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U.S.-China rift over Hong Kong affecting Japan’s diplomacy

Nikkei claimed that the rift between the United States and China over Hong Kong is directly affecting Japan’s diplomacy, as Japan needs to tread carefully in view of Chinese leader Xi’s planned visit to Tokyo at a time when President Trump is preparing to hold a G7 summit in September to discuss how to deal with China. The paper speculated that President Trump’s remarks on May 30 indicating the possibility of postponing the G7 summit until September and inviting Russia, Australia, India, and South Korea to join it were intended to form a coalition against China. The paper also conjectured that an expanded G7 could serve as a framework to encourage the participants to follow the United States’ lead in criticizing Beijing’s enactment of a national security law for Hong Kong. However, the paper argued that although the United States is an ally and a critical security partner for Japan in responding to China’s increasing maritime advancement in the South and East China Seas and Prime Minister Abe has developed Japan’s trade and security strategies based on his personal relationship with President Trump, it is difficult for Tokyo to act in accordance with Washington’s possible sanctions against Chinese and Hong Kong officials and cancellation of special treatment for Hong Kong in view of Japan’s close economic ties with Hong Kong.

 

The paper wrote that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga declined to comment on the United States’ approach to the Hong Kong issue during a news conference on Monday. Suga also declined to comment on the idea of expanding the G7 and simply said that the G7 is an important partner for Japan. The paper added that Washington may urge Tokyo to take a tougher position on Beijing if China moves forward with implementing the security law in Hong Kong before September when the United States plans to convene the G7 summit.

 

In a related story, Yomiuri wrote that Suga did not express Japan’s position on President Trump’s suggestion of the possibility of expanding the G7 framework and simply said that the United States is studying the format of the G7 as the host of the conference this year. Suga reportedly said the G7 is an important framework for discussing policy coordination in tackling global challenges. Sankei speculated that Prime Minister Abe is planning to attend the G7 summit regardless of the format.

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