NEW YORK/TOKYO — Just five years ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping was digging into a basket of fish and chips and enjoying a pint of beer with then-U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron at the latter’s “local” near his countryside residence of Chequers. Along with the iconic images from England came the announcement of a new “golden era” of Sino-British ties.
Xi was also expected to make his first visit to Japan as a state guest this April, while the famed cherry blossoms were in full bloom, before COVID-19 disrupted plans.
But this week, meetings in London between Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab signaled the different direction that the two countries are taking in securing the Indo-Pacific region, and in dealing with China in particular.
“Japan is a close friend of the U.K. and our key security partner in Asia,” Raab said in a statement issued Wednesday after he spoke with Motegi.
Both men shared “grave concerns” over the recent situation concerning the Hong Kong legislative elections, according to Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They affirmed that they will continue to closely coordinate against Chinese expansionism in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.