The Communist Party of China (CPC) is commemorating its 100th founding anniversary on July 1. How do the party members, particularly Xi Jinping, feel about this centenary and how do they look at the international and domestic situation as they mark this day?
Amid the intensifying U.S.-China rivalry, the Japanese and Western media tend to emphasize the “harsh reality” surrounding China on account of the human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and the suppression of freedoms in Hong Kong. However, the CPC’s propaganda machine invariably continues to tout the “excellent situation.”
“Thoroughly study and implement Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” The only other Chinese communist leader in history who enjoyed the honor of having national policies bear his own name was Mao Zedong. Even Deng Xiaoping never heard about the “Deng Xiaoping Theory” during his lifetime. Xi witnessed tears in the eyes of the masses who were mobilized to meet him on his inspection tours in the country. Such stage management can also be interpreted to mean that the supreme leader has already become an “emperor in his new clothes.” However, at this point, the Chinese people know that China is one of the countries that has nearly overcome the COVID epidemic (Xi actually declared the end of the epidemic on Sept. 8, 2020), and many of them are proud of their country and leaders for this. The leadership and the masses are actually in a resonant relationship. China’s tough domestic and foreign policies that we (mainly the advanced Western countries and their people) often criticize actually enjoy the support of its people to a considerable extent, like the title of the country’s propaganda film “Amazing, My Country.”
The speeches by Vice President Mike Pence (on Oct. 24, 2019) and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (July 23, 2020) under the Trump administration must have sounded to Xi like a “declaration of defeat” of the U.S. engagement policy toward China so far. Furthermore, despite the criticism of the U.S. and others, the National Security Law took effect in Hong Kong (on June 30, 2020), bringing “stability on par with the mainland.” “We were proven right.”
With Japan’s and the U.S.’s policy toward China in the short-term becoming clearer through summits and other events, what is the Xi Jinping leadership’s perception of the international situation that will guide its diplomacy? This article offers observations mainly from the remarks and actions of the top leaders and diplomats of Japan, the U.S., and China, along with the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokespersons’ statements in reaction to them.
1. Brimming with Confidence
Foreign policy is the extension of domestic politics. An overview of China’s diplomacy in the Xi Jinping era demonstrates once again the validity of this statement.
The ultimate goal of Xi Jinping as the leader is to work for the indefinite perpetuation of the CPC regime through the concentration of power on himself. New party rules were introduced requiring members of the Central Committee’s Political Bureau to submit a written annual report on their activities to the general secretary and giving the general secretary sole power to decide the agenda of various meetings of the party center. This is precisely the “stability” that Xi is seeking. He wants to use physical power consisting of economic and military power to build a new world order based not on Western values, but on Chinese ones. Inasmuch as the CPC still embraces historical materialism despite the significant transformation of China’s “socialist” reality, it naturally retains such ideology on the human development process. His take on the present situation is probably that “in the eight years and six months since he assumed the position of general secretary, China has been moving closer to the world’s center stage than any other time in history.”
Such “confidence” is backed by the following policies and propaganda, as well as actual achievements.
The CPC leadership gives special emphasis to propaganda on China’s “systemic superiority” under the “leadership” of the CPC. The 4th Plenum of the 19th Central Committee adopted a “decision on some major issues concerning how to uphold and improve the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and advance the modernization of China's system and capacity for governance” in late October 2019. At the heart of this decision is “confidence in and resolute support for the present regime.” This decision fleshed out Xi’s following remarks to the first meeting of the 19th Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms on Nov. 20, 2017: “Regardless of the substance and extent of reform, the policy of upholding the party’s centralized and unified leadership in reform must not change; the overall goal of improving and developing a socialist system with Chinese characteristics and advancing the modernization of China's governance system and capacity for governance must not change; and the policy of upholding people-centered reform values must not change.”
