Ja­pan ‘must not flare up ten­sions’

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG YUNBI in Bei­jing zhangyunbi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Tokyo must not “flare up ten­sion in the South China Sea’’ or try to con­tain China by align­ing with other coun­tries in­volved in dis­putes there, the Chi­nese am­bas­sador to Ja­pan told China Daily.

Vet­eran diplo­mat and political ad­viser Cheng Yonghua, 61, made the re­marks when asked about Ja­pan’s re­cent high-pro­file stance on mar­itime is­sues and its sup­port for joint pa­trols in the South China Sea.

“Ja­pan is uni­lat­er­ally stand­ing against China on a ba­sis of par­tial­ity, and it ad­dresses any coun­try hav­ing dis­putes with China as its ‘pal’ or ‘brother’ in an at­tempt to en­cir­cle China. This is ut­terly wrong from the out­set,” Cheng said.

Some ob­servers have at­trib­uted Ja­pan’s stance to the US “pivot to Asia” strat­egy. Cheng re­sponded that “Ja­pan is not even a con­tract­ing party in the rel­e­vant dis­putes”.

“Free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion is also a false is­sue, and what the US is do­ing in the sea is lead­ing the sit­u­a­tion to one of fur­ther ten­sion. Both Tokyo and Wash­ing­ton should clearly bear in mind the sta­tus quo and not pro­duce ten­sion,” he said.

“Ja­pan has turned a blind eye” to a slew of key his­tor­i­cal facts, he said, in­clud­ing China re­tak­ing is­lands il­le­gally oc­cu­pied by Ja­pan dur­ing World War II, and coun­tries such as the Philip­pines il­le­gally oc­cu­py­ing some is­lands and boost­ing mil­i­tary buildup on them since the 1970s.

Cheng, who has been China’s top en­voy to Ja­pan since 2010, said Si­noJa­panese ties are im­prov­ing, “but the mo­men­tum is still frag­ile” due to Ja­pan’s neg­a­tiv­ity, in word and deed, to­ward China.

The rea­son be­hind this is how Ja­pan views China’s de­vel­op­ment, he said.

Dur­ing a news con­fer­ence on Tues­day, For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi sum­ma­rized Ja­pan’s of­fi­cial at­ti­tude to­ward China as “dou­ble-deal­ing”, and he urged Tokyo to think about “tak­ing China as a friend or foe”.

Cheng said Tokyo should re­flect on its po­si­tions, ba­sic ideas and pol­icy mea­sures on im­prov­ing ties with China.

“China val­ues ties with Ja­pan. It is hoped that both coun­tries will work on im­prov­ing ties on a con­sis­tent and sta­ble ba­sis. How­ever, mes­sages de­liv­ered by Tokyo are blurred and un­clear,” Cheng added.

The Ja­panese Lib­eral Demo­cratic Party re­ferred to China as a threat when it pushed to pass con­tro­ver­sial new se­cu­rity bills last year. The bills were passed and will take ef­fect on March 29.

Cheng said China is res­o­lutely op­posed to Tokyo de­ploy­ing such tac­tics, hyp­ing the so-called threat and us­ing China as an ex­cuse to gain pas­sage of the se­cu­rity bills.

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