G7 diplomats grapple with crises in Ukraine, China and North Korea

TOKYO – Russian threats to bomb Ukraine. The belligerent Chinese army moves around rival Taiwan. North Korea’s series of unprecedented missile tests.

Senior diplomats from some of the world’s most powerful democracies will have plenty to discuss when they gather at the Karuizawa hot spring resort on Sunday for the so-called Group of Seven foreign ministers’ meeting.

Some believe that with the weakening of the United Nations, amid Russian and Chinese intransigence in the Security Council, global forums like the G7 are even more important. But there is also considerable doubt that diplomats in predominantly Western democracies can find ways to influence, let alone stop, authoritarian nations that are increasingly willing to use violence, or its threat, to pursue their interests.

In addition to global hotspots, foreign ministers from Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Italy and the European Union are expected to discuss ways to improve human rights and democracy, as well as issues important to poorer countries that may feel underrepresented by the focus on wealthy countries with stable governments.

The agenda, however, will be dominated by concerns about Russia, China and North Korea, and an awareness of the undoubted interdependence of these and other foreign policy issues.

This year’s G7 meetings are the most important in the gathering’s history, given the urgent need to end Russia’s war in Ukraine and stop a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan, according to Yuichi Hosoya , professor of international politics at Keio University in Japan.

With the stakes so high, here’s a look at what diplomats will face in the talks that wrap up on Tuesday:



A broad focus on nuclear issues was always going to be important at this year’s G7 talks, culminating in a top leaders’ summit next month in Hiroshima, the target of the first nuclear bomb used in the war.

The issue is more pressing amid fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin, as he grows desperate over setbacks in Ukraine, could use a tactical nuclear weapon to win the war.

China is seen as one of the few nations with the potential to influence Russia’s moves in Ukraine, and foreign policy alignment between the world’s two largest autocracies will be a major goal in Karuizawa.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who seems increasingly emboldened to continue his authoritarian impulses, recently visited Moscow and pledged to deepen bilateral relations. It “cast a shadow over hopes that Beijing would pressure Putin to reduce (his) conflict”, according to Stephen Nagy, an Asia expert at the International Christian University in Tokyo.

During his visit to Beijing this month, French President Emmanuel Macron called on Xi to “bring Russia to its senses” but received only a lukewarm response and additional calls for a political resolution.

Japan could use the G7 to announce a boost to its already substantial support for Ukraine, said Jeffrey Hall, senior lecturer at Kanda University of International Studies.

“Japanese leaders view cooperation on security issues related to Ukraine as a possible path to greater security cooperation in the Pacific,” Hall said.



China’s increasingly bold attempts to bully self-governing Taiwan were on full display when Beijing recently sent planes and ships to carry out a mock encirclement of the island, which China claims as its territory. China’s vast military expansion, including a rapid leapfrogging of its nuclear warheads, a tougher line on its claim to the South China Sea and Xi’s recent statements painting a scenario of imminent confrontation have galvanized fears among countries of the G7.

Beijing and Pyongyang are particularly worried about Japan’s military expansion, which they see as an attempt “to weaken the two capitals’ efforts to rewrite the regional security architecture in their favor”, Nagy said.

Under Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Tokyo made a major break with its principles of self-defense after World War II, seeking to acquire pre-emptive strike capabilities and cruise missiles to counter growing threats from South Korea. North, China and Russia.

As the G7 considers ways to manage China’s rise, Beijing is strengthening relations with countries from Pakistan to Argentina hungry for trade and investment. This will massively expand China’s global footprint and challenge North American and European attempts to link investment to good governance and respect for human rights.

Kishida’s decision to invite Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the leaders’ summit next month “signals Japan’s willingness to strengthen security cooperation with one of China’s rivals.” When Japan calls for a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’, it calls on nations to oppose the way China and Russia behave internationally,” Hall said. ___


This year’s G7 talks are crucial in revitalizing diplomacy aimed at pressuring a hostile North Korea to resume disarmament talks, especially with a dysfunctional UN Security Council divided among members. permanent, according to Park Won Gon, a professor at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

Since last year, North Korea has tested around 100 missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles that have shown the potential to reach the American mainland and a variety of other shorter-range weapons that threaten South Korea. and Japan.

Leader Kim Jong Un may seek to use the global distraction of Russia’s war against Ukraine to develop a nuclear arsenal that he sees as the best guarantee of his family’s dynastic regime.

Last year, Beijing and Moscow blocked a US-led campaign to tighten Security Council sanctions against North Korea for its major missile tests.

The Security Council is unlikely to toughen sanctions even if North Korea conducts what would be its first nuclear test since 2017. But a significant punitive response could be generated by a web of unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States. , its allies and “like-” European partners met at the G7, a tact similar to the way Washington is pressuring Moscow for its aggression in Ukraine,” Park said.

“The importance of the G7 has been greatly enhanced because it is obvious that the role and function of the UN Security Council is being unraveled by Russia and China and there is a need to find something new for the replace,” Park said.


AP writers Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this story.

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