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China calls Japan “irresponsible” after Tokyo publishes map rejecting one-China principle

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is a staunch pro-independence leader (Photo: Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

China has called Japan “irresponsible” after Tokyo issued a defence white paper which nailed Beijing as the number one security threat and rejected the one-China principle by issuing a map that, for the first-time, excluded Taiwan as a part of China.

China’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday went ballistic and called Japan’s white paper as “extremely wrong and irresponsible, “accusing Tokyo of interfering in “China's internal affairs”.

Beijing insists that Taiwan is part of China, and therefore any steps taken by any country that questions that status, in China’s view, amounts to an interference in its internal affairs. China has declared that one-China principle is sacrosanct, which implies that the territories of Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang are China’s integral part.

For the first time, Japan has removed Taiwan from a map of China in its Defence of Japan white paper published this week. The 2021 white paper by Japan's Defence Ministry focuses considerably on the threats posed by China to the region due to the latter's increasing assertion in the waters around the South China Sea and the Pacific region.

The white paper in its earlier editions had always shown Taiwan and China together, alluding to Taiwan as a territory of China. Taiwan was also shown along with China in the same chapter and map, to the annoyance of the Taiwanese people living in Japan. However, this time, Taiwan News website points out that "there seems to be a distinction between the two countries, indicating a change in policy by Japan Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi".

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has welcomed the changes to the white paper. It also thanked Japan for highlighting the importance of "stabilizing the situation surrounding Taiwan" and paying "close attention to the situation with a sense of crisis more than ever before."

The newspaper says: "Instead, Taiwan has been included in Part I, Chapter 2, Section 3 of "Relations between the United States and China, etc." Another major change that Taiwan News has noticed is that the introduction to Taiwan's military situation has been incorporated in this section as opposed to "Deployment and Strength of People's Liberation Army" in Part 1, Chapter 2, Section 2.

In Thursday’s statement, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian urged Japan not to “unreasonably accuse China of normal national defence construction and military activities, make irresponsible remarks about China's legitimate maritime activities, and exaggerate the so-called Chinese threat”. He added: “China is strongly dissatisfied with this and firmly opposes it.”

The Japanese White Paper stressed that, "Stabilizing the Taiwan situation is important for Japan’s national security and stabilization of the international community".

Japan has been repeatedly highlighting the Chinese threat to Taiwan as a concern to regional stability as well as a threat to global peace. Japan has also urged European nations to send their warships for military exercises to the region for ensuring the freedom of passage in the seas around China.

Japan is worried because China has in recent months increased violations of maritime and air space around Taiwan, which it considers its own. Tokyo is concerned that that if China attacks Taiwan, it would be tempted to snatch Japan’s Okinawa islands as well.

Referring to threatening Chinese military activity around Taiwan, Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister Aso Taro said: “If a major incident happened, it would not be strange at all if it touches on a situation threatening survival. If that is the case, Japan and the US must defend Taiwan together.”