China warns Japan against joining forces with US

·3 min read

Beijing has criticised Japan's recent comments on Taiwan and warned it not to join forces with the United States to confront China.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the comments in a call with his Japanese counterpart Yoshimasa Hayashi on Wednesday - two days before US President Joe Biden starts his visit to East Asia to push forward his Indo-Pacific strategy.

Wang noted that Japan will host the Quad summit with Australia and India during Biden's visit, according to a readout from the Chinese foreign ministry, and said: "What is of concern and puts people on alert is that even before the US leader embarked on his trip, the view that Japan and the United States were joining hands to confront China was already rampant."

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Wang urged Japan to bear in mind regional peace and stability and "act prudently" m and warned against confrontation, especially if it harmed China's sovereignty, security and development interests.

He also said Japan should "eliminate interfering factors in a timely manner", especially regarding Taiwan - which Beijing regards as part of its own territory.

"Japan's negative movements on Taiwan and other issues involving China's core interests and major concerns have become prominent recently," the minister said, adding "smears and attacks" by some Japanese politicians have seriously undermined mutual trust.

Beijing was particularly angered by former prime minister Shinzo Abe's comments that "Japan and the United States could not stand by if China attacked Taiwan".

The current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Biden are set to affirm in a joint statement that they will strengthen cooperation on stability in the Taiwan Strait, Japanese government sources told the Kyodo news agency on Tuesday.

The report said Kishida is also expected to announce Japan's participation in the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework - an initiative seen as a statement of Washington's intent to boost its involvement in the region in the face of China's growing clout.

In the call with Wang, which lasted around 70 minutes, Hayashi underscored the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, and expressed "serious concern" about the situations in the East and the South China Seas, according to a readout by the Japanese foreign ministry.

China is embroiled in a series of territorial disputes in those waters, including with Japan over the Diaoyu, or Senkaku, islands.

Wang said that the two countries should carry out "positive interactions", and plan activities for the 50th anniversary of the normalisation of diplomatic relations.

He also called for further cooperation in the fields of the digital economy, green and low-carbon development and climate change governance.

Regarding the situation in Ukraine, which was not mentioned in China's readout, Hayashi called on China to "play a responsible role" to maintain international peace and security.

China has not yet condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and Koyodo reported that Kishida will tell Biden that Japan is worried "what is happening in Ukraine could occur in East Asia as well".

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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