China warns Japan against stoking military, regional tensions over Taiwan

·3-min read
Representative Image
Representative Image

Beijing [China], May 23 (ANI): Chinese Foreign Ministry lashed out against Japanese Defence Chief Nobuo Kishi saying Nansei Islands - southernmost of the Japanese mainland close to Taiwan -- are a source of concern and said that Beijing will safeguard its territory and Tokyo should not stretch too far.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Friday said that Japan should "stop misinformation and slander" against China, reported South China Morning Post (SCMP).

"Japan's irresponsible remarks are stoking military competition, stirring up regional tensions, provoking military confrontations and meddling in Taiwan issues," Zhao said.

He warned against interference in Taiwan, a self-ruled island Beijing vows to bring back into its fold, by force if necessary.

"Japan has always had a small group of forces obsessed with the old dream of militarism and they are trying to get their hands on Taiwan," Zhao said.

"We have to tell the Japanese side that our will to safeguard its security and territorial integrity is as firm as a rock and that Japan should not stretch its hands too far."

Earlier, in an interview with Nikkei newspaper on Wednesday, Japanese Defence Minister Kishi said the country could take a "radically different approach" to counter Beijing's growing military strength, reported SCMP.

Japan's Defence Chief said the country might scrap its 1 per cent GDP cap on military spending to counter China's armed forces.

Kishi said the military balance between Japan and China had "leaned heavily toward China in recent years, and the gap has been growing by the year".

"The security environment surrounding Japan is changing rapidly, with heightened uncertainty. We will properly allocate the funding we need to protect our nation," he said.

Laura Zhou writing in SCMP said that Kishi said the Nansei Islands, a chain known as the Ryukus in Japan and that stretches from the southernmost of the Japanese mainland to Taiwan, were a major area of concern.

Relations between China and Japan, already complicated by their wartime history and territorial disputes over a series of islets in the East China Sea, were further strained last month when Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and US President Joe Biden issued a joint statement stressing the importance of peace in the Taiwan Strait. It was the first mention of the self-ruled island in a joint statement since 1969.

In the statement, Japan also promised to bolster its defences "to further strengthen the alliance and regional security".

Japan has spent heavily on personnel for its self-defence forces, US military bases in the country and development of its ballistic missile defence and space development, but its pacifist constitution prohibits its military from using force to settle international disputes, wrote Laura.

Liu Jiangyong, a Japanese affairs expert at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said Kishi's remark could be "a trial balloon" in a push for constitutional reform but an increase in military spending to 4 or 5 per cent was unlikely soon, reported SCMP.

"But what is worth noting is that the so-called defence budget is not only for defending Japan but an increasing part of it would be invested in the US-led global military strategy so that Japanese military, even in the case of no attack, could join the US and fight overseas, which also raises its so-called defence input," Liu said.

Japan has been active in pushing forward cooperation under the Quad alliance with the US, Australia and India, which Beijing sees as part of efforts to counter China's influence in the region. Kishi said that he was in favour of a "Quad defence ministers meeting". (ANI)

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