Relations with China will be determined by Beijing’s behavior, says EU politician
By Humeyra Pamuk and Sakura Murakami
KARUIZAWA, Japan (Reuters) – Relations between China and Europe will be determined by Beijing’s behavior, including what happens with Taiwan, the European Union’s foreign policy chief said on -Nobody.
Remarks by EU High Representative Josep Borrell, in a distant address at the start of the Group of Seven (G7) Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Japan, highlighted two of the issues that came into focus ahead of the three-day meeting: the need for a unified approach to China and concerns about Taiwan.
China takes center stage when foreign ministers from the world’s advanced democracies meet in the Japanese resort town of Karuizawa. Japan, the only Asian member of the group, is increasingly concerned about the growing power of neighboring China in the region and is particularly focused on the possibility of military action against Taiwan.
“Anything that happens in the Taiwan Strait will mean a lot to us,” Borrell said, stressing the need to work with China and keep communications open.
He described China as a “systemic partner, competitor and rival” and said which of these three relationships the EU tends towards “is determined by China’s behaviour”.
The ministers of foreign affairs opened the ministerial meetings with a working lunch on Sunday evening, during which they discussed the Indo-Pacific. The conversation focused on China, said a State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan said that relations with China require a sincere and open engagement, which other foreign ministers agreed,” he said, adding that the G7 ministers agreed to seek a peaceful solution to -the political status of Taiwan.
Beijing considers Taiwan to be Chinese territory and will not hesitate to use force to take the democratically governed island. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen says that only the people of the island can decide their future.
Recent comments by French President Emmanuel Macron highlighted possible differences between Europe and the United States on China. In interviews after his visit to China earlier this month, Macron warned against being drawn into a Taiwan crisis driven by “American pace and Chinese overreaction.”
This sparked a backlash, and on Friday European foreign policy leaders urged Beijing not to use force against Taiwan and took a hard line.
“There is a collective concern about a number of actions that China is taking,” the US official told reporters on the Vietnam-Japan plane, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the information.
In Vietnam, Foreign Minister Antony Blinken met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh. Both sides have expressed a desire to deepen ties as Washington seeks to solidify alliances to confront China.
“COMMONS AND CONCERTS”
There will likely be a discussion on how members can continue to take a “common and coordinated approach” to China, the official said.
Recent G7 statements have included calls for open and constructive engagement with Beijing, while acknowledging that “all G7 members individually have deep economic ties” to the world’s second-largest economy, the official said.
The Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock wanted to emphasize the unity among the G7 members.
“As democracies, we are successful in systemic competition with autocratic forces when our partners and friends around the world trust us. We must avoid that our unity is misunderstood by others as separation or that new divisions are created,” she said in a statement before her trip to Japan.
Taiwan is also a topic of discussion, the senior US official said, but declined to comment on any specific new languages.
For the host country Japan, the crisis in Ukraine has raised concerns about the possibility of Chinese military intervention in nearby Taiwan.
“For Japan, the G7 is a platform where it can say that security issues are not only about the war in Ukraine,” said Yoichiro Sato, professor of international relations at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University.
“Putting China on the agenda is important not only for Japan but also for the United States,” he said.
In a statement, Britain’s Foreign Office said G7 ministers will discuss how international assistance can be deployed in the most strategic way to help Ukraine’s armed forces continue their their advancement on the battlefield and “ensuring lasting peace”.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Sakura Murakami; Additional reporting by William James in London and Andreas Rinke in Berlin; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by William Mallard)