Kishida’s absurd accusation against China shifts focus from multilateral cooperation, hinders improvement in China ties
Published: Nov 14, 2022 10:27 PM
Fumio Kishida Photo: AFP

Fumio Kishida Photo: AFP

As Japan refuses to give up the illusion of containing China in the Asia-Pacific region, its desire for better bilateral relations with the latter will only be a fool's errand.

Speaking at the East Asia Summit (EAS) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated on Sunday that there has been continued, increasing actions by China in the East China Sea that "violate Japan's sovereignty." He also accused China of continuing to take actions that heighten regional tension in the South China Sea.

"The EAS is a multilateral mechanism set up based on cooperation. It is not a place to target a particular country. Such an extremely inappropriate move will not win sympathy for Japan in the region or boost its diplomacy," Wang Guangtao, an associate research fellow at Fudan University, told the Global Times.

Kishida has taken the question between the two countries to a multilateral occasion. He tried to magnify it into a regional issue, attempting to draw other regional countries into Tokyo's criticism and confrontation against China.

This approach will obscure the focus of multilateral meetings, which is to promote cooperation between countries. As a result, friction and disagreements have overshadowed the good atmosphere of cooperation.

More importantly, Kishida's accusation is absurd since China has never violated Japan's sovereignty in the East China Sea.

Japan has often protested against Chinese Coast Guard vessels patrolling the waters around China's Diaoyu Islands. At the same time, Kishida has also expressed disappointment at China's efforts to develop areas in the East China Sea, describing it as "unacceptable." 

But these matters fall completely under China's sovereign rights and jurisdiction. As Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin once said, Japan should not make unwarranted remarks.

If Tokyo continues with its anti-China strategy, especially if it voluntarily acts as Washington's pawn, it will only hurt itself.

Chinese military expert and TV commentator Song Zhongping believes that China and Japan used to share strained political and relatively cordial economic relations. But with the Japanese government becoming increasingly conservative and blindly following the US Indo-Pacific Strategy, China-Japan relations will suffer a severe setback. The economic ties between the two may also deteriorate, and even confrontation could occur, Song noted. And such results will be disastrous for Tokyo. On the one hand, due to the lack of strategic buffer zones with China, Japan may have to face severe damage in almost all spheres, be they the economy or the military. On the other hand, Washington, Tokyo's ally, will always put its own interests first, which means Japan will easily be abandoned by the US if there is a confrontation between China and Japan. Because of the close ties with China, particularly in economic, people-to-people, and cultural exchanges, it is evident that Japan seeks to improve its bilateral relations with China. However, to do so, it should first give up treating China as an imaginary enemy or make it an object that needs to be contained in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Japan must deeply realize that, as a regional country, it should prioritize peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. It should seek to shelve disputes and promote common development and peaceful coexistence on many issues, rather than creating chaos in the region under the influence of the US," said Song.