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US, Japan told to stop meddling in China affairs

By WANG XU in Tokyo | China Daily | Updated: 2021-04-19 07:10
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US President Joe Biden walks out of the Oval Office with Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga ahead of a news conference at the White House in Washington on April 16, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

China urged the United States and Japan to stop meddling in its domestic affairs and accused them of sowing division as Washington and Tokyo included a direct reference to China's Taiwan province in their joint statement for the first time in over 50 years.

"We urge the US and Japan to take China's concern seriously, abide by the one-China principle, and immediately stop meddling in China's domestic affairs and harming China's interests," a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said in a statement on Saturday. "China will take all necessary measures to resolutely defend its sovereignty, security and development interests."

The spokesperson's remarks came in response to a joint statement issued after US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's first in-person talks at the White House on Friday.

In the statement, the two leaders said, "We underscore the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues." The statement also spoke of other internal affairs of China such as issues relating to the Diaoyu Islands, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and the South China Sea.

It was the first time that Washington and Tokyo had mentioned Taiwan explicitly since 1969, when former Japanese prime minister Eisaku Sato and former US president Richard Nixon said in a joint statement, "The maintenance of peace and security in the Taiwan area was also important for the peace and security of Japan."

It was also Tokyo's strongest political challenge to Beijing since diplomatic ties were normalized in 1972, when Japan recognized the "one-China principle" and consequently relegated its relationship with Taiwan to a nongovernmental, working-level basis.

Stressing that Biden and Suga's joint statement had grossly interfered in China's domestic affairs and severely violated basic norms governing international relations, the spokesperson in Beijing said Taiwan and the Diaoyu Islands are both Chinese territory, adding that issues relating to Hong Kong and Xinjiang are purely China's internal affairs and that China has indisputable sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea and waters around them.

"China deplores and rejects it (the statement). We have stated our solemn position to the US and Japan through the diplomatic channel," the spokesperson said.

The US and Japan are ganging up to form cliques and fanning bloc confrontation while talking about "free and open", the spokesperson said. "This anachronistic move runs counter to the aspiration for peace, development and cooperation shared by the overwhelming majority of countries in the region and beyond."

It will only enable the world to see with increasing clarity the detrimental nature of the US-Japan alliance, which attempts to undermine regional peace and stability, the spokesperson said.

Liu Qingbin, a professor at the Institute of Advanced Sciences at Yokohama National University, said Japan's bold statements ran counter to its deep-seated practice of many years in which Tokyo tends to use vague and sweeping language when mentioning China or its most sensitive interests together with the US.

"As a matter of fact, the practice turned out to be successful for Tokyo when it conducts vast trade with China while maintain strategic autonomy to a certain extent with the US," Liu said. "Abandoning the approach will only result in less leverage with one and less flexibility with the other."

Yuzo Tanaka, a professor of economics at Ryukoku University in Kyoto, said Japan should be more circumspect in following Biden's hard line on China.

"Playing the Taiwan card to toady to the US should not be prioritized more than domestic agendas such as controlling the pandemic, restoring the economy and creating a promising future for post-pandemic recovery for Japan," Tanaka said.

Xinhua News Agency contributed to this story.

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