Nikkei has a fascinating report
on the geopolitical jostling in Asia. The Chinese are apparently worried about a burgeoning Anglo-Japanese alliance...
When China made a largely unexpected gambit just before Biden's inauguration to reach a basic agreement with the EU on an investment pact, it was hailed as a major diplomatic victory. The deal drove a wedge between the U.S. and Europe ahead of the incoming Biden administration.
But China overlooked one thing: The U.K. had already left the EU and was heading to Asia, China's own backyard.
Chinese foreign policy experts note that London's post-Brexit Asia policy could impede Beijing's Asia-Pacific strategy.
Some are alarmed by what they call a new "quasi-alliance" between the U.K. and Japan, which, in their eyes, hearkens back to the 1902-23 Anglo-Japanese Alliance that changed the dynamics of Asia.
"You should not forget that the old Anglo-Japanese Alliance not only was aimed at countering Russia, but also it had a hidden agenda of containing China's national rejuvenation," one expert said. "By joining forces with Japan again and forming a quasi-alliance, the U.K. is now trying to block China from making a leap forward."
Britain's departure from the European Union and pivot to Asia have been compared to an opposite movement that occurred in Meiji-era Japan. "Out of Asia and into Europe" was the slogan that captivated the Japanese in the late 19th century. Now London looks to be moving "Out of Europe and into Asia."
One foreign policy expert said the U.K.'s application to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership was a blow to Beijing. Now officially called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade pact is something China is seriously considering joining.
But see New Zealand as their secret weapon...
Yet China is not sitting idle in this period, a prelude to the tug of war over a new post-coronavirus international order.
"We are making a strategic move accordingly," one Chinese trade official said. "Holding the key is New Zealand."
China and New Zealand, a TPP member country, signed a deal in late January to upgrade their bilateral free trade agreement.
New Zealand is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance led by the U.S. Wellington also has kept its approach toward China largely in step with that of Australia, even as its neighbor remains locked in a fierce confrontation with Beijing.
But China has begun efforts to win over New Zealand regardless of that country's other partnerships. Any application by China for TPP membership in the future will need help from Wellington.
Do we have a cuckoo in the Anglosphere nest?