US and China Clash Over Japan and Russia Amid Ukraine Invasion

Commentary China and the United States, along with Russia and Japan, are members of APEC and the G-20, with the current geopolitical climate threatening the cohesion of both groups, presenting several flashpoints for a potential war. Last November, China’s Defense Ministry condemned a visit by a U.S. congressional delegation to Taiwan, an APEC member. In reaction, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conducted a combat readiness patrol near the Taiwan Strait on Nov. 9. Ironically, three days later, at the APEC summit, Chinese leader Xi Jinping warned that the world should not return to a “Cold War mentality.” This year’s APEC meeting will be held in Thailand’s capital Bangkok on Nov. 18 and 19. The leaders expected to attend include Xi, President Joe Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin, a minister from Japan, and a representative from Taiwan. The theme “Open. Connect. Balance” will be threatened by the dynamic between U.S. allies on one side and Russia and China on the other. APEC countries with joint ventures in Russia are pressured to dissolve their Russian partnerships. Malaysia’s national oil and gas company Petronas has a contract with Russia, as does Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor special development zone. Meanwhile, the tourism sectors of Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam—already struggling due to China’s “zero-COVID” regimen—are now stuck with countless Russian tourists who have no money, no ATM access, and no flights home. Other APEC members Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, and the United States are expected to oppose Russia’s continued participation, while China is likely to back Russia’s membership. Tensions between the United States and China sidelined the 2018 APEC summit in Papua New Guinea. This year’s meeting is expected to be even more heated due to the Ukraine invasion. Earlier this year, Russia and China announced their intention to use the APEC to launch a regional fair trade and investment environment. Since then, Russia has blacklisted eight APEC members—the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and New Zealand—who opposed Russia’s Ukraine invasion. Russia has also issued a list of “unfriendly nations” that must now accept payment in rubles. These include Albania, Andorra, Australia, Great Britain, Jersey, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Gibraltar, European Union member states, Iceland, Canada, Liechtenstein, Micronesia, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, San Marino, North Macedonia, Singapore, the United States, Taiwan, Ukraine, Montenegro, Switzerland, and Japan. It seems that Russia is determined to isolate itself, and China is one of the few countries supporting it. A Russian border guards’ tower is seen on Kunashir Island, one of the disputed Kuril Islands that are claimed by both Japan and Russia, in this undated file photo. (AP Photo) In response to the Ukraine invasion, Japan has brought sanctions against Russia, including freezing the assets of oligarchs, prompting Russia to formally end World War II peace talks with Japan. After the war, Russia and Japan never officially ended hostilities nor agreed on distributing disputed territories. Their negotiations have been thwarted by Russia’s reaction to Japanese sanctions regarding the Ukraine invasion. Russia has also dismissed continued talks regarding the disputed islands called the Northern Territories by Tokyo and the Southern Kurils by Russia. After the peace agreement was signed, Russia agreed to hand over two islands—Habomai and Shikotan—to Japan. But now, it seems neither the peace agreement nor the handover will move forward. Additionally, Russia has also stated that it would not extend Japan’s status as a partner in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation framework. Last year, a Russian incursion into Japanese territory near the islands caused Japan to scramble jets. The Chinese regime also regularly violates Japanese territory around the Senkaku Islands, with Chinese and Japanese ships staring each other down. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) even passed a law allowing its coast guard to use force in waters that China claims. For the Party, this includes Senkaku Islands. The United States is treaty-bound to defend all Japanese-administered territory, with the U.S. commitment extending to the Senkaku Islands as they are under Japanese administration. This puts the United States and China on one more path, leading to war. The United States is not treaty-bound to defend the Kuril Islands, but if Japan and Russia fought over their disputed claims, the United States could easily get sucked in. The U.S. threat of secondary sanctions against China for helping Russia has alarmed other Asian countries such as Indonesia and Thailand. They do not wish to get caught in the middle. A spokesperson for the Thai military reminded APEC members that Russia is also threatening sanctions. So far, Russia has sanctioned eight APEC members and warned that

US and China Clash Over Japan and Russia Amid Ukraine Invasion

Commentary

China and the United States, along with Russia and Japan, are members of APEC and the G-20, with the current geopolitical climate threatening the cohesion of both groups, presenting several flashpoints for a potential war.

Last November, China’s Defense Ministry condemned a visit by a U.S. congressional delegation to Taiwan, an APEC member. In reaction, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conducted a combat readiness patrol near the Taiwan Strait on Nov. 9. Ironically, three days later, at the APEC summit, Chinese leader Xi Jinping warned that the world should not return to a “Cold War mentality.”

