaring a “no limits” relationship with Moscow and blaming NATO and the United States for provoking the conflict. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, in March 2023 as Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping was meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Hayashi accused Beijing of “continuing and intensifying its unilateral attempts” to change the status quo in the East and South China seas by force, and of increasing its military activities around self-governed Taiwan, which the CCP claims as its territory.

“In addition, China and Russia are strengthening their military collaboration, including joint flights of their bombers and joint naval exercises in the vicinity of Japan,” Hayashi said.

The PRC claims most of the South China Sea — despite an international tribunal’s 2016 dismissal of those arbitrary and expansive claims as invalid — as well as Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea.

Hayashi also warned that North Korea is “escalating provocations” in the region by conducting ballistic missile launches “with a frequency and in a manner that are unprecedented.”

He joined dozens of ministers from the European Union and the Indo-Pacific for the meeting just north of the Swedish capital, Stockholm.

“Since the aggression of Russia to Ukraine, the security situation here in Europe and the security situation in the Pacific are not separable,” Hayashi said.

Most EU countries have provided military support to Ukraine and the bloc has imposed sanctions on Russia.

The PRC was not invited to the talks.

“We can perfectly discuss the Indo-Pacific without China,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said. “It doesn’t mean we neglect China. It doesn’t mean we want to substitute China.”


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