Beijing blasts US, Japan for ‘anti-China encirclement’ after Tokyo talks

Catherine Wong
·3-min read

Beijing has blasted Washington and Tokyo for attempting “anti-China encirclement” after their officials raised concerns about its “destabilising behaviour” in the region during talks on Tuesday.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Wednesday issued Beijing’s toughest words yet on US efforts to revive alliances to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

It followed a meeting in Tokyo between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi.

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In a joint statement released after the “two plus two” diplomatic and security talks, the two countries said they were “committed to opposing [China’s] coercion and destabilising behaviour towards others in the region” and expressed “serious concerns” on the situation in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

They also highlighted shared concerns over China’s new coastguard law that took effect last month, calling it a “disruptive” development and “unilateral action that seeks to change the status quo or to undermine Japan’s administration of [the Diaoyu Islands]”.

(From left) Lloyd Austin, Antony Blinken, Toshimitsu Motegi and Nobuo Kishi meet for diplomatic and security talks in Tokyo on Tuesday. Photo: Xinhua
(From left) Lloyd Austin, Antony Blinken, Toshimitsu Motegi and Nobuo Kishi meet for diplomatic and security talks in Tokyo on Tuesday. Photo: Xinhua

Zhao said Beijing had lodged representation to both countries and called the joint statement “a vicious attack on China’s foreign policy” and “gross interference in China’s internal affairs”.

“The United States and Japan cling to a Cold War mentality, intentionally create confrontation between camps, and attempt to create an anti-China encirclement,” he said. “These efforts run counter to the current of the times … and will only bring chaos and even confrontation to the region.”

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The Tokyo trip has been seen as an effort to reaffirm America’s commitment to the region and its alliance with Japan, while setting a combative tone ahead of another high-level meeting, between US and Chinese officials. Blinken, along with national security adviser Jake Sullivan, is expected to meet Yang Jiechi, a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo and the country’s top diplomat, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Anchorage, Alaska on Thursday.

Washington has characterised the meeting as a one-off event and has indicated that American officials would be tough on a range of security and human rights issues, while China has wanted the meeting to be an opportunity for the two superpowers to reset their relations.

Zhao said Beijing would not yield to diplomatic pressure from Washington ahead of the meeting.

“The US and Japan have no right to unilaterally define international relations, much less the right to impose their own standards on others,” he said.

But the Chinese official’s criticism of Tokyo was more targeted, calling Japan’s actions “contemptible” and accusing it of being a “strategic vassal” of the United States.

“In order to fulfil its selfish interest in containing China’s rise and rejuvenation, Japan has allowed itself to be dependent on the whims of others, to become a strategic vassal of the United States, it has broken the promises it made and trust it gained and harmed Sino-Japanese relations,” Zhao said.

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