Sunday’s Nikkei and Sankei published prominent articles on China’s renewed maritime push in the South and East China Seas, conjecturing that Beijing is anxious to establish maritime hegemony by capitalizing on the international community’s preoccupation with the COVID-19 pandemic and the diminished presence of the U.S. Navy caused by large-scale virus outbreaks on several aircraft carriers. The dailies speculated that the Xi leadership is taking a hard line to cement its grip on power ahead of the opening of the People’s National Congress next week. The papers expressed concern that China’s high-handed diplomatic and military posturing might fuel friction with the U.S.
In a related story, Monday’s Yomiuri wrote that Defense Minister Kono has held teleconferences with his counterparts of the U.S. and seven other nations in the region lately with the goal of cementing unity among democratic nations in view of China’s continuing provocations. He was quoted as saying yesterday: “We absolutely cannot accept China’s unilateral attempts to alter the status quo by force.”