Prime Minister Fumio Kishida slammed Beijing for escalating tensions in the East China Sea
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida issued an unusually harsh rebuke to China, accusing Beijing of violating his country’s sovereignty and stoking tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.
“There have been continuous and escalating actions by China in the East China Sea that violate Japan’s sovereignty,” Kishida told his fellow heads of state at the East Asia Summit in Cambodia on Sunday. “China also continues to take measures that escalate regional tensions in the South China Sea.”
Kishida was apparently referring to Chinese incursions into the waters around the Senkaku Islands, which are controlled by Tokyo but also claimed by Beijing. Going beyond Japan’s direct territorial concerns, he also hinted that China was jeopardizing regional security in the Taiwan Strait, and he expressed “serious concern” on the human rights of China’s Uyghur ethnic minority.
China has stepped up military exercises around Taiwan and severed defense and climate ties with Washington after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a controversial visit to the self-governing island in August . These exercises included the firing of ballistic missiles, five of which landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the East China Sea, according to Japan’s Defense Ministry. At the time, Tokyo protested the incident through diplomatic channels.
Kishida made the comments the same day he met US President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit. Those talks largely focused on North Korea’s provocations, including a series of missile tests, but the leaders also “reiterated their determination to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait”, according to a statement from the White House.
Beijing’s position is that Taiwan is an integral part of China – the so-called “One China” politics – and that China “will inevitably be reunited.” A white paper published in August says that while Beijing will strive to achieve this reunification peacefully, it reserves the right to use military force.
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Biden’s administration has pledged to continue providing weaponry and military training to Taiwanese forces, even as it pursues a policy of recognizing – but not endorsing – China’s claim to sovereignty over the island .