Japan, US pledge to strengthen defense cooperation to counter Chinese threat

TOKYO / WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 (Reuters) – The United States and Japan on Friday expressed deep concern over China’s growing power in clear terms and pledged to work together against attempts to destabilize the region.

The comments of the two allies, in a joint statement that followed a virtual meeting of their foreign and defense ministers, underscored how growing concern over China – and growing tension over Taiwan – has put Japan at the forefront of security.

The ministers expressed concern that China’s efforts “to undermine the rules-based order” present “political, economic, military and technological challenges for the region and the world,” the statement said.

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“They decided to work together to deter and, if necessary, respond to destabilizing activities in the region,” he said.

The ministers also said they had “serious and continuing concerns” regarding human rights in China’s Xinjiang and Hong Kong regions and stressed the importance of peace and stability in the Strait. Taiwan.

At a separate virtual summit on Thursday, Japan and Australia signed a defense cooperation agreement.

China has filed severe representations with the three countries.

“We deplore and strongly oppose the blatant interference in China’s internal affairs by the United States, Japan and Australia and the fabrication of false information to smear China and undermine the solidarity and mutual trust of countries in the region, “said Wang Wenbin, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. daily briefing in Beijing.

Pacifist Japan has close economic ties with China, but it is increasingly concerned that it opposes the democracy of Taiwan, which it claims to be part of China.

“This is clearly a combined message reflecting a common concern, and not a case of the United States twisting the arms to get Japan to sign vague euphemisms,” said Daniel Russel, who was the senior US diplomat for Asia under President Barack Obama and is now with the Asia Society Policy Institute.

“In particular, the expression of a common will to respond if necessary to destabilizing activities appears as a powerful expression of solidarity and determination of the alliance.

Ahead of the talks, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington and Tokyo are planning a new defense deal to counter emerging threats, including hypersonic and space capabilities.

NEW TOOLS

He said the alliance “must not only strengthen the tools we have, but also develop new ones,” citing Russia’s military reinforcement against Ukraine, Beijing’s “provocative” actions against Taiwan and the latter. missile launch from North Korea. North Korea fired a “hypersonic missile” this week that managed to hit a target, its state news agency said.

Russia, China, and the United States are also battling to build hypersonic weapons, whose extreme speed and maneuverability make them difficult to spot and block with interceptor missiles.

While its neighbors are testing hypersonic missiles, Japan is working on electromagnetic railgun technology to target them.

“We must seek all available means, including cooperation with the United States to strengthen global missile defense capabilities,” Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters.

Tokyo also explained its plan to revise the national security strategy to fundamentally strengthen defense capabilities, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said after the meeting.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida promised in October to revise Japan’s security strategy to consider “all options, including possession of so-called enemy strike capabilities.”

Kishida’s government approved record defense spending, with a 10th consecutive annual increase in 2022.

Jeffrey Hornung, a Japanese security policy expert at the Rand Corporation, a US-backed think tank, said that while Japan’s options for using force are limited, he might consider an emergency in Taiwan. threatens its own survival.

“There is no coded messaging here,” Hornung said.

“China is the challenge and they said it, then detailed all the ways the alliance is determined to work to counter its destabilizing activities.”

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Reporting by David Brunnstrom, Dan Whitcomb and Rami Ayyub, Ju-min Park and Kiyoshi Takenaka; additional reporting by Martin Pollard; Editing by David Dolan, Richard Pullin, Shri Navaratnam and Kevin Liffey

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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