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Japan accuses neighbor of violating its sovereignty

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has blasted Beijing over escalating tensions in the East China Sea

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has delivered an unusually harsh rebuke of China, accusing Beijing of violating his country’s sovereignty and of stirring up tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.

“There has been continued, increasing actions by China in the East China Sea that violate Japan’s sovereignty,” Kishida told fellow heads of state on Sunday at the East Asia Summit in Cambodia. “China also continues to take actions that heighten regional tension in the South China Sea.”

Kishida was apparently referring to Chinese incursions in waters around the Senkaku Islands, which are controlled by Tokyo but also claimed by Beijing. Going beyond Japan’s direct territorial concerns, he also suggested that China was jeopardizing regional security in the Taiwan Strait, and he expressed “serious concern” over the human rights of China’s Uighur ethnic minority.

China ramped up its military drills around Taiwan and broke off defense and climate ties with Washington after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a controversial visit to the self-governing island in August. Those drills included the firing of ballistic missiles, five of which landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the East China Sea, according to the Japanese Defense Ministry. At the time, Tokyo protested the incident through diplomatic channels.

Kishida made his comments on the same day that he met with US President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit. Those talks focused largely on provocations by North Korea, including a spate of missile tests, but the leaders also “reiterated their resolve to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” according to a White House statement.

Beijing’s position is that Taiwan is an integral part of China – the so-called ‘One China’ policy – and that China “will inevitably be reunified.” A white paper released in August states that while Beijing will strive to achieve this reunification peacefully, it reserves the right to use military force.

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Biden’s administration has vowed to continue providing weaponry and military training to Taiwanese forces, even as it continues a policy of recognizing – but not endorsing – China’s claim to sovereignty over the island.