On the other hand, the goal to double the GDP and the per capita income of urban and rural residents by 2020” (announced in Hu Jintao’s speech at the opening of the 18th CPC National Party Congress on Nov. 8, 2012) has not been achieved, partly due to the impact of the COVID epidemic. While the Xi Jinping leadership has never mentioned the failure to fulfill this pledge, it is emphasizing the “miracle” of poverty eradication instead. Xi declared proudly at the National Poverty Alleviation Summary and Commendation Conference on Feb. 25, 2021: “Today, we solemnly convened a meeting to solemnly declare that through the joint efforts of the whole party and the people of all ethnic groups in the country, at the important moment of ushering in the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, my country has won a comprehensive victory in the fight against poverty. The arduous task of eliminating absolute poverty has been completed and another miracle has been created in history.” Recent Chinese media reports tend to stress that this was a miracle achieved through the party’s leadership.
This success story at home is reflected in foreign affairs in the phrase “rise of the east, decline of the west.” This is probably Xi Jinping’s version of what Mao Zedong said in 1957 during the East-West Cold War: “The east wind is prevailing over the west wind.” The notion of “rise of the east, decline of the west” began to appear sporadically in 2014 but Xi Jinping himself is said to have begun using this in his speech to the 5th Plenum of the 19th Central Committee in October 2019 and in a speech to governors and ministerial level senior cadres last January, where he reportedly stated: “‘West is strong and east is weak’ is history, while ‘rise of the east and decline of the west’ is the future.” This worldview of Xi, which also appears to be meant for self-inspiration amid the deepening U.S.-China conflict, is given concrete shape, for instance, by Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s energetic overseas visits. Soon after the start of 2021, Wang visited five African countries (Nigeria, Congo, Botswana, Tanzania, and Seychelle, Jan. 4-9) and four ASEAN countries (Myanmar, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines, Jan. 11-16). He stressed the key concepts of “Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy” – “human community with a shared future,” “one belt, one road,” “multilateralism,” and so forth -- and engaged in vaccine diplomacy.
As the CPC approaches its centenary under the “excellent” domestic and international situation, the Democratic Biden administration was inaugurated on Jan. 20 amid China’s rivalry with the U.S. Xi Jinping was probably not very happy that although Biden held teleconferences with many world leaders, a U.S.-China summit did not take place. Their first teleconference was finally set on Feb. 11, which fell on the lunar New Year’s Eve. The fact that this summit meeting managed to make the top news on the Chinese New Year’s Day attests to Xi’s success in his effort to enhance his prestige at home. The state-run Xinhua News Agency and other Chinese media outlets played up the two leaders’ agreement to work on improving bilateral relations, reporting that “Mr. Biden extended his New Year greetings to the Chinese people.” Nevertheless, even amid this friendly atmosphere, Xi did not fail to assert that, “Issues relating to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang are China’s internal affairs and are matters concerning its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The U.S. side must respect China’s core interests and exercise restraint in its actions.”
2. Strong Reaction to Rejection of Overtures
The new U.S. administration’s position on China became much clearer in March, and this was disappointing to the Xi Jinping leadership. The following sections look at China’s response and reaction to the U.S., the Japan-U.S. alliance, and Japan from March to April, when the Biden administration began to clarify its foreign policy posture.
On March 3, President Biden released the Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, in which he designated China as the “only competitor” capable of mounting a sustained challenge to the international system. Secretary of State Blinken also termed China the “biggest geopolitical test” in his foreign policy speech on the same day. The Interim Guidance seeks to focus U.S. military presence in the Indo-Pacific and Europe and strengthen the alliances with NATO, Australia, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.
At first, even though China was wary, its reaction to this U.S. posture was basically reasonable. When asked to comment on Blinken’s speech at a regular press conference on March 4, the Foreign Ministry spokesman merely reconfirmed China’s longstanding policy toward the U.S. First, on the subject of international order, he criticized “hegemonism” and “Cold War mentality,” stating: “China always upholds the UN-centered international system, and the international order we firmly safeguard is the one founded on international law, not the one defined by some countries for the purpose of holding onto their hegemony. We are living in the era of globalization. No one and no country will end well by forming ideology-driven cliques to target others.” Going on to U.S.-China relations, he said: “Disagreements can be controlled and managed…and win-win results achieved as long as we have mutual respect and equal treatment,” thus indicating China’s hope to build good relations with the U.S. However, regarding the issues of Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and trade, he reiterated that “China’s positions are consistent and clear” and “China will continue to firmly safeguard its national sovereignty, security, and development interests.”
