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Japan, U.S. unable to drive a wedge in China-Russia ties

By Oki Nagai, Junnosuke Kobara

 

VLADIVOSTOK – With China and Russia getting closer to each other, wariness is spreading within Japan and the U.S. Tokyo and Washington have been trying to drive a wedge between China and Russia to build a favorable international atmosphere, but in reality, the situation is moving in the opposite direction. On the large-scale military exercise [between Russia and China], a spokesperson of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization warned that “it must be carried out in a transparent and predictable fashion.” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that Japan is “closely watching.”

 

U.S. President Donald Trump met with Putin in July. Abe has been prioritizing forging ties with Putin since he returned to power for the second time. The Japanese and U.S. leaders wanted to restrain China on the thought that it would become easier to draw concessions by pushing China and Russia apart.

 

President Trump announced sanctions against Russia following the eruption of criticism of his pro-Russia policy at home. With investigations underway to unravel the truth about allegations over the murky relationships between people close to President Trump and Russia, the U.S. remains unable to find a path to improve its ties with Moscow.

 

Meanwhile, Japan has been steadily improving ties with China, yet little progress is made on the resolution of sensitive issues, such as gas development in the East China Sea. If China and Russia deepen their collaboration down the road, it might become difficult to address North Korea’s nuclear development and China’s maritime assertiveness.

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