China urges Japan to stop ‘dangerous’ close monitoring of navy drills

Liu Zhen, South China Morning Post

Posted at May 27 2022 05:30 AM

Chinese defense ministry spox hits Japan, US remarks on Taiwan

Japan observed the take-off and landing of carrier-based J-15 fighters from the Chinese aircraft carrier the Liaoning on May 3, 2022. Courtesy of Japan Ministry of Defense
Japan observed the take-off and landing of carrier-based J-15 fighters from the Chinese aircraft carrier the Liaoning on May 3, 2022. Courtesy of Japan Ministry of Defense

China’s defence ministry has urged Japan to stop “dangerous” close monitoring of the country’s navy exercises, saying it poses a serious safety threat to both sides.

Ministry spokesman Senior Colonel Wu Qian on Thursday also accused Japan of using Chinese military activities as an excuse to expand its own military. It follows a drill in the western Pacific early this month, when China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier strike group was shadowed by Japan’s Izumo warship.

The Japanese air force also scrambled fighter jets in response to the PLA exercise south of Okinawa.

“Such close tracking and interference activities by the Japanese side are very dangerous and could easily lead to misunderstandings and miscalculations and air and sea accidents,” Wu said at a regular press briefing in Beijing.

“Not only are they detrimental to mutual trust between the two sides, they also pose a serious threat to the safety of ships, aircraft and personnel of both sides,” he said.

“China demands that the Japanese side stop all meaningless interference activities.” Wu also hit out at recent remarks by both Japan and the United States on the defence of Taiwan against mainland China – comments he said were violations of Chinese sovereignty.

Beijing sees the self-ruled island as part of its territory and has not ruled out the use of force to bring it under mainland control.

Chinese ambassador to the US Qin Gang also weighed in on Taiwan on Thursday, saying the one-China principle has been the bedrock of peace across the strait but the US has put it “in peril like never before”.

“US actions will embolden separatists and turn the Taiwan Strait into a dangerous powder keg,” Qin wrote in an opinion piece in the South China Morning Post.

He said that by substantially upgrading its ties with the island, sending senior officials there and selling sophisticated weaponry to Taiwan, the US was adding fuel to the fire.

In Beijing, Wu from the defence ministry took aim at a Japanese defence white paper that expresses concern over the security of the Taiwan Strait, saying Japan had invaded and colonised Taiwan for 50 years and was not trusted by its neighbours.

“Taiwan is purely China’s internal affair and we will not allow the Japanese side to intervene.” The defence spokesman also criticised the US State Department’s revision of its “fact sheet” on Taiwan.

One of the changes was to remove the clause stating that the US does not support Taiwan independence.

Wu said the move would backfire and the People’s Liberation Army was “standing by and will take all necessary measures to crush any form of Taiwan independence attempt and firmly defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

“The US side has been hollowing out the one-China principle and trying to use salami-slicing tactics to achieve its plot of ‘controlling China with Taiwan’,” he said.

“We are telling some people on the US side – if they keep ‘slicing the salami’ on the Taiwan issue, they will definitely end up cutting their own hands.”

Commenting on a remark by US Senator Lindsey Graham that China would pay a price for bullying Taiwan, Wu said those who make such comments “should first be prepared to pay the price themselves”.

“On the issue of safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the PLA has always dared to take action and will win if it dares to fight,” he said."

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