However, the first U.S.-China meeting of top diplomats (on the U.S. side: Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan; on the Chinese side: Yang Jiechi, director of the CPC’s Central Foreign Affairs Commission, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi) in Alaska on March 18-19 kicked off in a hostile atmosphere. This was because Blinken’s series of diplomatic activities in the run-up to this meeting (see next section) further underscored the new U.S. administration’s confrontational posture toward China.
The Chinese side condemned the U.S. throughout the meeting. Its criticisms mainly concerned four areas: view of the international order (“I don't think the overwhelming majority of countries in the world would recognize that the universal values advocated by the United States could represent international values”); conflict resolution method (“The U.S. is prone to use force”); human rights and democracy (“The U.S. is the one with numerous human rights issues at home”); and interference in internal affairs (“China is firmly opposed to U.S. interference in its internal affairs, such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang”) Nevertheless, although it lashed out at the U.S., the Chinese side still maintained that the meeting was “candid, constructive, helpful, and conducive to enhancing mutual understanding.” This indicates that China also recognizes that it can benefit to a certain extent from the existing international order and rules based on Western values, so it has decided that it does not want an irrevocably confrontational U.S.-China relationship. Moreover, the Chinese side’s emotional outburst can also be interpreted to be a form of performance meant for the domestic audience in response to the U.S. side’s statements, which could also be seen as criticism of Xi Jinping.
On April 17, Renmin Ribao carried a report critical of the U.S. entitled “Facts on U.S. breaching international rules.” This report was probably the most extensive criticism of U.S. foreign policy so far. It cited various examples to accuse the U.S. of “interference in other countries’ internal affairs,” “violations of international rules,” “unilateral bullying & sanctions,” “putting America first,” and “double standards in human rights,” although most of these concerned the previous Trump administration. Since the Biden administration is still new, China’s refraining from direct criticism of the new administration also reflects some scruples on its part.
3. Strengthening the Anti-U.S. United Front
After announcing the U.S.’s China policy on March 3, Biden and Blinken immediately set out to act on this policy. Biden attended the online summit of the leaders of the Quad nations (U.S., Japan, Australia, and India) on March 12, while Blinken came to Tokyo for the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (2+2) meeting of foreign and defense ministers on March 16, going on to Seoul for a U.S.-ROK 2+2 on March 18. He then visited Brussels for the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting on March 23. Blinken also took the lead in issuing the “G7 Foreign Ministers’ Statement on Hong Kong Electoral Changes” on March 13.
The faster the U.S. moved and the stronger the message it sent out only attests to the success of the Xi Jinping leadership’s “strong China” policy, since this pointed to the nervousness of the Biden administration, which criticizes China’s “autocratic system.” However, China was now under pressure to come up with policies to counter the new U.S. policy to strengthen relations with its allies and partners. It opted for strengthening the anti-U.S. united front.
China must have made meticulous preparations. Blinken’s counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, lost no time in launching his counteroffensive.
This started with a China visit by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of Russia, with whom China claims to have “the best relations ever in history.” At the meetings held on March 22-23 in scenic Guilin, Wang Yi stated: “The so-called ‘rules-based international order’ by a few countries is not clear in its meaning, as it reflects the rules of a few countries and does not represent the will of the international community.” This was a criticism directed at the U.S. regarding human rights issues in Xinjiang, which the U.S. and Western countries claimed to amount to a “genocide.” Wang asserted that, “Over 80 countries made joint or separate statements to express their solidarity with and support for China's legitimate position in Xinjiang-related issues,” thus touting the numerical superiority to rebuff the U.S.
Immediately after the China-Russia foreign ministerial, Wang visited the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman), where U.S. influence has plunged significantly in recent years, from March 24-30 to seek support for China. At an interview held after the visit, Wang criticized the “major powers’ interference in internal affairs of other countries.” He stated: “China supports countries in the region (Middle East) to break free from the shadows of big-power geopolitical rivalry, resolve regional conflicts and differences as masters of the region, and build a security architecture that accommodates the legitimate concerns of all sides... We agreed that we must resist the imposition of ideology and oppose interference in other countries’ internal affairs in the name of human rights.”
