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Russia ‘most direct threat to world order’: EU’s von der Leyen

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Senior European officials warned Thursday that Russia poses the
Russia ‘most direct threat to world order’: EU’s von der Leyen

Senior European officials warned Thursday that Russia poses the “most direct threat” to the world order and urged China to play a more constructive role on the international stage during talks in Tokyo.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel are in Japan for talks that have touched on Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine, but also growing concerns about China‘s role in Asia and beyond.

Russia “is today the most direct threat to the world order with the barbaric war against Ukraine and its worrying pact with China,” von der Leyen said after talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

The annual summit comes with much of the international community gathering to put pressure on Moscow over Ukraine.

Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine is not just a European affair, it shakes the core of the international order, including Asia. This should not be tolerated,” said Kishida, whose government has joined tough sanctions against Moscow, including on energy.

Beijing’s increasingly strong stance in Asia was also on the agenda, with the EU seeking to take a more prominent role in the confrontation with China.

“Our cooperation in Ukraine is critical in Europe, but it is also important in the Indo-Pacific and we also want to deepen our consultation on a more assertive China,” Michel said.

China must stand up to defend the multilateral system that it has benefited from in the development of its country.”

Von der Leyen said the EU and Japan were stepping up cooperation, including launching a digital partnership that will focus on competitiveness and security.

He said the two sides would also work on supply chains, which have been disrupted by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, but also cause concern about China‘s role in chip production.

“There are materials and technologies that have become essential to our economy and our daily lives, like semiconductors, for example. We must be able to count on reliable supply chains,” he said.

– Investment in infrastructure –
Japan and the EU have been working to strengthen ties, including with a landmark 2019 trade deal, and Tokyo has broken with previous diplomatic posturing to take a tough stance on Ukraine.

He sanctioned Russian companies and officials, sent humanitarian and financial aid to Ukraine, and joined the G7 pledge to phase out or ban Russian oil.

However, Japan has not taken action on gas due to its reliance on energy imports.

Von der Leyen and Michel are scheduled to have a working lunch with Kishida later on Thursday, and Michel will visit Hiroshima on Friday.

Kishida said their discussions would include talk of tensions in the South and East China seas, where Tokyo fears Beijing is increasingly trying to reclaim disputed territory.

There are also longstanding fears about whether Beijing could move to seize control of Taiwan, which China claims and has vowed to eventually seize.

Michel said the two sides discussed “ways to boost our security and defense cooperation,” noting that Japan is the only Asian country specifically mentioned in the EU’s 2030 security and defense plan.

Von der Leyen also urged infrastructure cooperation in the region, in a veiled reference to Beijing, which has sought to cement alliances in the region and beyond with projects sometimes criticized as debt traps.

“Investment needs are huge and options are limited. Very often they come at a price that no country should have to pay, such as encroachments on their sovereignty,” she said.

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