Monday, June 2, 2014

China Hits Back at Abe and Hagel

From the New York Times:

China struck back harshly at the United States and Japan on Saturday, as a senior Chinese military official accused Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan of acting in concert to sow controversy and division in the Asia-Pacific region.

Speaking to reporters at a conference here of senior military officials from around the region, Lt. Gen. Wang Guanzhong, the deputy chief of staff of the People’s Liberation Army, characterized a speech on Saturday morning by Mr. Hagel, which followed one by Mr. Abe on Friday night, as “full of threats and intimidating language,” according to Chinese news media outlets.

General Wang seemed especially annoyed that Mr. Hagel, who accused China of coercive tactics in its many maritime disputes with its neighbors, had made his accusations at a conference about regional cooperation.

“Secretary Hagel, in this kind of public space with many people, openly criticized China without reason,” General Wang said. “Secretary Hagel’s speech is full of encouragement, incitement for the Asia region’s instability giving rise to a disturbance.”

General Wang also criticized Mr. Abe’s speech, which contained several veiled criticisms of China. He said that Mr. Hagel and Mr. Abe appeared to be “singing in duet.”

“Over all these years, China has never actively provoked an incident over matters of Chinese sovereignty, territory and maritime boundaries,” the general said. “It’s always been other parties concerned taking the initiative to provoke trouble, and then the Chinese government has had no choice but to respond.”

China’s official Xinhua news agency joined the fray, accusing the United States of “trying to practice its approach of ensuring the safety of its allies by maintaining its military dominance.”

The United States has been at odds with China over several air and maritime disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

General Wang and Mr. Hagel met briefly Saturday afternoon. A senior Defense Department official said they had discussed the friction between China and Vietnam over an oil rig that China has placed in disputed waters. The official characterized the meeting’s tone as cordial.

Helene Cooper, “China Accuses U.S. and Japan of Incitement,” New York Times, May 31, 2014. 

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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang also weighed in on the Shangri-La conference:

We have noted that recently the Japanese leader keeps making allusive remarks that are directed at other countries. In fact, the Japanese side should give clear explanations to the international community of its latest moves in the military and security fields and respect international law and the basic norms governing international relations when addressing disputes on territory and maritime rights and interests with its neighbors. We hope the Japanese side can face up to the history, respect the fact, and stop stirring things up to mislead the public. It should take more concrete actions to promote regional peace and stability.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, June 1, 2014

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