Prime Minister David Cameron will come under pressure from the United States and Japan at this week’s G7 summit for his government’s close relations with China, at a time when Washington and Beijing have clashed over territorial disputes.
US President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are expected to oppose Britain’s stance as China’s “best partner in the west” – a position cultivated during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the UK last October.
Several G7 nations will also criticize the UK for continuing its austerity policies at a time of slumping consumer demand around the world.
Abe will seek to make relations with China one of the main topics of the G7 summit, which will be held on the small island of Kashikojima.
Japan and the US are keen to build a broad agreement among European nations in opposition to China’s increasingly assertive role in Asia, in particular in the South China Sea where its islands-building project has stoked tensions with neighboring states and Washington.
Abe is seeking to reach a consensus with G7 nations on defending the rule of law at sea.
Britain’s recent charm offensive with China in a bid to improve economic ties has irritated the US and Japan.
Last year, Obama administration officials warned London over its “constant accommodation” of China.
Japan expressed concern over multibillion trade deals signed between the UK and China last year during Xi’s state visit.
London signed trade deals worth £40 billion ($61.35 billion) with Beijing during the visit.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida reportedly held telephone talks with his British counterpart, Philip Hammond, over the matter.
Japanese officials were said to think it undesirable for Britain to improve its relations with China without criticizing the country’s border disputes in the East and South China seas, and its human rights record.
Cameron has shrugged off suggestions Britain’s love-bombing of Beijing will damage its “special relationship” with the US.
Cameron told Chinese state media he sees no conflict in having “that very special relationship [with the US]” and “with wanting to be a strong partner for China as the Chinese economy continues to grow and China emerges as an enormous world power.”
During the G7, Japan will also join with the US, France and Italy in pushing for greater fiscal stimulus.
The governments of Britain and Germany, both strong proponents of austerity, are fervently opposed to policies to bolster economic growth through stimulus.