China has issued a threat to Japan over “negative moves” in the East China Sea dispute between the two countries.
China’s Defense Ministry issued stern warnings to Japan on Wednesday as relations between the two east Asian countries reach an all-time low, following Beijing’s introduction of a controversial coast guard law and tightening relationships between the United States and Japan.
The shift in regional geopolitics prompted Beijing to demand Japan stop making provocative moves and refrain from infringing on its maritime territory in the disputed islands of Senkaku in the East China Sea, reports the South China Morning Post.
“China’s defence department stressed the fact that the Diaoyu (Senkaku) Islands and its affiliated islets are all China’s inherent territory,” said Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian.
“Japan should stop all provocative moves involving the Diaoyu problem … The Chinese side also expressed strong dissatisfaction and serious concern over its recent series of negative moves against China and asked Japan to abide by international relations criteria, stop smearing China and take practical actions to maintain China-Japan relations,” he added.
Wu issued his warning on Tuesday night, after the defence ministries of both nations held a virtual meeting a day prior on maritime and air liaison communication. The meeting was part of a mechanism created in 2007 to reduce the chance of military miscalculation between the two rival nations, reports the SCMP.
According to defence experts who spoke to the publication, it is rare for the Chinese defence ministry to send warnings to Japan regarding the Senkaku Islands. The warning was an apparent attempt to deter Japan from joining America in strengthening its naval ties with Taiwan.
The tension between Chinese forces and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force near Senkaku came to ahead after China passed a law in January allowing its coast guard to open fire on foreign vessels. The Chinese defence spokesperson defended the legislation and claimed it was in line with international practice.
Chinese commentators say that the defence ministry’s statement to Japan is a warning not to intervene in China’s affairs with Taiwan. China does not respect Taiwan’s sovereignty and believes it must be “unified” with the mainland.