Japan takes Dragon to the seas, accuses China of pushing territorial claims

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U.S. President Donald Trump and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hold a news conference, at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, Japan May 27, 2019.

Belligerent China’s aggressive expansionist policies is costing President Xi dear. Close on the heels of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement dubbing China’s pursuit of resources in South China Sea “unlawful”, Japan has now taken the Dragon to the seas.

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Shinzo Abe re-elected as LDP head, may become Japan’s longest-serving PM

Releasing the annual white paper approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan has expressed concern over China’s relentless intrusions near a group of East China Sea islets.

Accusing China of pushing it’s territorial claims during the raging coronavirus pandemic, Japan, in its annual defence review, has claimed that China is spreading propaganda and disinformation and “is continuing to attempt to alter the status quo in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.” The paper was released by the Shinzo Abe government on Tuesday.

Describing “relentless” intrusions in waters around the Senaku islands in the East China Sea, which China calls Diaoyu and also claims to be a part of it’s own territory, Japan said, “China has relentless continued unilateral attempts to change the status quo by coercion in the sea area around the Senaku islands, leading to a grave matter of concern.”

Blaming China of escalation of activities, Japan said, “Chinese navy and Air Force have in recent years expanded and intensified their activities in the surrounding sea areas and airspace of Japan, and there are cases involving the one-sided escalation of activities. China has been continuing activities viewed as training of maritime and air forces making forays into the pacific and the Sea of Japan, being suspected of intending to regularize these activities.”

Breathing fire on the Dragon, Japan’s annual review further said, “In the South China Sea, China is moving forward with militarization, as well as expanding and intensifying its activities in the maritime and aerial domains, thereby continuing unilateral attempts to change the status quo by coercion to create a fait accompli.”

China, which engaged in a violent skirmish with India at Galwan valley along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on the intervening night of June 15-16, has faced global condemnation for it’s actions with countries including the United States, Australia and Japan standing shoulder to shoulder with India. The clash led to heavy casualties on the Chinese side while 20 Indian soldiers were martyred.

Japan’s views mirror the comments made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday rejecting China’s claims on the disputed Spartly Islands in the South China Sea, Pompeo said that Beijing had “no legal grounds to unilaterally impose its will on the region”. China responded with a terse message and dubbed Pompeo’s statement as ‘deliberate distortion of facts’.

He said that the United States, which had in the past said it does not take sides in territorial disputes, rejected China’s claims to waters off Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Spelling out in no uncertain terms that “the world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire”, he said, “Any action to harass other states’ fishing or hydrocarbon development in these waters – or to carry out such activities unilaterally – is unlawful.”

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Japan’s review also mentions China’s ulterior motive behind the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative and China’s support for construction of port infrastructure in Indian Ocean and Pacific island countries to secure bases for its military objectives besides highlighting China’s relations with the United States and tensions surrounding Hong Kong, Taiwan issue, the South China Sea besides highlighting gross human rights violations perpetrated by China on Uighur and Tibet fronts.

Japan has also held China responsible for “propaganda” and “disinformation” amid “social uncertainties and confusion” caused by COVID-19 outbreak saying that such disinformation included online claims that coronavirus was brought to China by someone in the US military.

Visibly cornered, China hit back with a terse message saying Japan’s review was “full of bias” and it has “made representation to the Japanese side”.

China also lashed out at the United States for fomenting trouble in the South China Sea.

 

“The US frequently dispatches large-scale advanced warships and military aircraft to the South China Sea: it is the real troublemaker and destroyer of regional peace and stability,”  Chinese FM spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in response to US statement on the South China Sea.

 

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