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China slams US trilateral summit, summons diplomats

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During a summit of presidents Joe Biden, United States, Fumio Kishida, Japan, (pictured) and Ferdinand Marcos jr, the Philippines, in Washington April, 2024, the three leaders discussed China’s ‘aggressive actions’ in the disputed South China Sea, besides unveiling a wide range of pacts to boost security and economic ties, the writers say. – Picture: JIJI Press / AFP / January 1, 2024

By Reuters, Xinhua and AFP

Beijing summoned Japanese and Philippine diplomats yesterday to express its concern and dissatisfaction over negative comments about China aired during a summit of the leaders of the United States, Japan and the Philippines in Washington, China’s foreign ministry said.

The US and its allies, including Japan, have been building up their militaries to counter what they see as a growing threat from China in areas such as the busy waterway of the South China Sea and around Taiwan.

At this week’s summit in Washington, the three leaders discussed China’s “aggressive actions” in the disputed South China Sea, besides unveiling a wide range of pacts to boost security and economic ties.

US President Joe Biden pulled out all the stops as he hosted Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for a gala state visit at the White House this week, impressing guests with moon rockets and superstar musicians.

Biden and Kishida laid out a series of projects, from co-developing missiles to manned moon landings, while condemning China’s escalatory behaviour in the South China Sea region.

The two leaders were keen to show US-Japan relations soaring to new heights – and nowhere was that clearer than Biden’s announcement that a Japanese person would be the first non-American to walk on the Moon.

The two also announced plans to upgrade their military alliance, including the US military command in Japan and more joint development of defence equipment.

Biden and Kishida leaned heavily on the symbolism of cherry blossoms, the evanescent springtime flowers loved by the Japanese and Washingtonians. Japan sent over 3,000 cherry blossom trees to the US just over a century ago and they line the US capital’s scenic Tidal Basin.

“I am confident that the cherry blossom-like bond of the Japan-US alliance will continue to grow even bigger and stronger,” Kishida said.

“We strongly deplore and strongly oppose the remarks,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, said in response to Kishida’s speech to the US Congress in which he named China as the world’s biggest challenge.

China strongly opposes these countries’ small-group politics and any acts that instigate and increase tension, she said about the summit.

“China firmly opposes the relevant countries manipulating bloc politics, and firmly opposes any behaviour that provokes or lays plans for opposition, and hurts other countries’ strategic security and interests,” Mao said.

A Chinese ministry official, Liu Jinsong, met a Japanese embassy official, Akira Yokochi, to make “solemn representations” about the negative comments, the ministry said in a statement.

China urged Japan to respect China’s core interests and major concerns, earnestly implement the important consensus on comprehensively advancing strategic and mutually beneficial relations between the two countries, drop its beggar-thy-neighbour practices and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs to avoid further damage to China-Japan relations, Xinhua reported a Chinese Embassy spokesperson as saying on Thursday.

The spokesperson said that Japan ignored China’s repeated dissuasion and insisted on wantonly manipulating China-related issues at the Japan-US leaders’ meeting and in their joint statement, seriously interfering in China’s internal affairs and harming China’s interests.

In a separate summit with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos jr on Thursday, Biden warned of Beijing’s South China Sea moves. Biden pledged to defend the Philippines from any attack in the South China Sea.

Liu also made “solemn representations” to the Philippine ambassador to China, Jaime FlorCruz, who was summoned by the ministry over the South-east Asian country’s “negative words and deeds” related to China during the summit.

The summit at the White House came amid repeated confrontations between Chinese and Philippine vessels in the disputed waterway that have raised fears of wider conflict.

“We firmly oppose engaging in closed cliques that exclude others in the region,” Mao said.

“Japan and the Philippines can of course develop normal relations with other countries, but they should not invite factional opposition into the region, much less engage in trilateral cooperation at the cost of hurting another country’s interests. If these are not wanton smears and attacks on China, what are they?” she said.

Beijing claims almost the entirety of the South China Sea, brushing aside competing claims from several Southeast Asian nations, including the Philippines.

“China’s actions in the East China Sea and South China Sea are appropriate and lawful, and beyond reproach,” Mao said. – Reuters, Xinhua and AFP