US and Japan offend Beijing over Taiwan

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Sunday, February 20, 2005

Beijing (北京; pinyin: Běijīng) —The Chinese government is rebuffing a joint statement issued by the United States and Japan, which has broken new diplomatic ground by declaring that Taiwan is a shared strategic security concern for the two nations.

Beijing's opposing statement read, "Chinese Government and people resolutely opposes the United States and Japan in issuing any bilateral document concerning China's Taiwan, which meddles the internal affairs of China, and hurts China's sovereignty."

China's Foreign Ministry also, "urged the United States to see to their respective commitments toward Chinese people concerning Taiwan, and refrain from doing things that affect peace and stability in Asia and Pacific."

The US-Japan statement also asked China, "to improve the transparency of its military affairs".

The joint statement was issued after a US-Japan meeting, attended by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura, and Japan's defense chief Yoshinori Ono.

On the US-Japan relationship, Rumsfeld declared, "I can't think of a time when the relationship has been closer or more constructive".

Rumsfeld also noted that China, which is in Asia, is, "increasing its military capabilities in a fairly significant way".

"It (the Taiwan Strait) is seldom, if at all, referred to in a formal document," said a US official.

Diplomats pointed out that the joint US-Japan statement was a first in the 50-year alliance between the two countries.

Former Pentagon official Dan Blumenthal believes Taiwan will welcome this statement.

"China has been investing very heavily on ballistic missiles that they deploy across the Taiwan Strait as a tool of coercion and intimidation. They have some five- to six-hundred missiles pointed at Taiwan, but it concerns other regional actors as well, not just Taiwan," he said.

Bilateral discussions between US and Japanese officials at the cabinet and ministerial levels of their respective governments have not been held since December, 2002.