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U.S., Japan stress need for peace in Taiwan Strait

ROC Central News Agency

03/16/2021 10:28 PM

Tokyo, March 16 (CNA) Top diplomats and defense chiefs from the United States and Japan issued a joint statement on Tuesday following the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee meeting in which the need for maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait was among the topics addressed.

The talks, also known as the U.S.-Japan 2+2 meeting, were held in Tokyo between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin from the U.S. side and Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi on the Japanese side.

"The ministers underscored the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait," the joint statement said.

Although it did not elaborate, the statement clearly referred to coercion and military maneuvers against Taiwan in recent years by Beijing, which considers Taiwan to be part of its territory.

Beijing shut down official communication channels after Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took office in 2016.

Cross-strait tension further escalated after the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump increased arms sales and visits by high-level officials to Taiwan, while passing Taiwan-friendly bills in Congress.

Beijing responded by increasing its military maneuvers around Taiwan, including military drills and sorties. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, more than 100 incidents of harassment by Chinese warplanes and battleships were recorded around Taiwan in 2020.

The joint statement also expressed concern over China's behavior, which it described as "inconsistent with the existing international order" and poses political, economic, military and technological challenges to the international community.

"The ministers committed to opposing coercion and destabilizing behavior toward others in the region, which undermines the rules-based international system," the joint statement said.

"They reaffirmed their support for unimpeded lawful commerce and respect for international law, including freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the sea," it added.

The statement also expressed "serious concerns" about Beijing's new Coast Guard law, which took effect on Feb. 1 and allows China's Coast Guard vessels to use weapons against foreign vessels operating in waters claimed by China under certain conditions.

Furthermore, it said, both countries remain opposed to any unilateral action that undermines Japan's administration of the Senkaku Islands, which are also claimed by China and Taiwan, under the names of the Diaoyu Islands and the Diaoyutai Islands, respectively.

(By Yang Ming-chu and Emerson Lim)

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