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Home The News News Japan envoy warns against escalation

Japan envoy warns against escalation

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Japanese Ambassador to the US Koji Tomita speaks during an interview in New York on Tuesday.
Photo: Bloomberg

The US and allies must balance sending a clear message to China over Taiwan with the need to avoid escalation as Asia enters a “sinister period” of tensions, Japan’s top envoy to the US said.

“We need to respond, we need to send a clear message,” Japanese Ambassador to the US Koji Tomita said in an interview on Tuesday at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters. “We have to act firmly, but wisely, because we have to be careful that we should not go to into an escalatory cycle.”

Tomita said China sought to use US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan earlier this month as a “pretext to do something very aggressive” and change the “status quo” in the Taiwan Strait, launching missiles that landed in the waters of Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

Japanese National Security Secretariat Director-General Takeo Akiba raised the issue in a conversation with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪) on Thursday last week that stretched for about seven hours, Tomita said.

Even as the region is “going into a rather sinister period,” with tensions soaring after Pelosi’s visit, China is entering a “delicate period” before an important Chinese Communist Party meeting in which Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is expected to be given a third term in power, Tomita said.

“In the coming weeks, we need to exercise caution in the hope of managing the situation,” he said. “But at the same time we need to continue our efforts in the context of our alliance cooperation. We need to step up efforts to upgrade our deterrence and capabilities.”

His remarks came as a number of foreign delegations visited Taiwan this month, despite the fierce objections of Beijing.

“There’s no reason why those people should not go to Taiwan, given the importance of Taiwan in the geographical environment, and in the context of industrial production and cooperation with chips,” he said.

Two US lawmakers who were part of a five-member delegation that visited Taiwan last week said the US must maintain close ties with Taiwan and deter China from intervening in the nation without altering the “status quo” in US-China relations.

US Representative Don Beyer said he and the delegation affirmed their support for the US’ long-standing “one China” policy.

“We felt it was important to reinforce the message that despite America’s — or perhaps because of — America’s ‘one China’ policy that we nevertheless wanted to maintain the status quo in Taiwan and deter if possible any kind of forceful intervention that the PRC [People’s Republic of China] would have with Taiwan,” Beyer said on Bloomberg Television’s Balance of Power with David Westin.

On their two-day trip to Taiwan, the delegation met with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and Taiwanese lawmakers.

US Senator Ed Markey, who led the delegation, told a news conference on Tuesday that the US has a responsibility to stand with Taiwan and to take a steady approach to avoid escalating tensions.

He rejected assertions by Chinese officials that he and the others were being provocative.

“No one tells me where to stand, and no one tells me where to travel,” Markey said.

“It is imperative that we keep our relations strong with the Taiwanese government. But we cannot respond in kind to Chinese escalation and it’s our moral responsibility to do everything we can to maintain peace, stability and deterrence across the Taiwan Strait,” he said.

Source: Taipei Times - 2022/08/25

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