Over the weekend, during a meeting of European and Indo-Pacific foreign ministers in Sweden, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi outlined his concern about Moscow and Beijing’s military cooperation in Asia, saying that the safety and security of Europe could not be separated from the Indo-Pacific region.
During the meeting, Hayashi said that Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine had “shaken the very foundation of the international order,” calling for a united response by the international community. The Japanese Foreign Minister joined several ministers from the European Union (E.U.) and Indo-Pacific region for the meeting.
“Since the aggression of Russia to Ukraine, the security situation here in Europe and the security situation in the Pacific are not separable,” he said as he came to the meeting.
Hayashi said that challenges like the invasion of Ukraine could occur in other parts of the world and that the international order, which has “underpinned our peace and prosperity, could be fundamentally overturned.”
The Japanese official reiterated Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s vow to Ukraine when he visited Kyiv in March, stating that Japan wholeheartedly supports the Ukrainians in their fight against Russia.
Officials from Beijing, however, have taken a different approach throughout the conflict, declaring themselves neutral while announcing a “no limits” relationship with Moscow and blaming America and NATO for provoking the War. Chinese President Xi Jinping met Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow, vowing to strengthen relations between Moscow and Beijing against the West amid international scrutiny.
The Japanese Foreign Minister accused China of “continuing and intensifying its unilateral attempts” to change the status quo in the East and South China seas by force and increasing its military activities around Taiwan.”
Hayashi told his European colleagues that Moscow and Beijing are “strengthening their military collaboration, including joint flights of their bombers and joint naval exercises in the vicinity of Japan.”
The Japanese Foreign Minister also warned that North Korea was increasing provocations in Asia by engaging in ballistic missile launches, “strengthening their military collaboration, including flying their bombers and performing naval exercises in the vicinity of Japan.”
Other Indo-Pacific countries like India and Pakistan called for an end to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but have not condemned Moscow for its aggression. Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar stated that officials tried to address the situation “in our own different ways.” “I think a lesson a country like Pakistan has learned is that percolation of conflict is never the answer; that we want an end to hostilities, an end to the conflict, so people can go back to building lives rather than destroying more lives,” Khar said.
Asked how the E.U. hoped to convince Indo-Pacific Countries to ally with Europe against Russia and defend Ukraine, E.U. Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell stated the Union did not “want to convince anyone.” Borrell went on to say that the E.U. wanted to “share our analysis of the causes and consequences of the war.”
Regarding China, Borrell said that the E.U. had plenty of other opportunities to address Beijing. “We can perfectly discuss the Indo-Pacific without China,” Borrell told reporters. It does not mean we neglect China. It does not mean we want to substitute China. I do not see where the problem is,” the E.U. Foreign Policy Chief said.
With China continuing to strengthen its military presence in the South China Sea, Japan and other Asian countries are sounding the alarm about Beijing’s military growth, relying on the United States for military weaponry should China invade the island-state of Taiwan.