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China scraps meeting with Japanese foreign minister after G7 statement

South China Morning Post logo South China Morning Post 04/08/2022 Cyril Ip
  • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi won't meet his Japanese counterpart this week after G7 and EU diplomats criticised Beijing's reaction to Pelosi's Taiwan trip
  • Beijing's mission to the EU also hits back, calling the joint statement 'heinous'

A meeting between the foreign ministers of China and Japan has been cancelled after the Group of 7 slammed Beijing for responding with military drills and trade restrictions to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had been expected to meet Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi in Cambodia on the sidelines of events hosted by Asean this week.

But Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the Chinese side was strongly displeased with the G7's statement, adding that Japan, a member of the group, had no right to comment on the Taiwan issue given its historical record in the region. Taiwan became a Japanese colony in 1895 after the First Sino-Japanese War.

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G7 slams China for 'destabilising region' over Pelosi's visit to Taiwan

"Japan, together with the G7 countries and the European Union [are] unreasonably criticising China, confounding morality, and helping the US to violate Chinese sovereignty," Hua said. "The Chinese people are very dissatisfied."

Hua's remarks echoed those of Beijing's mission to the European Union. On Wednesday, a mission spokesman described the G7 and EU diplomats' assertion that China was to blame for "unnecessary escalation" of regional tensions as "heinous".

"If there are still people in the world who don't understand [evil and shamelessness], please take a look at the joint statement by the G7 and European foreign ministers," the spokesman said when asked about the group's criticism of Beijing for "destabilising the region".

China also lodged protests with diplomats from Britain, Germany, Italy, France and European Union on Thursday, British ambassador to Beijing Caroline Wilson wrote on her Twitter account.

Also on Thursday, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) launched large-scale air and naval joint drills encircling the self-ruled island, which will run until noon on Sunday.

Mainland China also banned certain Taiwanese products following Pelosi's trip to the island earlier this week.

On the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting, Wang rejected the G7's statement and Pelosi's trip. He also said the US was the "biggest troublemaker" for the Taiwan Strait.

"If China does not resolutely resist the manic, irresponsible, and extremely irrational actions of the United States, the principle of respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity in international relations will become an empty principle," he said, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.

Wang will still meet foreign ministers while attending the Asean events, which began on Wednesday in Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh. The foreign ministers of Asean members - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - and some neighbouring countries are attending.

Lu Xiang, an expert on US-China relations at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said Beijing was focused on the "many things" happening now, including the drills around Taiwan, adding that "if the Japanese foreign minister would like to discuss this, I think Beijing would not entertain him".

"Japan is better off distancing itself from the Taiwan issue - the further the better," Lu said. "The Taiwan question is not one for the Japanese to answer, nor an issue that requires them to resolve."

PLA launches Dongfeng missiles into waters off Taiwan amid exercises

Lu said the G7's stance on the issue was "completely erroneous", given that Pelosi's visit reflected that Washington had changed the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.

Beijing's reaction showed "both discipline and strategic patience", according to Andy Mok, senior research fellow at the Centre for China and Globalisation, a non-governmental think tank in Beijing.

As some in the mainland called for harsher treatment of the island, Mok said Beijing's handling of Hong Kong's unrest in 2019 "may serve as a guide".

"Instead of sending in the PLA, as some demanded to extinguish foreign-instigated disorder, China instead pursued methodical changes such as a national security law, which not only eliminated this threat but put Hong Kong on a sustainable path towards stability and prosperity."

Chinese coastal residents unfazed by risk of Taiwan Strait conflict

In their joint statement, the EU diplomats and G7 - an informal bloc that includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the US - said "there is no justification to use a visit as pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait".

"The US has devoted enormous effort in fomenting alliances against China and the G7 is just one of them, so it is not surprising that it parrots American talking points," Mok said, adding that some of Washington's allies would not subscribe fully to its objectives, performing "only enough to avoid American behind-the-scenes arm twisting".

"As China grows in stature, this is an advantage that the US will possess for only so long."

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen thanked the diplomats on Twitter. "We'll work with like-minded partners to maintain a free & open Indo-Pacific," she said, adding that the island was committed to defending democracy and the status quo of cross-strait relations.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (left) speaks to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei, Taiwan on Wednesday. Photo: EPA-EFE © Provided by South China Morning Post US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (left) speaks to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei, Taiwan on Wednesday. Photo: EPA-EFE

Beijing's mission to the EU accused the diplomats of attempting to hollow out the one-China policy, comparing them to the Eight-Nation Alliance, a multinational military coalition that invaded northern China in 1900.

"Do you think China is still the China of the past? Do you think you can succeed? Do you think you can do whatever you want? The Chinese people have long refused to be bullied and manipulated by foreign powers."

"The so-called rules-based international order mentioned in their [joint statement] is a crooked logic that allows them to commit evil while restraining others from fighting back," the spokesman continued. "Why are there so many wars and instability in the world? It is because of such evil and shamelessness."

China detains a suspected Taiwanese separatist following Nancy Pelosi's trip

A spokesman from Beijing's embassy in Britain expressed similar sentiments on Wednesday when asked about British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss' suggestion that Britain provide military aid to Taiwan.

He urged British politicians not to "underestimate the high sensitivity of the Taiwan issue" or "be led astray by the US" and to abide by the one-China principle and "stop making erroneous remarks related to Taiwan". He added that the one-China principle was the basis and precondition for diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Speaking to a House of Commons committee in June, Truss said Britain should have supplied weapons to Ukraine earlier. "We need to learn that lesson for Taiwan. Every piece of equipment we have sent takes months of training, so the sooner we do it, the better," Truss said.

Countries including Russia, Iran, Syria and Pakistan have expressed support for Beijing on Taiwan.

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

Copyright (c) 2022. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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