Subsequently, Wang invited the foreign ministers of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and South Korea to Fujian Province in southern China for separate meetings from March 31 to April 3. Wang criticized the U.S. by name in an interview summing up these meetings with the “five peripheral countries.” He said: “While the U.S. has been putting forward arguments of competition, cooperation and confrontation repeatedly on its relations with China, our position has been consistent and clear,” pointing out that China “welcomes cooperation,” “will not avoid competition,” and “will be unperturbed by confrontation,” thus demonstrating that it firmly opposes “blatant interference in China’s internal affairs” and “illegal unilateral sanctions.”
While it is necessary to be cautious in “drawing lines,” it would appear that Russia, the Middle East, ASEAN, and the ROK are China’s main targets in expanding its sphere of influence. In addition, the usual destinations of the foreign minister for his first overseas visits in the new year, Africa (mentioned earlier) and Central and Eastern Europe (Xi Jinping hosted an online China-Central and Eastern Europe Summit on Feb. 9), are also included.
4. Counterattack on the Japan-U.S. Alliance
The Biden administration has taken steps to strengthen its alliance relationship with Japan to gain an advantage in its diplomatic war with China, its “only competitor.”
The Japanese and U.S. governments held a 2+2 meeting in Tokyo on March 16. In the overview of the meeting, the four ministers acknowledged that “China’s behavior, where inconsistent with the existing international order, presents political, economic, military, and technological challenges to the Alliance and to the international community. The Ministers committed to opposing coercion and destabilizing behavior toward others in the region, which undermines the rules-based international system,” thereby criticizing China by name. In separate discussions, they also voiced concern or opposition on issues relating to the East China Sea, South China Sea, the Taiwan Strait, Hong Kong, and Uygur that China deems to be its “core interests” and is expected to react strongly to.
Unsurprisingly, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson took issue with Japan and the U.S. at his regular news conference on the next day, March 17. Regarding the overview, he voiced the following criticism: “The US-Japan joint statement maliciously attacks China's foreign policy, flagrantly interferes in China's domestic affairs, and attempts to harm China's interests. We deplore and reject it... The US and Japan are not entitled to define what the international order is, still less to impose their standard on others.” Commenting on the Japan-U.S. alliance, he said: “The United States and Japan, stuck in the Cold-War mentality, deliberately seek bloc confrontation and attempt to form an anti-China circle. This runs counter to the trend of our times and the aspiration for peace, development and cooperation shared by the region and the vast majority of countries in the world.”
One month later on April 16, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and President Biden held their first summit meeting in Washington, issuing a joint statement on “U.S.-Japan Global Partnership for a New Era.” While the overall tone of this document reflected a tough stance on China, it also took care not to provoke China unnecessarily. For example, when taking up the Taiwan issue, it avoided using the term “Taiwan,” which would be seen by China as unacceptable interference in its internal affairs, but used the expression “Taiwan Strait,” following the example of the earlier 2+2. A passage on “encouraging the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues” was also added. On the human rights issues in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, the two countries noted “the importance of candid conversations with China.”
It can be said that China’s negative reaction was within the bounds of what was expected, as if judging that the Japan-U.S. stance on China was unlikely to become any harsher after the 2+2. First, the spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in the U.S. issued the following statement: “These comments have gone far beyond the scope of normal development of bilateral relations. They are harmful to the interests of a third party, to mutual understanding and trust between regional countries, and to peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific. It cannot be more ironic that such attempt of stoking division and building blocs against other countries is put under the banner of ‘free and open.’ The scheme of the U.S. and Japan goes against the trend of the times and the will of people in the region. Though it is designed to undermine others, it will only end up hurting themselves.” The Foreign Ministry spokesman also gave the following comments: “We urge the US and Japan to take China's concern seriously, abide by the one-China principle, and immediately stop meddling in China's domestic affairs and harming Chinese interests. China will take all necessary measures to firmly safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests.” This shows that the Taiwan issue is China’s greatest concern in the context of the Japan-U.S. alliance.
