BEIJING, China, 16 April 2021
China said Friday it has expressed “serious concerns” to the United States and Japan over what it calls negative moves and collusion between the two countries against China.
The statement from Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian came just before President Joe Biden welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to the White House on Friday in his first face-to-face meeting with a foreign leader.
That meeting is seen as reflecting Biden’s emphasis on strengthening alliances to deal with a more assertive China and other global challenges.
Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing that Japan and the United States should “take China’s concerns and demands seriously, avoid words and actions that interfere in China’s internal affairs and harm China’s interests.”
“China has no objection to the development of normal bilateral relations between Japan and the United States, but such relations should help enhance mutual understanding and trust among regional countries and contribute to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, and should not target or harm the interests of third parties,” Zhao said.
China would “make necessary responses as appropriate,” he said.
Biden and Suga see their meeting as a chance to counter messaging from Chinese President Xi Jinping that America and democracies in general are on the decline, after the political turmoil and backing away from global leadership that marked Donald Trump’s presidency.
Japan remains China’s traditional rival dating from Tokyo’s brutal WWII occupation of much of the country. Relations between Washington and Beijing are tenser than ever over trade, technology, Hong Kong, Taiwan and human rights, particularly China’s policies toward Turkic Muslims in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.
US and Chinese naval movements in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea, which China claims virtually in its entirety, have added to tensions in recent days, following statements from US officials that Beijing may be accelerating its schedule to annex Taiwan by force.
The Biden administration says the primary challenge for the United States lies in managing US policies toward the Indo-Pacific, the main theater in which China is flexing its growing economic and military power. That helped guide Biden’s decision, announced this week, to pull US troops out of Afghanistan and free the administration to focus more on East Asia.