Taiwan’s and Japan’s ruling parties will hold security talks for the first time later this week, a Taiwanese lawmaker said Wednesday, as the two neighbours fret about China’s increasingly bellicose military threats.
The announcement of the talks was condemned by Beijing, which claims self-ruled, democratic Taiwan and opposes countries having official contacts with Taipei.
Two lawmakers each from Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will hold a virtual talk on Friday dubbed a “two-plus-two” security meeting.
“This is the first dialogue of its kind initiated by the Japanese side and we will be discussing diplomacy, defense and regional security issues,” participant and DPP lawmaker Lo Chih-cheng told AFP.
The talks will address regional security concerns including China, added Lo, who also heads up the DPP’s international affairs department.
Masahisa Sato, a parliamentarian in charge of foreign affairs for LDP, told the Financial Times that the dialogue was a substitute for ministerial talks as Japan officially recognizes Beijing over Taipei.
They were necessary as Taiwan’s future would have a “serious impact” on Japan, Sato was quoted as saying.
“That is how important we feel the situation in Taiwan is at the moment,” he told the paper, adding “higher-level talks with Taiwanese government officials” would be planned in the future.
China hit out at Friday’s summit, saying it opposed “any form of official interaction” with Taiwan.
“The Taiwan issue touches on the political foundation of China-Japan relations,” warned foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin. Japan “should be especially cautious in its words and deeds.”
Like the United States, Japan has become increasingly rattled by China’s sabre-rattling towards Taiwan.
In a recent defense white paper, Tokyo directly linked Japan’s security with Taiwan’s, breaking with years of precedent.
Beijing has ramped up diplomatic, military and economic pressure on self-ruled democratic Taiwan in recent years.
Chinese fighter jets and nuclear capable bombers now routinely fly into Taiwan’s air defense zone while state media churns out regular editorials vowing that Taiwan will be swiftly defeated in any invasion.
Recent editorials have seized on the Washington’s chaotic departure from Afghanistan as evidence the US cannot be relied upon to protect Taiwan.
Taipei and Washington have rejected that narrative and say relations are “rock solid.”
During a trip to Hanoi on Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris said the US would find new ways to “raise the pressure on Beijing,” accusing China of bullying in hotly disputed Asian waters.