“China is a Central Challenge”: Japan and Canada PMs

by EditorL

Japanese Primer Minister Fumio Kishida and Canadian Prime Minister held a joint press conference at the National Arts Centre after their official meeting on January 12, 2023 in Ottawa of Canada. (NTDTV)

Limin Zhou

Chinese Communist Party’s aggression in the Info-Pacific region appear to be a top priority for the Japanese Prime Minister, who is actively seeking allies from the other G7 countries, including Canada, to oppose the threat from the communist China in the region.

During the joint press conference after Japanese leader Fumio Kishida’s official meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau in Ottawa last Thursday, Kishida said that “Japan’s national security strategy positions Communist China as the greatest strategic challenge,” and he understood that “for Japan and Canada, China is a central challenge”.

“We agreed that we would strongly oppose unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force in the eastern China Sea and the South China Sea”, Kishida said, apparently referencing the threat of the Chinese Communist regime in the region, “and with regard to various issues regarding China, that we would closely liaise and coordinate.”

Trudeau described Communist China as a “disruptive force” in the Indo-Pacific region, at the same media availability, with Kishida standing next to him, using relatively softer words when China is referenced.

“There are areas which we need to work with China. But there are other areas in which we’re going to have to compete with China, and other areas in which we’re going to have to directly contest China, whether it’s on human rights, whether it’s on respect for international rules and the rules-based order,” said Trudeau.

Kishida’s visit came two months after the Trudeau government signed on to Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy.

The phrase “Indo-Pacific” was conceived by the late former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in an effort to shift the world’s view of Asia away from “Asian Pacific”. The latter usually refers to east Asian with communist China at the center.

“Indo-Pacific” describes a “broader Asia” that contains both the Pacific and the Indian Ocean “that values freedom, the rule of law, and the market economy, free from force or coercion, and . . . prosperous,” in the words of the late Abe, who sought to outweigh the Chinese Communist regime’s tyranny in the region.

Abe’s idea was embraced by US and the Australia. The two countries each developed its own Indo-Pacific policy in 2017, with the view that communist China is a threat to the region. UK shaped its Indo-Pacific strategy in early 2021.

However, when the late Abe approached Trudeau with his vision of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” in 2019 at the Canada-Japan Summit, Trudeau’s response was reportedly not positive toward the concept. Trudeau government had already preferred “Asia Pacific,” which includes China.

Last October, one month prior to the release of Canada’s Indo-Pacific policy, when asked if the Canadian government view China or Russia  as the biggest threat in the world in an interview in Washington D.C., Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said that “We haven’t defined ourselves as an Indo-Pacific country since the beginning of our history. We’ve always invested a lot in the transatlantic relationship …”

Canada finally launched its new “Indo-Pacific Strategy” on November 27, 2022, stating the government’s concern over Chinese aggressive actions in the region.

“Our friend Shinzo is no longer with us but his vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific lives on,” Trudeau said at the lunch with the Japanese Prime Minister Kishida last week in Ottawa, “Canada remains deeply committed to being partners toward this goal.”

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