This year’s APEC meeting will be held in Thailand’s capital Bangkok on Nov. 18 and 19. The leaders expected to attend include Xi, President Joe Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin, a minister from Japan, and a representative from Taiwan. The theme “Open. Connect. Balance” will be threatened by the dynamic between U.S. allies on one side and Russia and China on the other.

APEC countries with joint ventures in Russia are pressured to dissolve their Russian partnerships. Malaysia’s national oil and gas company Petronas has a contract with Russia, as does Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor special development zone. Meanwhile, the tourism sectors of Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam—already struggling due to China’s “zero-COVID” regimen—are now stuck with countless Russian tourists who have no money, no ATM access, and no flights home.

Other APEC members Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, and the United States are expected to oppose Russia’s continued participation, while China is likely to back Russia’s membership. Tensions between the United States and China sidelined the 2018 APEC summit in Papua New Guinea. This year’s meeting is expected to be even more heated due to the Ukraine invasion.

Earlier this year, Russia and China announced their intention to use the APEC to launch a regional fair trade and investment environment. Since then, Russia has blacklisted eight APEC members—the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and New Zealand—who opposed Russia’s Ukraine invasion.

Russia has also issued a list of “unfriendly nations” that must now accept payment in rubles. These include Albania, Andorra, Australia, Great Britain, Jersey, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Gibraltar, European Union member states, Iceland, Canada, Liechtenstein, Micronesia, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, San Marino, North Macedonia, Singapore, the United States, Taiwan, Ukraine, Montenegro, Switzerland, and Japan.

It seems that Russia is determined to isolate itself, and China is one of the few countries supporting it.

Epoch Times Photo
A Russian border guards’ tower is seen on Kunashir Island, one of the disputed Kuril Islands that are claimed by both Japan and Russia, in this undated file photo. (AP Photo)

In response to the Ukraine invasion, Japan has brought sanctions against Russia, including freezing the assets of oligarchs, prompting Russia to formally end World War II peace talks with Japan. After the war, Russia and Japan never officially ended hostilities nor agreed on distributing disputed territories.

Their negotiations have been thwarted by Russia’s reaction to Japanese sanctions regarding the Ukraine invasion. Russia has also dismissed continued talks regarding the disputed islands called the Northern Territories by Tokyo and the Southern Kurils by Russia. After the peace agreement was signed, Russia agreed to hand over two islands—Habomai and Shikotan—to Japan. But now, it seems neither the peace agreement nor the handover will move forward. Additionally, Russia has also stated that it would not extend Japan’s status as a partner in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation framework.

Last year, a Russian incursion into Japanese territory near the islands caused Japan to scramble jets.

The Chinese regime also regularly violates Japanese territory around the Senkaku Islands, with Chinese and Japanese ships staring each other down. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) even passed a law allowing its coast guard to use force in waters that China claims. For the Party, this includes Senkaku Islands.

The United States is treaty-bound to defend all Japanese-administered territory, with the U.S. commitment extending to the Senkaku Islands as they are under Japanese administration. This puts the United States and China on one more path, leading to war. The United States is not treaty-bound to defend the Kuril Islands, but if Japan and Russia fought over their disputed claims, the United States could easily get sucked in.

The U.S. threat of secondary sanctions against China for helping Russia has alarmed other Asian countries such as Indonesia and Thailand. They do not wish to get caught in the middle. A spokesperson for the Thai military reminded APEC members that Russia is also threatening sanctions. So far, Russia has sanctioned eight APEC members and warned that more sanctions are coming.

The United States and its allies are also considering barring Russia from the next G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, on Nov. 15 and 16. China, however, is backing Russia to remain in the group. Russia’s attendance will most likely have to be voted on, which means some countries may boycott rather than be forced to decide. Additionally, the vote could face a veto.

Meanwhile, Poland approached the United States about taking Russia’s place, demonstrating how coalitions are forming, with allies in Asia and Europe choosing sides.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Antonio Graceffo, Ph.D., has spent more than 20 years in Asia. He is a graduate of the Shanghai University of Sport and holds a China-MBA from Shanghai Jiaotong University. Graceffo works as an economics professor and China economic analyst, writing for various international media. Some of his books on China include "Beyond the Belt and Road: China’s Global Economic Expansion" and "A Short Course on the Chinese Economy."