Thu, Mar 30, 2017 - Page 3 News List

‘Backlash’ might follow Japan official’s trip: TAO

By Chang Mao-sen, Chung Li-hua and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters in Taipei and Tokyo, with staff writer

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) yesterday said that Taiwan could face a “forceful backlash” after a visit to Taiwan by Japanese Senior Vice Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Jiro Akama.

Akama on Saturday attended a tourism fair in Taipei organized by the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association and cochaired its opening ceremony with Taiwanese officials, including Association of East Asian Relations president Chiou I-jen (邱義仁).

Akama is the highest-ranking serving Japanese official to visit the nation since Tokyo severed official diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1972.

“The Taiwan question lies within China’s core interests and no challenge to it will be tolerated,” Ma said, adding that Beijing considers the visit by an active official of Akama’s rank “a severe breach of the spirit of the Four Political Documents between China and Japan.”

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to “strenuously object to ... [Japan’s] incorrect actions in issues relating to Taiwan,” Ma said.

Ma said that the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has refused to acknowledge the so-called “1992 consensus” and attempted to challenge the “one China” principle, but “the more petty actions [Taiwan takes], the more forceful backlash it will encounter.”

The “1992 consensus” refers to a purported tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party that both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.

Former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in 2006 admitted to making up the term in 2000.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying (華春瑩) on Monday accused Japan of “breaking its agreement” to limit its exchanges with Taiwan to “civilian” and “regional” interactions with Akama’s visit.

In a routine news conference on Tuesday, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that Taiwan is “an important partner” to Japan, due to frequent economic and tourism exchanges, adding that Akama’s visit played an important role in improving the “mutual understanding” between the two parties.

Calling the Chinese response an overreaction, Suga said that the Japanese government is to continue its promotion of exchanges with Taiwan, while maintaining its position that ties with Taiwan are be kept both substantive and unofficial.

Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida said that Taipei and Tokyo have consistently maintained relations that are substantive and non-governmental.

“China’s criticisms are unfounded,” Kishida said.

Akama’s trip was made for the promotion of Japanese tourist attractions and the move did not signal changes in the Japanese position of keeping ties with Taiwan unofficial, Kishida said.

Japan-China relations remain important and the Japanese government is committed to its “mutually beneficial strategic relations” with China, he said.

The aim of Akama’s visit was to deepen exchanges and cooperation with Taiwan, Japanese Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Sanae Takaichi said on Tuesday.

Akama’s attendance at the event was meant to highlight the charms of the Japanese countryside and attract Taiwanese tourists, Takaichi said.

Additional reporting by CNA

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