Naturally, President Biden demanded a corresponding “price” for choosing Prime Minister Suga for his first face-to-face summit meeting and demonstrating the “importance” of Japan. That is, Japan was expected to come up with a tougher policy on China.
5. Attempt to Sow Discord between Japan and U.S. through Pressure on “Vassal State Japan”
The Japan-China relationship, which had been at its lowest point since the normalization of diplomatic relations over the “nationalization” of the Senkaku Islands, has been on track to improvement since the APEC Beijing Summit in November 2014. On China’s part, this was mainly out of necessity for its economic development. Furthermore, after the inauguration of the Trump administration, for the benefit of its fight with the U.S. administration. However, after it became clear that the Biden administration is adopting a policy of prioritizing alliances and strengthening relations with Japan under the slogan of “democracy versus autocracy,” China became more suspicious of Japan, causing subtle but unmistakable changes in the trend toward improvement of bilateral ties. With Japan finding itself in the forefront of the Biden administration’s policy toward China, the Japan-China relationship has now entered a major period of adjustment.
Meanwhile, senior Japanese government officials made various remarks on pending issues between Japan and China. Commenting on the Senkaku Islands, the main sticking point, and China’s position on the South China Sea, Prime Minister Suga said that Japan is “strongly opposed to unilateral attempts to change the status quo” (at the Quad summit meeting on March 12), while Foreign Minister Motegi also voiced “serious concern” (at the Japan-China foreign ministers’ teleconference on April 5). Both Suga and Motegi expressed “grave concern” over China’s Coast Guard Law as well as the human rights situation in Xinjiang. With regard to the Hong Kong situation, Suga voiced “mounting concerns” and Motegi repeatedly expressed “strong concern.”
Naturally, China rebuffed these remarks in its statements, which conveyed its strong displeasure.
For example, at his teleconference with Foreign Minister Motegi, Wang Yi stated: “China hopes that Japan, as an independent country, will look at China's development in an objective and rational way, instead of being misled by some countries holding biased view against China. Japan has an alliance with the United States, but China and Japan have also signed the Japan-China Treaty of Peace and Friendship, so Japan also has the obligation to fulfill the treaty.” As a matter of fact, the Foreign Ministry spokesman had criticized Japan even more harshly on March 17. He said: “Japan, driven by the selfish aim to check China's revitalization, willingly stoops to acting as a strategic vassal of the United States, going so far as to break faith, harm relations with China, invite the wolf into the house, and betray the collective interests of the whole region. Such despicable behavior is deeply unpopular.” (underscore by the author) Again, after the Japan-U.S. summit on April 16, the spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Japan, in answer to a question from a reporter, stated: “Recently, Japan has been taking negative action on issues relating to China, seriously undermining political trust between the two countries and obstructing efforts on both sides to develop the bilateral relationship. We will abide by the principles of the four political documents and the relevant commitments between the two countries to ensure there will be no confusion, stagnation, or regression in the Japan-China relationship. We advise Japan not to be embroiled in confrontation between the great powers.” (underscore by the author)
Amid this situation, the problem of Japan’s disposal of treated nuclear contaminated water emerged as a new issue. In reaction to the Japanese government’s decision to release treated water from TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant into the ocean, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman voiced strong criticism that, “Despite doubts and opposition from home and abroad, Japan has unilaterally decided to release the Fukushima nuclear wastewater into the sea before exhausting all safe ways of disposal and without fully consulting with neighboring countries and the international community. This is highly irresponsible and will severely affect human health and the immediate interests of people in neighboring countries.” Later, this spokesman known to be a “wolf warrior diplomat” posted on his Twitter account a parody picture using “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa,” one of Katsushika Hokusai’s ukiyoe woodblock print series “Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji.” He changed Mt. Fuji into a nuclear plant and added men wearing protective suits on a boat pouring liquid that appears to be treated nuclear contaminated water from buckets into the sea. In the background is a cross implying people will die. He mocked Japan with an accompanying passage saying: “If Hokusai is still alive today, he would be very concerned.”
