Japan is Concerned Over Economic Security Amid US-China Rivalry

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In a white paper released, the Japanese government said that it should diversify suppliers and cooperate with the United States and other countries to protect supply chains as a way to improve economic security amid increased US-China rivalry.

The document, authored by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, also stressed it is “essential” that thorough measures be taken to prevent sensitive technologies from being leaked, reported Kyodo News.

The white paper said countries had been spurred to strengthen economic security after the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the fragility of supply chains, citing the disruption of medical supplies as an example.

It further stressed the need to promote research, development and capital investment in technologies of strategic importance with the aim of strengthening domestic production and “securing a competitive edge.”

Furthermore, international challenges include concerns that protectionist moves such as tariff hikes could become the norm and that countries offering industrial subsidies and other support could impact competition, the document said.

Japan also called for addressing such issues through rulemaking at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and strategic collaboration between the public and private sectors.

Touching on the sharpening focus on human rights and environmental issues in business activities, the white paper argued that “greater consideration will be required than ever before” for labour conditions and environmental pollution at sites where raw materials are sourced, Kyodo News reported.

Under the former US President Donald Trump’s administration, ties between Washington and Beijing had deteriorated over issues such as human rights violations in Xinjiang, encroachment on the special status of Hong Kong, accusations of unfair trade practices by Beijing, lack of transparency concerning the pandemic and China’s military aggression in various parts of the world.

Recently, tensions between China and Japan have escalated amid increased activity by Beijing in the disputed East China Sea.

China has been increasing its maritime activities in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea over the past few months, partly in response to Beijing’s concerns over the increasing US military presence in the region because of escalating Sino-US tensions.

Beijing also implemented a new law that allows the country’s quasi-military force to use weapons against foreign ships that China sees as illegally entering its waters.

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