Beijing/Pnom Penh/Tokyo: Reeling under the snub meted out to it by the United States House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Taiwan, the Dragon has apparently failed to reconcile with the emergent geopolitical scenario. Today Beijing claimed it did everything “diplomatically possible” but Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan “seriously” undermined China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
China lashed out at Japan over the last two days, taking the relations between the two neighbours to new lows. Today it mocked Japan’s protests over the landing of five ballistic missiles fired by the People’s Liberation Army, in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) – the first time that any such missile had landed in those waters.
Beijing pooh-poohed Tokyo’s claims and said there was no such thing as “Japan’s EEZ” because China and Japan have not carried out maritime delimitation in relevant waters. As far as the Chinese military’s drills in the waters off the Taiwan Island were concerned, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying claimed they were consistent with international law and practices and that the Chinese competent authorities had already issued safety alerts and navigation warnings in advance.
Japan for the time being appears bearing the brunt of the Chinese frustration. Yesterday Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi cancelled a scheduled meeting with his Japanese counterpart on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum in Pnom Penh on the pretext that Japan joined the other G7 countries and the European Union in issuing a statement, to express their concerns over China’s announced threatening actions, “particularly live-fire exercises and economic coercion, which risk unnecessary escalation”.
The Dragon claimed the G7 statement made groundless accusations against China. While it charged that members of the “US-led G7 personify aggression and coercion”, it singled out Japan for whipping, accusing Japan of “wrongdoing” on the Taiwan question.
“The G7 (of which Japan too is a part) only represents a tiny minority. Even if every person in G7 countries supports this statement, they only account for less than 10% of the world’s population. They do not represent the international community,” Chunying stated. She hinted that China may reconsider the meaning of having meetings and dialogue with the other G7 countries too, “unless they change their wrong practice on the Taiwan question”.
Japan claimed that China fired four missiles over Taipei during its drills, and China blamed it on Pelosi ‘s visit to Taiwan. “All China’s countermeasures are justified, necessary, and proportionate. We hope the Japanese side will have the correct understanding on this,” Chunying told reporters today.
The tension is palpable and is growing alarmingly as the Dragon now looks desperately to some facesaving mechanism after severe criticism of its “meek” stand over Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan on Chinese social media platforms. Little surprise, therefore, that today in Pnom Penh, the Chinese, the US and the Japanese foreign ministers had a war of words on the Taiwan question at the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. China claimed its minister made a”full and strong rebuttal to each of the pieces of “disinformation and false accusations uttered by certain countries and made clear what the facts are, defended China’s sovereignty and upheld justice”. Chunying conceded that some countries made “unwarranted accusations against China’s legitimate measures to uphold its rights”. She though claimed that “the majority of countries present did not agree with those accusations and showed understanding for China’s position” at the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting today.
What further queered the pitch was Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s walkout from a gala dinner at the foreign ministers’ meeting today in Pnom Penh. China though tried to soft-pedal the issue thereafter, and Chunying blamed it on Yi’s “very tight schedule” and China’s “COVID protocol”. She said still Yi went to the venue of the dinner and exchanged greetings with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn and spoke to other participants there.
The Dragon is now also trying to play the victim card. It said today that historically it had been a victim of foreign aggression. “Today, the US and several of its sidekicks still grossly interfere in our internal affairs and undermine our sovereignty and security from time to time. But China is not the China 120 years ago, and we refuse to be treated like Iraq, Syria, or Afghanistan. The Chinese people will never allow any foreign force to bully, oppress, or subjugate us. Anyone who would attempt to do so will find themselves on a collision course with a great wall of steel forged by over 1.4 billion Chinese people,” Chunying stated, in an attempt to build a case for the military. “As we speak, our nation’s armed forces are already heightening their readiness, and are closely following in real-time all military developments in surrounding areas. We are also in close contact with our allies, working together to halt the further escalation of the regional security situation,” she said.
– global bihari bureau