This week in the Indo-Pacific region saw the first visit by US President Joseph Biden. China paints Biden’s attempts to rally the allies under his leadership as ineffective. Decisive statements by the head of the White House regarding military assistance to Taiwan in the event of Beijing’s aggression did not, however, go beyond the long-term doctrine of “Strategic ambiguity/uncertainty.” Hence China’s state media did not spin any controversy with Biden.
The region was waiting for a more definite US line on tariff cuts, and in Tokyo, they even wished Washington a speedy return to the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership.
Meanwhile, according to the Japanese Ministry of Defense, two Russian Tu-95 bombers and two Chinese H-6 bombers made a joint flight over the Sea of Japan. It was a clear illustration of strengthening the military-strategic partnership between Russia and China.
The final statement of the heads of QUAD (USA, Japan, Australia and India) did not include words of accusation against Russia, as the American delegation insisted. Under pressure from India, QUAD had to limit itself to the phrase “tragic conflict tearing Ukraine apart”, without mentioning Russia. It speaks of India’s desire to maintain neutral and friendly relations with Russia while simultaneously recognizing the threats coming from China.
The Indo-Pacific region has demonstrated its adherence to pragmatic trade and economic priorities and opposes being drawn into the military-strategic confrontation between Moscow and Beijing.
The National Security Adviser (NSA) to the US President Jake Sullivan held a telecon with Yang Jiechi, a member of the Politburo, CPC Central Committee. During the conversation with Jake Sullivan, Yang Jiechi said that China would act decisively to protect its national interests and sovereignty if the US interfered in its internal affairs. He noted that relatively recently, representatives of Washington made several “incorrect actions and statements” by interfering in China’s internal affairs and thus, the White House harmed the interests of Beijing.
“We will act decisively and do everything necessary to protect our interests and sovereignty. If necessary, we will turn words into reality,” Jiechi said. Jiechi said that the Taiwan issue was important and sensitive in the relations between the two countries. Jiechi warned that if America played the “Taiwan card” and continued “on the wrong track”, it would lead to a “dangerous situation”.
Chinese President Xi Jinping addressing the BRICS Foreign Ministers over videoconference, called on the BRICS countries to participate in the stability of international relations in an era of turbulence. Xi said that the factors of instability, uncertainty and lack of security in the global situation are increasing every day. He said it is happening against the backdrop of “secular changes and an epidemic unprecedented in a century.” Xi was mum over his country’s unprovoked attack in India’s Ladakh region.
“Russia and Ukraine should end the conflict through negotiations as soon as possible,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, commenting on the capture of the Azovstal plant in Mariupol.
According to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, the United States sees no signs that China is providing any material support to Russia in conducting a military operation in Ukraine.
Canada takes action on Chinese telecommunications equipment
US ally Canada decided to ban the use of goods and services from Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturers Huawei and ZTE. In this way, Ottawa intends to ensure the security of its information infrastructure.
Before the decision, the Canadian authorities held consultations with the allies. All companies in Canada using Chinese equipment will have to get rid of it. Previously, the US imposed restrictions on the use of equipment from Huawei. According to Washington, Chinese telecommunications equipment poses a threat to the country’s national security.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry strongly protested the ban on Huawei and ZTE products in Canada. According to an official representative of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the actions of the Canadian authorities completely violated the principles of a market economy and free trade rules and also caused significant damage to the Chinese companies and their rights and legitimate interests. China itself does not practise a free-market economy and takes advantage of the principles overseas.
Taiwan tests its military in view of the Ukraine crisis
The Taiwan Defence Ministry decided to test the experience of military operations in Ukraine during the exercises. Taiwan’s Defense Minister Qiu Guozheng said that the Taiwanese military, during the staff exercises, will act in view of the experience of hostilities in Ukraine. They were also given the task of imitating the aggravation of relations with the Chinese Armed Forces. Only officers are involved in the exercises who will have to work on offensive and defensive operations. The first five-day phase of the manoeuvres ended on May 20.
The US is ready to use its troops in defense of Taiwan in the event of an “invasion” of the island, said Biden on May 23 during a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo. Biden noted that Washington agrees with the “one China” policy but considers the possibility of changing the island’s status by force inappropriate and compared such actions with the special operation of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine.
The Chinese authorities strongly protested, noting that “Taiwan is an inalienable part of the territory of China.” The Chinese Foreign Ministry urged the US to be careful in what they say on this issue.
South Korea asks China to reign in North Korea
South Korean Foreign Minister Pak Chin held a video meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Pak Chin called Pyongyang’s actions to build up its missile and nuclear capabilities unacceptable and also called on China’s constructive role in containing North Korea. In turn, Wang Yi called South Korea China’s strategic partner and suggested deepening bilateral ties through high-level, mutual, and cultural exchanges.
Japan accuses China of Aircraft Carrier Diplomacy
According to Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, China’s activity near the Japanese islands and Taiwan is a serious concern to Tokyo. According to him, on May 2, the aircraft carrier of the Chinese Navy “Liaoning” proceeded between the islands of Okinawa and Miyako to the Pacific Ocean, and after that, from May 3 to 15, more than 200 training takeoffs and landings of helicopters and fighters on the aircraft carrier were recorded.
Australia – China relations remain difficult
“Canberra-Beijing relations will remain difficult under the new government,” new Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said when asked by reporters about developing relations with Beijing. “The fact is that China has changed, but Australia has not. However, we must always stand up for our values , and we will continue to do so,” Albanese said.
Relations between Canberra and Beijing have been strained amid the coronavirus pandemic. In 2020, the Australian authorities demanded an international investigation into the causes of the pandemic and China’s role in it. Beijing imposed trade duties on the leading groups of goods shipped from Australia in response. Then a security agreement was signed between China and the Solomon Islands. After that, relations between Australia and China worsened even more. Canberra accused Beijing of “expansion” and an attempt to extend its influence to the Pacific island states. On May 21, 2022, parliamentary elections were held in Australia. According to the latest CEC data, the Australian Labor Party, following the processing of 70% of the ballots, will receive at least 77 seats in the new House of Representatives.