Mon, Mar 07, 2005 - Page 1 News List

China warns US and Japan on `interference'

SECURITY ISSUES The two should refrain from including Taiwan in their military cooperation, as it could `arouse uneasiness' among nations in Asia

AFP , BEIJING

China warned yesterday that increasing US-Japan military cooperation should be strictly bilateral and not encompass Beijing's arch-rival Taiwan.

Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing (李肇星) said Beijing sought better ties with both Washington and Tokyo -- China's two major trading partners -- but he refused to back down from territorial disputes that have recently become increasingly bitter.

"Any part of putting Taiwan directly or indirectly into the scope of Japan-US security cooperation constitutes an encroachment on China's sovereignty and interference in China's internal affairs," Li said. "The Chinese government and people are firmly against such activities."

During a wide-ranging press conference on the sidelines of the National People's Congress, Li characterized the military pact between Japan and the US as a "bilateral arrangement" that came about during the Cold War.

Such a relationship, Li warned, should be "strictly restricted" to a bilateral nature, adding that any expansion of the alliance could cause problems in the region.

"If it goes beyond the bilateral scope, definitely it would arouse uneasiness on the part of Asian countries and bring about complicated factors to the regional security situation," Li said.

Beijing has been increasingly wary of Washington and Tokyo's close strategic partnership.

The Taiwan issue was the "most sensitive" and core issue facing Sino-US ties, he said.

China last month voiced strong opposition to a US and Japanese statement which described Taiwan as a common security issue, slamming the allies' move as "inappropriate."

Washington and Tokyo jointly urged China, which has over 600 missiles amassed opposite Taiwan, "to improve transparency of its military affairs."

Regarding relations with Japan, Li said present ties with Tokyo should be "cherished" as they have come through "long-term and arduous efforts," but Tokyo must "properly" handle its relations with Taiwan and back down from its claims to the disputed Senkaku, or Tiaoyu Islands, in the East China Sea.

The long-standing territorial dispute has recently been at the center of noisy anti-Japanese protests in China, as well as in Hong Kong, but Li said China hoped to resolve the dispute through dialogue.

"China has indisputable, historical and legal sovereignty over the Tiaoyu Island and the adjacent islands," Li said.

"No glib words or tricky action can change this fact nor can it be changed by any unilateral action by any foreign country," he said in apparent reference to the recent building of structures by Japan on the islands.

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