Russia-China Unity Hindering International Cooperation

It must be said that China, while appearing to advocate a solution to the Ukraine crisis, has made its true intention clear: It supports Russia, the aggressor, after all. The united front presented by Russia and China is hampering international cooperation and cannot be tolerated.

The foreign ministers of the Group of 20 major countries and regions met in India. The G20 was unable to adopt a joint communique because of opposition from Russia and China over language concerning the invasion of Ukraine.

In addition to the United States, Europe, Japan, Russia and China, the G20 also includes emerging countries such as India and Brazil. The G20 is a framework for discussing economic and global issues that is meant to transcend differences in political systems, but the latest meeting ended up exposing division and the decline of its function.

The declaration adopted at the G20 summit last November stated that “Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine” and referred to the negative impact of the invasion on the global economy, compliance with international law and opposition to the use of nuclear weapons, among other things.

However, Russia and China reportedly refused to allow these items to be included in the joint communique this time. It is hard to understand why they would overturn what had been agreed upon at the summit level.

China recently released a document that appeared to encourage peace in Ukraine, proposing respect for sovereignty, a ceasefire and peace negotiations, as well as stating opposition to the use of nuclear weapons, among other things.

This time, China sided with Russia to block the agreement on the joint communique, a lot of which is consistent with G20 summit declaration. It probably wanted to avoid isolating Russia on the international stage and prevent the United States, Europe and Japan from taking the initiative. The position of China, which says it desires peace, appears to be nothing more than a bluff.

On the other hand, the fact that Russia and China were the only countries to oppose the joint communique clearly indicates that both developed and emerging countries are united in their opposition to aggression, albeit with varying degrees of intensity. Russia and China are trying to divide developed and emerging countries. Such diplomatic warfare must be dealt with.

For emerging and developing countries, rising food and energy prices are a serious problem that could shake their governments. This makes it easier for Russian and Chinese propaganda efforts to make inroads by shifting the blame to Western sanctions against Russia and support for Ukraine.

India, the G20 chair, regards itself as a leader of emerging and developing countries and emphasizes multilateralism. If that is the case, India must be stricter with Russia, which tramples on the U.N. Charter and international law, and also China, which sides with Russia.

Japan failed to make its presence felt because Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi skipped the meeting because of Diet commitments. Hayashi’s absence, which could be perceived in other countries as a disregard for the G20, clearly undermined Japan’s national interests.

The government and the ruling and opposition parties should seriously reflect on the mistake and ensure that such a situation never occurs again.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 4, 2023)