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Editorial: Japan, U.S. must maintain pressure to deter China

  • 2015-11-24 15:00:00
  • , Sankei
  • Translation

(Sankei: November 23, 2015 – p. 2)

 

 Japan and the U.S. should continue putting pressure on China to discourage Beijing from taking further unilateral actions based on military power in the South China Sea.

 

 The leaders of 18 countries, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members, Japan, the U.S., and China, gathered at the East Asia Summit (EAS). Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed concern about China’s attempts to change the status quo, including the construction of artificial islands and military bases in the South China Sea.

 

 Chinese President Xi Jinping had said earlier that “China does not intend to militarize the facilities built in the South China Sea.” Abe, with Xi’s remarks in mind, said, “Words must be accompanied by concrete actions,” criticizing Xi’s remarks. China’s coercive maritime advancement poses a threat to the peace and security of the region. It is very meaningful that Abe admonished China at a meeting where Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang was present.

 

 President Obama repeatedly referred to Xi’s “promise” in the meeting. Many other leaders, including Australia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, reportedly followed suit.

 

 However, the ASEAN members were unable to form a united front in criticizing China. China’s persistent diplomatic offensive seems to have paid off. Starting with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit held in the Philippines immediately before the EAS, Beijing tried to persuade the host and other countries not to place the South China Sea issue on the agenda.

 

 Prime Minister Li said, “Outside countries should not take provocative actions to raise tensions in the region,” keeping Japan and the U.S. in check. No progress was made in the talks.

 

 Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin made the following disturbing comment on the sidelines of the summit meeting: “President Xi said he will not make the South China Sea a military base, but he did not say he will not construct military facilities on reefs.”

 

 This comment is extremely obstinate. There is a risk that China will expedite the ongoing construction in the South China Sea now that it has managed to make it through the serious of difficult meetings. China also poses a threat to the East China Sea, including the Senkaku Islands. Japan and the U.S. need to strengthen their cooperation to closely monitor China’s movements.

 

 The U.S. Pacific Command Commander, Admiral Harry Harris, stated in a speech in Canada that he will “again” deploy U.S. vessels within 12 nautical miles of the artificial islands that China claims as its “territorial waters.” Japan should support the U.S.’s “actions.” There will be a hearing soon at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague in the Netherlands regarding arbitration between the Philippines and China. The Philippines has complained that China’s territorial claims violate international laws.

 

 It is significant that Abe pointed out in the summit meeting that a ruling by the court of arbitration “would bind the concerned parties.” We must continue calling on China to abide by international rules.

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