The Another

    Relations with China set to dominate G7 talks in Japan



    Chinese President Xi Jinping in Guangzhou, China, on April 7, 2023.

    One front can hide another. Although more than ever concerned with closing ranks to support Ukraine against Russia, G7 leaders are also set to intensify their dialogue on China as they meet in Hiroshima, Japan, for two days, starting Friday, May 19. Amid recurring tensions between Washington and Beijing , the seven leading Western economies – the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, and Canada – are each recalibrating their ties with the emerging superpower whose regional positioning, particularly in military terms, and desire to take control of Taiwan are causing concern. In a city hit by the first nuclear bomb explosion on August 6, 1945, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kashida is keen to bridge the gap between the views of his guests including Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron.

    The China issue is especially sensitive because President Xi Jinping has positioned himself as an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has neither condemned nor sanctioned Moscow since the onset of Ukraine’s invasion. At the same time, Beijing intends to stand between the West and Russia to resolve the conflict. Chinese envoy Li Hui, special representative for Eurasian affairs, visited Kyiv on May 16-17, as part of a European tour that will also take him to Moscow, Paris, Berlin, and Warsaw.

    However, the Chinese “mediation” has triggered reservations in the Western camp: “We would like China to make explicit the need for Russia to withdraw from all Ukrainian territory. It is not enough to ask for a cease-fire. The fundamental requirement, because there is an aggressor and an aggressed, is that Russia withdraws from Ukraine,” a source at the Elysée told The world. The French presidency hopes to discuss the “parameters” of a negotiated exit to the conflict with Beijing. “We cannot have a normal relationship with China if it does not use its strong influence on Russia to end this war,” said High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell.

    The Taiwanese case

    Until then, the G7, during which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will once again participate remotely, is expected to maintain its commitment to support Ukraine “as long as it takes” while Kyiv prepares a counter-offensive in the hope of recovering the territories occupied by Russian troops and their auxiliaries. Western leaders are also expected to discuss the best way to implement sanctions adopted against Russia to limit their circumvention in countries such as Turkey or China which have not applied such decisions. In this spirit, the EU, against Beijing’s advice, is poised to restrict trade with eight Chinese companies accused of re-exporting products containing sensitive technologies, such as semiconductors and integrated circuits, to Russia.

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