Is he going over the top in his eagerness to achieve the goal of sowing discord between Japan and the U.S.? There must have been many Japanese people who were deeply disappointed by this mean act (he claimed that this was China’s “official stance”) by someone who is supposed to be working for the development of international relations.
China is the no. 2 economic power in the world and the CPC is a vanguard party heralding historical materialism. Therefore, the current international order must eventually be replaced by an order based on the socialist values and historical view led by China as a major power. However, the U.S., which embraces different values, is still superior in national power, while China cannot also afford to overlook the benefits of the existing international order. Moreover, it will also be able to buy time for the advent of “China’s era.” For this reason, it is necessary to improve relations with the U.S.
The U.S. and China held a meeting of their special envoys for climate change issues in Shanghai on April 15-16, later issuing the “U.S.-China Joint Statement Addressing the Climate Crisis.” This is symbolic of China’s foreign policy of avoiding decisive confrontation with the U.S. and cooperating in areas where cooperation is possible, despite the Japan-U.S. summit taking place at the same time in Washington, which it termed “an act against popular will.” In a commentary marking the 50th anniversary of “ping pong diplomacy,” which was the historical turning point for the improvement of U.S.-China relations, Yang Jiechi stated: “China and the U.S. should aim at realizing a relationship of peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation, and this is fully possible.” This is a position that is understandable in the above context.
With the CPC celebrating its centenary and Beijing hosting the Winter Olympics next year, China will probably project an even stronger image of “confidence” in its foreign affairs posture. There is no doubt that China will continue to advance without hesitation on the path set by Xi Jinping using the “dynamic force formed by the nexus of authoritarianism, consumerism, global ambitions, and technology” as its weapon.
With Japan now occupying a more important position in the U.S.’s China policy, China will probably use pressure tactics on Japan. Even as prospects remain uncertain for Japan to overcome the COVID pandemic, developing a new diplomatic strategy against China cannot wait. It should firmly counter China’s tough stance by strengthening relations with countries and territories with which it shares democratic values and common economic and security interests. At the same time, Japan should expand the sphere of collaboration with China through joint efforts to respond to climate change issue, building complementary cooperative relations in third country markets, and other initiatives. It is hoped that a new horizon in the Japan-China relationship will emerge through a continuing correlative process of confrontation and collaboration.
(May 16, 2021)
1 This article will not discuss China’s slow response immediately after the outbreak of the epidemic and the responsibility for this.
2 “Amazing, My Country” or “Amazing China,” a documentary film glorifying the Xi Jinping regime first shown in China in March 2018.
4 “Leadership” is a unique terminology used by the vanguard party CPC, meaning “leading the people, non-communist party organizations, and others vigorously for the realization of a specific policy goal.”
6 “Speech at the National Poverty Alleviation Program Meeting,” Renmin Ribao, Feb. 26, 2021. Also, the claim that “poverty has been eradicated” is only valid mostly because this refers not to the whole country, but only to the rural areas; and not to individuals, but to communities. “Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau convenes meeting to receive report on the assessment of the poverty alleviation program, CPC Central Committee General Secretary presides over the meeting,” Renmin Ribao, Dec. 4, 2020.
9 “Join hands in forging closer China-Africa community sharing same destiny,” Renmin Ribao, Jan. 11, 2021; “Cooperate in promoting anti-epidemic solidarity of neighbors, open up new chapter in development cooperation,” Renmin Ribao, Jan. 18, 2021.
10 “Xi Jinping holds phone conversation with U.S. President Biden,” Renmin Ribao, Feb. 12, 2012.
20 It will now be more difficult for South Korea, whose foreign minister met with both his U.S. and Chinese counterparts, and the 15 countries belonging to both NATO and the China-Central and Eastern Europe Summit (only Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia are not NATO members) to deal with the U.S. and China. See Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Feb. 11, 2021 on recent changes in China’s relations with the Central and Eastern European countries. ASEAN, including Vietnam and Indonesia, which Prime Minister Suga visited last October (Indonesia also held a 2+2 with Japan in late March), is now also a target of the tug-of-war between Japan, the U.S., and China.