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PLA General: Japan Was First to Disrupt East China Sea Status Quo - Not Beijing

© AFP 2023 / HANDOUTThis handout photo received on July 22, 2017 and taken by Taiwan's Defence Ministry on July 20, 2017 shows a Taiwanese jet fighter (bottom) intercepting an H-6 bomber (top) from China over the East China Sea near Taiwan.
This handout photo received on July 22, 2017 and taken by Taiwan's Defence Ministry on July 20, 2017 shows a Taiwanese jet fighter (bottom) intercepting an H-6 bomber (top) from China over the East China Sea near Taiwan. - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.06.2022
Earlier on Friday, Fumio Kishida, Japan's prime minister, pledged to strengthen his country's military posture and collaboration with allies, citing Asia's "increasingly severe" security climate in a speech in which he also made veiled criticisms of China's actions in the South China Sea, East China Sea, and Taiwan Strait.
The leader of China's delegation to the Shangri-La Dialogue on Friday refuted a remark made by the Japanese prime minister during his speech at the annual defence meeting in Singapore in which he claimed that Beijing had unilaterally changed the status quo in the East China Sea, the South China Morning Post reported.
The People's Liberation Army ground force's Lieutenant General He Lei reportedly stated that Japan, not China, was the first to disrupt the status quo in the waters in 2012 by unilaterally nationalizing a group of disputed, uninhabited islands that China names the Diaoyu and Japan refers to as the Senkaku isles.

“The purchase [of the Diaoyu islands] has changed the mutual understanding to put aside disputes reached by Chinese leaders,” He is quoted as saying, referring to a 1970s agreement. “China doesn’t accept the accusation that it’s using its capabilities and force to change the status quo in the area.”

He said Kishida's speech was "fairly complete and relatively mild" compared to remarks the Japanese leader has made for a domestic audience.
He claimed that taking ownership of the disputed islands away from private owners "violated Chinese territorial sovereignty" in the East China Sea.
Kishida's keynote speech, delivered at the high-profile three-day conference to which senior defense officials from dozens of countries were invited, was generally well-received by the Chinese delegation, according to the report.
In his remarks, Kishida also criticized "many" actions across the Taiwan Strait that "did not respect diversity, free will, and human rights." However, China was not mentioned by name by the prime minister, per the report.
"Unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force in violation of international law are continuing,” Kishida said. “Japan is taking a firm stand against such attempts. Peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, which is located between these two seas, is also of extreme importance."
Kishida went on to say that international law was being broken in the South China Sea, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague dismissed China's vast "nine-dash line" claim in the sea in 2016. Despite being bound by the judgement because it had signed the UN treaty on marine operations, Beijing refused to accept the outcome. To date, Chinese-built military installations, such as airports, radar, and missile systems, have been installed on artificial islands in the disputed waters. China's position, according to the lieutenant general, is that the arbitration is invalid.
The Chinese lieutenant general asserted that Japan will "suffer sooner or later" as a result of its "meddling" in Taiwanese affairs.
In this 22 January 2017 photo provided by the US Navy, the USS John S. McCain conducts a patrol in the South China Sea while supporting security efforts in the region. - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.07.2021
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The current annual conference comes amid strained military relations between China and Japan over a number of topics, including disputed territory and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, of which Japan is a member along with Australia, India, and the United States.
Despite the difficult challenges between the two countries, Kishida closed his address with a shift in tone, declaring that Japan wants "constructive and stable" ties with China.

Answering a query from He, Kishida remarked, "We need to promote dialogue and communication to build up trust between us, step by step," per the report.

In light of this, according to reports, Japanese defense minister Nobuo Kishi is expected to meet his Chinese counterpart, General Wei Fenghe, on the margins of the Shangri-La Dialogue on Sunday. The last time China's and Japan's defense ministers met in person was reportedly in 2019.
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