US, Japan chide China as they deepen defence ties

Japan and the United States have expressed concern about what they described as China’s “ongoing efforts” to “undermine” the rules-based international order, as the two countries agreed to deepen defence cooperation in response to new and emerging threats.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, and the two countries’ defence ministers met virtually to discuss stepping up security ties amid a growing focus on Japan’s international role.

The ministers “expressed their concerns that ongoing efforts by China to undermine the rules-based order present political, economic, military, and technological challenges to the region and the world”, according to a statement released after the meeting.

“They resolved to work together to deter and, if necessary, respond to destabilising activities in the region.”

They also expressed concern about China’s activities in the East China Sea, where Japan is involved in a territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands, and reiterated their “strong objections” to China’s “unlawful maritime claims, militarization and coercive activities in the South China Sea”.

Beijing claims almost the entire sea under its so-called nine-dash line that was rejected by an international court after a case brought by the Philippines in 2016. It has been building artificial islands and military outposts there, as well as deploying its coast guard and its shadowy maritime militia.

The ministers also said they had “serious and ongoing concerns” about human rights issues in Xinjiang as well as Hong Kong and underscored the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Friday that China deplores the recent comments by the United States and Japan.

China lodged a formal complaint with both countries, said Wang, at a daily news briefing in Beijing.

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