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(Opinion) Abe Heads to G-7 With South China Sea, Asian Security on His Mind

2015-06-08 08:46:32       source:The Diplomat

By Ankit Panda

June 8, 2015

"On Sunday, leaders from the Group of Seven (G-7) arrived in Germany, where they will meet to discuss global issues for two days. The G-7 comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, in addition to the European Union. For Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the G-7 presents an important forum for conveying Japan's concerns about regional security in the Asia-Pacific to a like-minded group of Western industrialized nations. As the Japan Times notes, at the top of Abe's agenda for the G-7 will be China's ongoing island-building and so-called land reclamation activities in the South China Sea. As Abe told reporters in Japan before his departure, he will emphasize Japan’s role as the sole 'G-7 member from Asia' and push for 'substantial discussions on Asian affairs.'

Over the past 18 months, China has completed considerable reclamation work on various disputed reefs and rocks in the South China Sea, in both the Spratly and Paracel Islands. China and Japan additionally dispute the sovereignty of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, where China, in late 2013, declared an air defense identification zone (ADIZ). At the G-7, Abe is expected to draw an analogy that Western states are likely to appreciate; he will liken China's activities in the South China Sea to Russia's annexation of Crimea in early 2014. The message will be clear: if the world doesn't react, China could spark a longer-term geopolitical crisis in Asia. He will further urge China to behave in accordance with international law: the Philippines, a U.S. ally and Japanese partner, has pending case against China's activities in the South China Sea at the Permanent Court of Arbitration that will move on to oral arguments next month. China has said it does not accept international arbitration over the South China Sea. Japan, while not a claimant in the South China Sea, has been watching events there with great interest in recent months."

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